It’s been over a month since Spider-Man: No Way Home swung its way onto movie screens, providing a take on the Spider-Man mythos that fans never expected to see onscreen. Amid the heart-pounding action sequences and the highly-anticipated cameo appearances, the film progressed the individual narrative of Peter Parker / Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in some significant ways. By the film’s end, Peter was left in an entirely new status quo, having decided to save the multiverse by having Doctor Strange make everyone “forget” who he is. Peter’s decision — which made his secret identity a secret once again, erased his existing romantic and personal relationships, and set him on a path to get his GED and live on his own — essentially created a blank slate for whenever we see the character next. With Sony and Marvel already developing a currently-untitled Spider-Man 4, there’s already speculation about where the story could go next, and what new elements or characters could enter the fold. Out of all of the storytelling possibilities — with elements that are either new to the MCU’s Peter or new to onscreen Spider-Man lore altogether — one uniquely stands out.
That’s right. Spider-Man 4 needs to bring Felicia Hardy / Black Cat into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Created by Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard in 1979’s The Amazing Spider-Man #194, Felicia is the daughter of an infamous cat burglar who eventually follows in his footsteps, becoming a vigilante who is skilled in a number of fighting styles and can subconsciously create “bad luck” for her foes. While this initially puts her at odds with Peter, the two eventually develop a professional and romantic kinship, which culminates in an on-again, off-again relationship. Through it all, Felicia’s personal experience toeing the line between hero and villain has been chronicled in decades of comics canon, as well as her own solo series.
The possibility of seeing Black Cat in live-action has been toyed with for years, beginning when Felicity Jones played a civilian version of Felicia (who, as a painfully-generic employee for Oscorp, bore little resemblance to her comic counterpart) in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. There’s also the years-long development saga of Silver and Black, a hypothetical film that would have been separate from the MCU and would have provided a Thelma and Louise-esque adventure between Black Cat and Silver Sable. Eventually, the project was cancelled in favor of solo projects for both characters, but no updates have come out in the years since. In that time, however, a wider audience have become more aware of Black Cat and her deal — she had a scene-stealing appearance in Insomniac’s Spider-Man video game, her solo comic has been well-received by fans, and a silhouette of the character made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in the final act of No Way Home.
It’s safe to say that the pieces haven’t completely fallen into place for Black Cat’s proper live-action — but in a way, that might have been a blessing in disguise to get to the bedrock that Spider-Man 4 was eventually built on. We already know that the film will realistically include a mostly-new supporting cast, by virtue of Peter starting over on his own and his previous friends and family either being dead or living in blissful, Doctor Strange-induced ignorance elsewhere. Regardless of whatever Peter’s civilian identity evolves into in Spider-Man 4 — whether he goes to college, gets a job, or some combination of the two — he’s going to need new allies and adversaries in his world, and it’s incredibly easy to imagine Felicia being introduced in any of those contexts. Maybe her civilian identity could be as one of Peter’s college classmates or someone he crosses paths with in his job, or maybe the movie could just cut to the chase and have her be another costumed character he meets while being a Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Given the fact that none of the other superheroes in the MCU currently know who Spider-Man is, the idea of him potentially considering Felicia as someone he could have in his corner feels just as possible as it ever did in the comics.
There’s also the romance aspect of it all, as Felicia canonically has a wildly-different relationship with Peter in the comics than the profound, storied love he ever had with Gwen or Mary Jane. On paper, Felicia and Peter shouldn’t work as a couple (and often don’t, for stretches of time), but there’s a darkness and a sense of ambition that bonds them as superheroes and love interests. Following the events of No Way Home, Holland’s Peter is undeniably at the point where he embodies those qualities, and his emotional rapport with Felicia could easily break the Internet like his high school relationship with Zendaya’s MJ already did. That being said, comics eventually established that Felicia was much more in love with the idea of Spider-Man than the reality of who Peter Parker is, a dynamic that could be fun to play with given the fact that Peter’s secret identity is currently a mystery. To put it simply, a Spider-Man/Black Cat romance could embody so many tropes of dating as a college-age young adult, while also bringing to life a relationship fans have yet to see onscreen.
While the end result of Spider-Man 4 will surely continue to surprise and delight, the film has the opportunity to introduce some previously-uncovered elements of Spider-Man lore to an incredibly captive audience. No character could benefit from that, while also showcasing previously-unseen elements of Peter’s characterization, quite like Felicia Hardy, who seems like a pitch-perfect addition to the next chapter of his life. Her arrival into the MCU — either in Spider-Man 4 or otherwise — would not only bring a fan-favorite and entertaining female vigilante onto the big screen, but it would continue to subvert expectations the way that the franchise has already done time and time again.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is currently in theaters.