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Over 11 years and 23 movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken fans to the furthest reaches of space and back. But even with everything the Avengers and their fellow heroes have taken on, we’ve still barely scratched the surface of what the MCU is capable of.

As fans of the comics know, the Marvel universe is a complex one. Filled with alternate dimensions, timelines, and all manner of epic storytelling, the world of Marvel Comics contains infinite possibilities. Phase 4 of the MCU looks to begin tapping into some of them.

And the key to it all is J.K. Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson.

J. K. Simmons at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Screening Room
J. K. Simmons at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Screening Room | Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

J. Jonah Jameson is already poised to connect the Marvel and Sony worlds

Simmons — an Oscar winner for 2014’s Whiplash — turned in an unforgettable performance in Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy. The actor’s work as the irate editor of the Daily Bugle was so good, in fact, that the only man who could replace him was Simmons himself.

Twelve years after Spider-Man 3, Simmons reprised the role for a mid-credits scene in Spider-Man: Far from Home. More than just a fun nod to the actor’s previous work as the character, the casting caused a flood of speculation. For instance, what implications does Simmons’ return have for the MCU?

Recent reports indicate Jameson could be used as a bridge of sorts to connect the officially named Sony Universe of Marvel Characters to the MCU proper. After all, Sony is spinning off its Spider-Man movie rights to a Venom sequel and a Morbius movie. So Jameson makes sense as a TV personality helping fans feel like the SUMC and MCU share the same space.

‘Spider-Man’ director Sam Raimi joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe

But there’s an entirely other way in which Marvel could use Simmons’ casting. After all, the actor played the same character in a previous incarnation of the Spider-Man mythos. So this connection opens the door to the Marvel multiverse. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has confirmed the multiverse will factor into the company’s upcoming plans.

At the very latest, fans expect this story will kick off in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. As its title suggests, the movie could see Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) visiting alternate dimensions. Spider-Man: Far from Home toyed with introducing this concept. But it is finally on its way. And who’s directing the Doctor Strange sequel? Raimi himself.

The very same filmmaker who cast Simmons as Jameson in the first place is helming the film which will unequivocally integrate the Marvel multiverse. Could this be a coincidence? For the meticulously planned MCU, that doesn’t seem likely. Rather, Marvel, Simmons, and Raimi could leverage this opportunity to unite many previous incarnations of Marvel properties.

Marvel Studios could be ready to grandfather in previous adaptations

The CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” event united just about every movie or TV universe based on DC Comics. They all co-exist in separate dimensions, maintaining the integrity of each but acknowledging one another at last. The MCU could be heading down a similar path which would bring the rich history of Marvel Comics on the big screen into one interconnected web.

Not only could Simmons’ casting be the gateway to bringing Raimi’s Spider-Man films into the MCU. The Amazing Spider-Man movies and even Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse could take part. Hugh Jackman could make one last appearance as Wolverine. Chris Evans could reprise the Human Torch. And Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool could make even stowaway to the MCU.

Although such an approach could feel like a gimmick, it allows Marvel Studios to make its own rules going forward. Best of all, the MCU wouldn’t feel confined by its current cast or design. If the need ever came to recast Tony Stark or Steve Rogers, simply shift gears and set the story elsewhere in the multiverse.

So many new stories and characters could come from a Marvel multiverse. And if the MCU is ready to do so, Simmons’ Jameson could be its very first step.