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Will AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Introduce Silk to the MCU?

On Tuesday, reported that Tiffany Espensen, who played Peter’s classmate and fellow Academic Decathlete Cindy in Spider-Man: Homecoming, would be reprising her role in next year’s Avengers: Infinity War. The news has increased speculation that Espensen is not playing just any old Cindy, but Cindy Moon, a.k.a. Silk. If so, her appearance in Infinity War could have major repercussions for the MCU and for Sony’s line of Spider-Man spin-off movies.

Who is Silk?

Cindy Moon first appeared on the scene in 2014’s relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man, where it was revealed that she was bitten by the same radioactive spider as Peter.

Cindy Moon's arm is bitten by radioactive spider, as Peter Parker is in pain in background

Amazing Spider-Man volume 3 #4 (2014), cover by Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado.

Unlike Peter, who quickly turned to fighting crime after a certain incident with a burglar and his Uncle Ben, Cindy’s existence remained a secret for years, and Cindy herself was locked away in a secret vault, where she hid from a family of extra-dimensional energy vampires (the Inheritors) intent of eating every last spider-themed hero in the multiverse. Fortunately, Peter and Cindy—now going as Silk—were able to defeat the Inheritors, with a little help from basically every other spider-hero ever (and a few new ones).

But, what’s a newly-freed spider-hero supposed to do after saving the multiverse? Track down her missing family in her own spinoff book, of course!

Silk in spider web between buildings

Silk volume 1 #1 (2015), cover by Dave Johnson

In the pages of her own series, Cindy Moon blossomed into a hero all her own. Series writer Robbie Thompson, who wrote all 26 issues, focused on Cindy as someone who was trying to rebuild her life and who, in the process, had to confront her trauma, anxiety, and depression. After several issues of unsuccessfully trying to cope on her own, Cindy ended up in therapy, and her sessions quickly became a major focus.

While Silk initially tried to branch out on her own as a superhero, she quickly ended up working with Mockingbird as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. She also teamed up with fellow Spider-Women Jessica Drew and Gwen Stacy for some cross-dimensional shenanigans. And, after much drama, Cindy was finally reunited with her missing family.

But is Tiffany Espensen That Cindy?

When initial casting reports for Spider-Man: Homecoming announced that Tiffany Espensen was playing a character named Cindy, the internet lit up with speculation that it was in fact Cindy Moon. Her role in the final movie was fairly limited, however; while she has a few lines, her name is never actually spoken, though it is visible on a name tag at one point.

Tiffany Espensen in a yellow Academic Decathlon blazer

Still, there are plenty of reasons to believe she is a version of Cindy Moon. Nearly everyone in the movie, no matter how minor, was based on someone from the Spider-Man comics, so it would be odd for such a character to have no relation to Cindy Moon. On the other hand, she could have simply been an Easter egg, there for the enjoyment of eagle-eyed fans though without any intention of being set up for her own adventures as Silk. The Washington Monument scene, in which Cindy did nothing to save herself or her endangered classmates, for instance, would suggest she did not have any powers. Plus, there’s that whole “not locked away in a bunker while Peter gets to have all the fun” thing…

The most simple explanation, though, may just be that Marvel Studios and Sony wanted to seed Silk’s story, without actually committing to anything. Espensen is thus basically Schrödinger’s Spider; she is and is not Cindy Moon until the studios make up their minds.

What Could Silk’s Presence Mean for the MCU… and Beyond?

Espensen’s alleged appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, though, would dramatically change things. While it is possible she could appear in a quick background role when Peter Parker is recruited to join the Avengers against Thanos, there are other characters that would make much more sense for brief cameos, including Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May, Jacob Batalon’s Ned, or even Zendaya’s MJ, none of whom are currently credited. (The lack of Batalion and Zendaya also seems to argue against Espensen showing up with the other Academic Decathlon team members.) So why Espensen’s Cindy, and why in Infinity War?

The answer might lie not in Infinity War itself, but in what comes after. Marvel Studios has been particularly tight-lipped about the title of the Avengers 4, set for release in 2019, leading many to think the title itself is a spoiler. One popular theory is that it will turn out to be New Avengers, and will feature a whole new team of heroes. If the new team is introduced at the end of Infinity War—possibly in a post-credits scene—Espensen’s Cindy could be there as Silk.

Silk fights the Black Cat

Silk vol 2 #10 (2016), cover by Helen Chen.

Another possibility is that Espensen might show up not to tease a future Marvel Studios production, but an appearance in one of Sony’s Spider-Man spinoff films. The most likely candidate: Silver and Black, the Silver Sable/Black Cat team-up tentatively scheduled for release in 2019. Silk would be a strong candidate to make an appearance in the film—tying it back to Spider-Man: Homecoming—because of her own history with the Black Cat, with whom she tangled as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. If Espensen does appear in Silver and Black, or another Sony film, it could cement the connection between Sony’s spinoff films and the MCU, which has thus far been confusing at best.

Either way, I’m excited to see Cindy again in Infinity War.

Do you think Espensen’s casting means Silk will be web-slinging her way into the MCU in the near future? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Images: Marvel Comics, Marvel Studios/Sony

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