**THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE IT WAS INITIALLY PUBLISHED. SEE BELOW FOR UPDATES.**
Possibly unsettling news for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – which is pretty much everyone, right?
News is circulating that Spider-Man is leaving the MCU.
According to Deadline, the partnership between Sony and Disney has broken down and this means that Marvel Studios’ big cheese, Kevin Feige will no longer produce Spider-Man films. This puts Spider-Man’s future in Marvel’s shared universe in doubt.
Deadline reports that Disney want to renegotiate the deal regarding Spidey, so that they have a 50/50 control of the character. Sony aren’t interested in a change in the deal and are happy to fly solo.
This news comes on the same day that Spidey’s latest movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home has officially become Sony Pictures’ most successful movie ever. The film has a current box office take of $1,109,905,159 and is due to be ‘re-released’ in cinemas this weekend with an additional scene.
Is this real?
There’s been no official word from either Sony, Marvel Studios or Disney regarding Spidey’s fate in the MCU. But if the news does turn out to be true, then this might not be the end for this current version of Spider-Man.
When Sony and Marvel Studios originally announced a partnership to include Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was for multiple movies. To date, the character has appeared in five films – Captain America: Civil War (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019) and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) – but it is believed there were a couple more to come.
It’s entirely possible that if no further deal is to be reached between the two companies, then Sony and Marvel will both just cut their losses and leave things where they are. However, it’s also possible that more Spidey films could happen, with or without Feige’s involvement.
The likelihood is that Tom Holland will continue as Spider-Man, with Far From Home director, Jon Watts in the director’s chair, but Marvel Studios will have nothing to do with the project(s). This would mean Spider-Man would no longer make reference to the Avengers, Thanos, or anything that could tie him to the MCU.
Why does Sony have control over Spider-Man?
So why does Sony have final say over Spider-Man? Isn’t Spidey a Marvel character anyway?
Spider-Man is a Marvel Comics character and has been since his first appearance back in 1962. However, back during the ’90, Marvel sold the film rights for Spider-Man to Columbia/Sony Pictures so they could make feature films about the character.
With the studio having full film rights to Spider-Man, they are now allowed to produce as many Spider-Man films as they wish without Marvel having any involvement. The only stipulation is that Sony have to keep making movies in order to retain the license.
If Sony don’t make Spider-Man movies on a regular basis then the studio loses the rights to the character. This is why Andrew Garfield appeared in a Spider-Man reboot shortly after Tobey Maguire exited the role of Spider-Man – it was all so that Sony could keep hold of their acquisition.
And this has been the case ever since 2002’s Spider-Man hit movie screens. It is a situation that continued up until Tom Holland was cast in the role of Spidey for a Sony/Marvel collaboration.
The two studios brokered a deal that would see them work together for a limited number of movies, effectively letting them share Spider-Man. However, the deal was never intended to be long term and according to today’s story it’s over sooner than expected.
Is Sony crazy?
Now at this point you might be thinking that Sony has lost the plot. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is so popular that every studio under the sun would love to be involved, so what is Sony doing?!
Well, if today’s news is true, Sony won’t be too concerned (not yet, anyway), as the studio has a number of projects in the pipeline to continue their Spider-Man movie universe without Marvel. Yep, the studio has a Spider-Man movie universe in play, that doesn’t have any involvement with Marvel Studios and it’s building momentum.
This universe includes the well-received/critically acclaimed Into the Spider-Verse (2018); the financially successful (if not critically successful) Venom (2018); and forthcoming vampire movie, Morbius. None of these films have anything to do with the MCU, but all have could pave the way forward for Sony and Spider-Man.
However, there is a potentially big fly in the ointment – and that’s the wrath of die-hard fans! And this could cause a big problem for Sony Pictures.
You see, Spidey fans (there are lots of them) love having Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They were also happy for Sony to continue with the other Spider-Man projects, so long as Peter Parker could rub shoulders with the Avengers in the MCU.
If Parker is pulled from the MCU, then this is going to create the mother of all backlashes. Just check out the reactions on social media and you will see what I mean!
Spider-Man: Far From Home has become as successful as it is because a.) it’s a great film and b.) it is riding a positive wave post-Endgame. A wave that includes a huge amount of love from fans who wanted more from the Sony/Marvel Studios collaboration.
Fans will not be happy with this current turn of events. They weren’t happy with Sony’s handling of The Amazing Spider-Man films and that resulted in an abrupt ending to that series and this could pan out a similar way.
Does anyone really want to see another Spider-Man reboot?
As noted above, this story is still awaiting official confirmation. When something becomes official I will provide an update.
**UPDATE** **UPDATE** **UPDATE**
News coming in from io9. The site put in a call to Sony and this is what io9 are now reporting:
“When contacted by io9, a Sony representative said it’s their belief this dispute is simply over a producer credit and negotiations are ongoing. They further clarified that Feige has contributed to other Spider-centric movies that he did not receive a producer credit on.”
Hmm… looks like there’s more going on with this story. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.
**UPDATE** **UPDATE** **UPDATE**
Since news broke last night regarding the Sony/Disney situation, Sony has issued a statement (via The Hollywood Reporter). The statement confirms the news that Kevin Feige (and by extension, Marvel Studios) will no longer be co-producing the Spider-Man movies.
The statement also suggests that it may have been Disney’s decision to remove Feige from co-producing duties on Spider-Man movie projects.
In a statement, a representative for Sony, said:
“Much of today’s news about Spider-Man has mischaracterized recent discussions about Kevin Feige’s involvement in the franchise.
“We are disappointed, but respect Disney’s decision not to have him continue as a lead producer of our next live action Spider-Man film.”
The suggestion is that Feige’s workload is currently too heavy with all of the recent Fox acquisitions and this means there simply isn’t the capacity for him to continue with Sony.
The statement continues:
“We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him – including all their newly added Marvel properties – do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own.
“Kevin is terrific and we are grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue.”
Reading between the lines, this statement suggests the following: Disney-owned projects come first. Projects that Disney only has a small share in are are not a priority.
Presumably, if Sony and Disney could have come to an arrangement over percentages of the Spider-Man franchise then Feige would still be on board. However, the decision is out of his hands and instead in the hands of the movers and shakers who sign the cheques.
So, where does this leave Spider-Man?
It’s still not completely clear, and until we get news on the next live-action Spider-Man film I can only speculate at this time. However, there are a couple of key things in this statement which are at least positive.
Firstly, in regards to the Sony/Feige working relationship, the studio said: “We hope this might change in the future”. This suggests that Sony don’t plan to create any waves with Feige, it’s purely a standoff between studios.
Secondly, the line “we are grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue”, is also very positive. This suggests that Sony will continue to take the character in the direction that Feige/Marvel Studios put in place – so hopefully no huge changes are on their way.
Everything that was set up in previous Spider-Man films can play out. Spidey will just get on with his life, fighting new villains etc.
Until old otherwise it should be assumed that Tom Holland will continue in the role of Spider-Man until he completes his contract (1-2 films). The films will still go ahead, they will just be 100% Sony rather than have any Disney/Marvel Studios involvement.
Of course, Holland’s next Spidey movies won’t specifically make reference to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (so no Stark tech, no Happy Hogan, no Nick Fury, etc), but that doesn’t mean the films are suddenly going to contradict what has come before. They can still sit loosely within the same universe, just without making any reference to wider events.
This does mean that unless things change in the future – and maybe they will for a one-off ‘special event’ movie – Spider-Man will not be included in any big team up films. If there is ever an Avengers 5, unless Sony sign off on it then Spider-Man would not be in the picture.
Spider-Man would also not be able to show up in a Fantastic Four or X-Men movie. So those hoping to finally see the wall-crawler share screen time with the FF or Wolverine will have their dreams shattered.
The best case scenario? Disney and Sony eventually come to some agreement, but in the mean time they continue with their separate projects and let both Spider-Man and the Avengers do their own thing for a while without the need for each other.
Worst case scenario? The two studios develop projects that radically contradict each other and ruin what has been a fantastic collaboration.
Let’s hope for the best then.