Our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man has swung back to Marvel, keeping Tom Holland’s incarnation of the hero alive. A new deal between movie studios Sony and Disney agreed to keep Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and even confirming the release date of a third Spidey film on July 16, 2021.
The news follows a breakup between Sony and Disney in August, which saw all Spider-Man rights taken away from the MCU to much of the fans’ horror. Without an agreement, Marvel Studios, now a Disney unit, would not have been able to feature Spider-Man in any of their future projects.
Given how pivotal a role Holland’s Spidey had in the past MCU outings – not to mention the $1 billion-grossing Spider-Man: Far From Home – removing Spidey from its plans was a huge blow to the studio and fans alike.
Much like the Hulk bringing everyone home in Avengers: Endgame, everything seems to have reversed to how it once was. So, what was all the fuss about?
Of course, it’s about the money
Surprise, surprise. The villain at the centre of the whole fiasco was none other than money.
Disney wanted 50% of the cut, with Marvel Studios’ CEO Kevin Feige as a consulting producer. Sony on the other hand, was believed to have insisted on its current terms, in which Disney would receive 5% of its theatrical gross. As previously agreed, Sony would continue to have creative control over the Spider-Man films, including its ownership, distribution and funding.
Unable to meet in the middle, the two studios split up, and for a good month, Spider-Man in the MCU was dead.
But money spoke on Thursday, 26 Sept, when a new deal was signed between the two. The new deal offered Disney a 25% cut of theatrical profits, according to Variety, but also meant Disney would have to contribute a quarter of financing.
Disney also retains all merchandising rights, which is a big deal considering it earned $2 billion from consumer products during the span of 2012 to 2017, thanks to hits like Frozen.
The studios also agreed on one more Spidey-MCU appearance, due 2021.
Why didn’t Sony take on Spider-Man on its own?
Sony’s decision to return its Spider-Man rights to the House of Mouse was likely to be due to money and fans.
Its history with Spider-Man has been shaky, to say the least. Sony started off strong with the first two Tobey Maguire-led Spidey films, directed by Sam Raimi. Spider-Man 2 is often held up as one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.
But things never really hit such high notes again, with the disaster that was Spider-Man 3, and the mediocre response to its reboot, the Amazing Spider-Man, led by Andrew Garfield. Its sequel, which tried to kick off the Sinister Six, was so badly received Sony had to return to the drawing board.
Tensions within the set had also been frequently covered by the media. These included the studio’s interference with Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, insisting on more villains despite being incoherent with the plot. Their conflict with actor Andrew Garfield was also well-documented, leading to the British actor stepping down from the titular role.
Tom Holland’s Spidey would have existed in Sony’s ongoing Spider-Man universe, which includes characters like Venom and the various Spider-Men in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
But given its past mishandlings, and the ongoing feud with Disney, it would be a big PR-move to pull off. They would have to convince fans to come onboard yet another Spidey reboot, and ensure it all made sense in their separate universe. Fans could have had enough.
And when it comes to money, Marvel Studios’ Spidey films perform better in the box-office than Sony’s recent efforts. 2019’s Far From Home was the first Spider-Man film to break the $1 billion mark. In contrast, Into the Spider-Verse took in less than $400 million, despite its critical praise. For now, this deal seems to make sense both ways.
Future Spidey projects
It seems everything is back as it was, with Spider-Man back in the MCU. We will finally get to see what happens after the deeply unsettling cliff-hanger in Far From Home as well.
And much like an Easter-egg-filled MCU movie, Producer Kevin Feige’s response to the Sony-Disney patch up was packed with hints at what is to come too.
In a statement, he said: “Spider-Man also happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes, so as Sony continues to develop their own Spidey-verse you never know what surprises the future might hold.”
Will we actually see a cross-studio, Sony-MCU film? Will Venom make a surprise visit to the MCU? That should get your Spidey-senses (or as Aunt May calls it, your “Peter-tingle”) tingling.