It was a sad day for Spidey fans everywhere when it was announced on August 20th that the web-slinging wall-crawler would no longer be a part of the MCU. The news led to some immense backlash, #SaveSpiderManFromSony going viral on Twitter, and some fans even calling for the boycott of Sony. What with the recent hype for future MCU productions in the aftermath of the 21st Century Fox acquisition and the advent of the Disney+ streaming service, it was especially heartbreaking knowing that bigger and brighter things may have been in store for the character. Sony made over $1 billion on Far From Home alone, which is a testament to the power of the "Marvel touch," but they might be headed in the right direction. That is if the current situation stands.
While of course, as all things do in the land of Hollywood, the bout over Spider-Man was largely based on financial considerations, it goes a little deeper. Since 2015, Sony has retained the rights and distribution, while Marvel receives merchandising profits and a 5% stake on first-dollar gross. According to a variety of different reports, main among them being MCU insider Jeremy Conrad, Marvel asked for a larger sum of the overall film profits. Sony said no, responding with the original arrangement, then Marvel backed out of the deal completely. In a statement posted on Twitter, Sony Pictures wrote:
"Much of today's news about Spider-Man has mischaracterized recent discussions about Kevin Feige's involvement in the franchise. We are dissapointed, but respect Disney's discussion not to have him continue as a lead producer of our next live action Spider-Man film."
The MCU will never be the same without him, but maybe it won't have to be...
Disney wanted a co-finance arrangement of 30%.— Jeremy Conrad (@ManaByte) August 22, 2019
Sony believes they don't need Disney for #SpiderMan anymore.
Both sides are at fault. And only both sides coming back together for more talks can #SaveSpidey pic.twitter.com/Mp6eCgyX0f
Not only does Disney now own the IP of a gargantuan set-list of characters to choose from, so too does Sony. Everyone always seems to forget that Sony owns well over 900 Spidey villains and friends, of which they can now employ in interesting showdowns, due to the rather unlikely success of Venom and its upcoming sequel helmed by Andy Serkis. They also have a number of offshoot films in the making, such as Kraven the Hunter, Silk, Silver Sable, Nightwatch, and more.
The MCU, as well, has a whole new side of their massive tapestry to grow and nurture, from the X-Men and Fantastic Four, to the loudmouth Deadpool, and even Blade. Their Disney+ rundown is already looking fantastic, with Moon Knight, Hawkeye, and Loki all starring in their own shows, the live-action comic book world will be ablaze for some time. Spidey may be out of the picture (or pictures, I should say), but it's not like we won't see him again. With Into the Spiderverse 2 underway, and the fact that the video game franchise stays unaffected, there won't be any shortage of wall-crawling and web-slinging action.
The deal is also still very much on the table though, as Sony is probably most upset out of all of us. Not only was Far From Home among the five top-grossing films of 2019 (the only one not owned by Disney), but it was also Sony's biggest blockbuster yet, and it's clear this has a lot to do with its MCU connections. Even Into the Spiderverse wouldn't have occurred without the help of Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios, despite there being little credit attributed to them. With D23 ongoing over the weekend, Tom Holland spoke to People and EW on the nature of the breakup, saying:
"It's been five amazing years. I've had the time of my life. Who knows what the future holds? But all I know is that I'm going to continue playing Spider-Man and having the time of my life."
While sad as it is to see him go, at least Tom Holland will remain as Spider-Man. Say what you will about Sam Raimi's series being a classic, no one will ever top Holland's iteration of the web-slinger. With three movies still on the table and the possibility of working with the MCU think tank of pure imagination, Sony would be hardpressed to ignore the potential, but they do have an interesting future planned for us.
Rumors have been spreading like wildfire of late, like this one that states Disney will co-finance upcoming movies as well as own digital rights for Disney+ inclusion. It's unclear where this will all end up, but one thing is for certain: fans will be waiting breathlessly for the future of the wall-crawler, even though it's sure to remain in the dark for some time. As Sony continues to lobby against the fandom by fighting over director Jon Watts and not working out a stable relationship with Marvel, the more fans turn away from their future productions.
For now, we all just have to hope that Sony, like Spider-Man himself, can heed the age-old adage so beautifully elucidated by Uncle Ben:
"With great power comes great responsibility."