Sony, Disney And The Spider-Man Conundrum

Last night it was announced that Sony and Disney had reached a stalemate in negotiations regarding Spider-Man, leaving the web crawler’s future in the MCU in doubt. As the news broke, as always, Twitter went nuts. That coupled with the fact that Matrix 4 with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss was announced, film Twitter hasn’t had a day like this since the Cats trailer was unleashed, albeit a different reaction but huge nonetheless.

Whilst is was initially hinted and rumoured, it seems everyone was very quick to react and they may have been right to do so. It began as a story which takes Spider-Man away from Marvel and the MCU, and it continued to develop into another story which is that there is still hope and talks will resume and this morning Sony Pictures has released a statement which seems to be the final nail in the coffin. It read that it is Disney’s decision to not have Kevin Feige producing the films any more, that they hope this changes in the future and that they are grateful for his guidance on the path of the character which the want to continue. (Full statement here.)

This is a very confusing statement, essentially they want to carry on with the narrative of Peter Parker / Spider-Man as he is in the MCU but without Marvel he can’t be in the MCU. Surely this is the wrong move for both companies? Up until now, Sony has 100% financed Spider-Man whilst he’s been with Disney and it’s been rumoured that Disney is offering to split the cost 50/50 and it’s still a no from Sony. Why? Honestly, why? After Spider-Man: Far From Home became the studio’s highest grossing movie of all time, why would you let this happen? Well, it’s mainly to do with money. The overall profit sharing most of which currently goes to Sony with Disney taking a smaller share and retaining merchandising rights. Disney has apparently asked for a larger share which may also include adding the remaining roster of Spider-Man characters to the MCU. It seems like a pretty fair deal which will benefit both companies, seeing how the last two Marvel movies Spider-Man has featured in went on to gross huge sums of money. It seems as if both sides are at fault (most of Twitter is blaming Sony because apparently Marvel, Disney and Kevin Feige can do no wrong…), negotiations should still be continuing and yet they seem to have given up.

It’s been a while since the web crawler was solely a Sony property, and since moving on from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, the character has gone from strength to strength. Being introduced via another movie rather than getting his own solo film, Disney smartly placed him in Captain America: Civil War 6 months after Uncle Ben’s death and him gaining his powers. Plus the casting of Tom Holland was spot on, as he embodied the role of Peter Parker whilst being a naive and quippy Spider-Man. It was perfect and all going so well. In 1999, Sony acquired Spider-Man from Marvel for $10m during a time when superhero movies were nothing like they are today. Over a 12 year period, the company made 5 solo movies, both of which at some point suffered from cramming as many villains into one of its movies as possible. It was a huge sigh of relief when we heard that Marvel and Sony brokered a deal to move him back to Marvel and Disney where he belongs. Disney has shown what a delight he can be, making sure he looks the right age and doesn’t go down the absurd path of making him unattractive and unpopular. It was a smart take which fans have loved since Civil War and his solo films are the best we’ve ever seen him.

The future of Spider-Man could currently go in multiple directions. With Venom 2 currently in production, Andy Serkis directing and Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams both reprising their roles, he could show up in there. Or in the Jared Leto lead Morbeus which is currently filming with Daniel Espinosa directing. There is also Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse which also has a sequel on the way. And of course, they can always create more solo films with a multitude of villains. One thing that they do have is a wide ranging rogues gallery to churn out. So frankly whilst all may not be lost, it isn’t exactly looking great.

This has all comes after Marvel announced their most diverse line-up yet for Phase 4. Films and TV shows including Eternals, Hawkeye, Loki, Black Widow, Shang Chi and more were all confirmed about month ago at SDCC. There was some speculation about there being a third solo Spider-Man film announced, however as it is indeed a Sony property, it would be up to them to reveal anything. The character, Tom Holland, his presence in the MCU and the Disney/Sony partnership is now in doubt, with some fearing yet another recast (it would be the 4th one across 17 years of the live action movies) and yet another Uncle Ben death, also how young will Aunt May be now? In her 20s? Hopefully not, and the ideal situation would see Tom Holland as well as the excellent supporting cast (Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon) continue tenure at Disney and possibly appear in upcoming MCU movies. But with no guarantee of director Jon Watts for now, it’s looking like he may have spun his last web for Marvel.

Keep. It. Reel.

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