With various news outlets reporting varied facts and figures about the recent exit of Spider-Man from the MCU, it’s unclear what exactly went down during the contract negotiations regarding the future of Spider-Man. However, the agreed narrative appears to suggest that a mixture of arrogance (Sony’s) and greed (Disney’s) stopped the two studios from coming to an agreement over Spider-Man’s future following Far From Home.
This is an especially hard blow for Spider-Man fans, who had grown used to seeing a new take on the wall-crawler and enjoyed seeing him interact with other heroes such as Iron Man. Furthermore, the critically maligned Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 have left audiences unsure about Sony’s ability to continuously deliver quality Spider-Man outings.
However, there are still multiple options over what the future may hold, and not all of them are as doom and gloom as the internet would suggest.
The option most seem to still be hoping for is that this whole blow-out is a negotiation tactic and that a deal will still come to fruition. Initial reports suggested that the split had occurred after Disney pushed for a 50/50 co-financing deal, which would give them fifty per cent of the profits made on any Spider-Man films. However, they would also pay for 50% of the production, which, up till now, Sony had been paying in full on solo Spider-Man outings. While on the face of it, this does seem fair, in the grand scheme of things, Sony would be paying less to get the movies made, but would also lose out on a huge chunk of profit, which makes this deal an understandably hard pull to swallow. After all, Far From Home had a budget of $160 million, and made $1.1 billion at the box office. Saving $80 million (plus half of the marketing costs) but then losing a potential $558 million in revenue is not a good deal. At all.
Still, further reports have suggested that the percentage wasn’t quite fifty-fifty, and if this back and forth continues, the two studios could come to a number they both like.
In this case, Spider-Man would return to the MCU after a brief hiccup, no doubt picking up where Far From Home left off and trying to find a way to restore his secret identity or operate in a world where everyone knows Peter Parker and Spider-Man are one and the same. No doubt there would also be cameos from other Marvel heroes in the same way Iron Man and Nick Fury showed up in Spider-Man’s previous two films. Although Kevin Feige has previously stated that the next film would most likely be more Peter Parker focused and less Avengers focused than the previous movies.
Another potential outcome of a successful deal would be that the MCU’s character roster would grow to include another web-slinger of a sort. With a 50/50 split over the Spider-Man universe, Marvel Studios could also collaborate on other projects, meaning Tom Hardy’s Venom and Jared Leto’s Morbius could end up rubbing shoulders with the Avengers in some way.
Of course, it’s also been suggested that Sony feels that they have learned all they need to learn from Kevin Feige and co. when it comes to producing successful Spider-Man movies, while Disney supposedly (and again, understandably) want their Marvel employees to be working solely on Marvel-owned properties, such as the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.
If that is the case, then it means Tom Holland’s Spider-Man could continue on without the Avengers hanging out on his periphery. After all, the place Peter Parker has been left in doesn’t necessitate the involvement of any Avengers. It would be weird that none of his fellow superheroes would show up to help him out in his time of crisis, but a movie without them is obviously doable. With Spider-Man’s identity now public, the film could focus solely on Spider-Man villains who are actually antagonistic towards Spider-Man and not Tony Stark.
The movie would still generally be the same flick we would have seen from the MCU, albeit without any colourful cameos and with a bizarre lack of mentions to the wider universe.
Any time a world-shattering event ushered the Avengers to assemble, things would happen and Spider-Man would be none the wiser. No mentions to Tony Stark, Aunt May’s burgeoning relationship with Happy Hogan, that time everyone was ‘blipped’ out of existence or the ‘incident’ in which aliens ravaged New York. It would be similar to how the Netflix shows tried to dance around referencing the MCU movies, but with fewer references.
Still, for every Spider-Man fan who loves to see Spider-Man leap into battle with the Avengers, there’s another who wishes he could just be Spider-Man, and not ‘Iron Man Jr.’ There is obviously the fear that Sony will go crazy and create another Spider-Man 3 or Amazing Spider-Man 2, but there’s also the chance that we still get a solid movie that continues the Spider-Man we know and love’s story, albeit with some of the fat shaved off. Looking back at the eight Sony-produced Spider-Man movies, only one of them (ASM2) has actually been dubbed ‘Rotten’ on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Even Spider-Man 3 managed to score 63% on the Tomatometer (despite the fact that a lot of the reviews on the site are far from favourable), while the first two Raimi films, the two MCU films and Into the Spider-Verse all score over 90%.
A no-deal would probably also push Sony to try harder to get their other spin-offs, such as Kraven the Hunter and the Black Cat/Silver Sable venture made, meaning we could finally see the birth of Sony’s Spider-Man cinematic universe, now with Spider-Man actually included, all leading to that inevitable Spider-Man vs Venom movie. Of course, your desire to see that may vary.
Continuing on as if everything’s still alright could cause problems, though. While keeping Tom Holland’s Spider-Man going in a separate universe is doable (and, from what Holland himself has said – the plan), it would be difficult, seeing how intrinsically linked this new Peter Parker is to Tony Stark and the wider Avengers universe.
So should Sony instead look to a different Spider-Man?
(No, they should just make a deal – but for the sake of the article let’s see where this goes:)
The first option is a relaunch, of sorts. After the events of Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales’ popularity is at an all-time high, so a live-action adaptation of his story would be possible as a continuation of the Spider-Man series we’ve got, with Tom Holland’s Peter Parker having gone into hiding following his identity reveal. That way, the films would still have the illusion of continuing on the story from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but cutting the majority of ties to the greater story, and allow Spider-Man to return to his street-level roots. This would understandably be a bit disappointing to those who want to see Tom Holland continue his adventures, but at least this way there would be a way to bring him back in a few movies down the line when people have become used to a Spider-Man-less MCU, and let him team up with his successor. Plus, it would be much more preferable than the other option.
Another reboot. Sure, you could start a whole new universe with Miles Morales, but it’s also possible that Sony could decide that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and the universe he inhabits has too much baggage attached to him, and return to the beginning with a new Spider-Man squarely placed in the growing Venom universe. Some might argue that this couldn’t happen, as Tom Holland is contracted for another Spider-Man movie, but so was Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man, Edward Norton’s Hulk and Terrence Howard’s War Machine. If the studio decides that this is the best course of action, then we could see the fourth iteration of live-action Spider-Men in twenty years.
It may seem unlikely, but if Sony doesn’t make a new Spider-Man film in the next five years, they’ll lose the Spider-Man rights to Marvel anyway, as per the original sale, and you can be certain that’s not something they want.
So regardless of what deals are made or rejected, Spider-Man will be returning to screens in the next few years. Although what form that’s in remains to be seen.