The last few hours have had the internet in a frenzy. It was announced earlier that at long last, Sony has brokered a deal with Marvel/Disney to allow Spider-Man and associated characters to appear as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
For those who aren’t aware of the legal ins-and-outs of the modern Superhero movie’s dominance of the blockbuster landscape (“isn’t Spider-Man a hero from Marvel comics? Why can’t he hang out with Thor and Iron Man?”) the issue comes when you’re discussing who owns what intellectual property, and how much money they’re allowed to make from it. A decade and a half ago, long before Marvel was one of the biggest and most profitable film studios on the planet (before 2007/8 they had very little to do with the production side of things) and their characters were sold to whoever would have them for a quick cash injection – Fox bought X-MEN and the FANTASTIC FOUR, Sony snapped up SPIDER-MAN. A professional rivalry and competition for lucrative superhero movie ticket sales has thus-far kept Peter Parker’s world separate from that of Tony Stark and company. That is, until now.
Sony, you may have heard, have had a rough year. Between leaks, hacks, controversies and their major films doing well, but not quite well enough, the studio looked in pretty dire straits. They needed a boost to keep their hottest non-James Bond property alive, and this timely deal with Marvel could give them just that. While they are still in ultimate creative control, they now have an opportunity to share in Marvel’s success and the audience loyal to the MCU series. While Marvel’s head Kevin Feige must be rubbing his hands at the story potential Spider-Man’s addition brings, Sony ultimately needs Marvel a lot more than Marvel needs Sony.
There has so far been no confirmation of when and how the web-slinger will join Marvel/Disney’s expansive continuity, or what it means for the current inhabitant of the red and blue suit Andrew Garfield (who isn’t popular with Sony execs after admitting the last Spidey film was a mess) and the already announced and in early production SINISTER SIX. It’s probably a fair bet that one or both will go away.
This is of course no guarantee we’ll be seeing great Spider-Man films again, but they surely can’t be as cynical, miscalculated and ugly as THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 with the support of the Marvel brain trust, can they? Only time will tell. SSP