Spider-Man is out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Or could be. As news broke about Sony & Disney’s breakup and falling out, media outlets began circulating what many thought to be an impossible piece of news. After all, Spider-Man: Far From Home had done phenomenal business, surpassing $1 billion to become not only the highest grossing Spider-Man movie of all time, but also Sony’s highest grossing movie beating 2012’s James Bond starrer Skyfall. What could possibly go wrong in a partnership like this?
I’ve been sitting on this news for two days now, watching the drama unfold, being unable to write anything to justify the confusion, angst and disappointment I’m feeling over this breakup. By this point, I’m sure multiple media sources, Twitter feeds and Reddit threads have discussed, dissected, memed and covered the happenings from all conceivable angles. I’m going to try my best to piece it all together because at the end of the day, I just need to let it all out.
In case you’re still new to all this, or went offline when all this drama unfolded, here’s what’s happened. Coinciding with Sony’s announcement that Far From Home had become its highest grossing movie beating Skyfall, news broke out that negotiations between Disney and Sony have failed, resulting in Spider-Man no longer being a part of the MCU. This would imply that Sony would go ahead and produce Spider-Man movies by itself, a significant change since Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige produced the last two Spider-Man movies. Disney on its part, loses access to the character appearing in the MCU.
So what went wrong? This is where sources tend to differ. The most uniform account being circulated is that Disney pushed for a larger share of the Spidey movies’ box-office returns. As part of the deal they had struck, Disney was entitled to 5% of first-dollar gross while Sony got to keep everything else. This didn’t sit well with Disney who asked for a 50-50 split in the revenue, something that Sony felt was too much of an ask. With the two studios failing to reach a deal, they decided to split.
The internet is divided over who they side with. Some agree that because Marvel Studios was doing the lion’s share of the work creatively, they deserved more than the peanuts thrown at them. After all, Sony was struggling to keep Spider-Man afloat after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 fared not so well at the box office and his integration into the MCU boosted the movie’s revenues (the Endgame effect). Others opined that Disney as it is holds complete rights to Spider-Man merchandise and revenues and it was unfair of the mouse house to ask for a bigger share considering they’re already netting so much in revenue.
It goes without saying that a huge outcry followed over Spidey’s departure. Hashtags like #SaveSpiderMan and #BoycottSony began trending on Twitter. Petitions were launched to keep Spider-Man in the MCU. Even Marvel’s own Hawkeye Jeremy Renner put forth his thoughts in a rare acknowledgement of a business decision by an actor. Sony itself weighed in on the decision with regret and disappointment, releasing this statement.
Much of today’s news about Spider-Man has mischaracterized recent discussions about Kevin Feige’s involvement in the franchise. We are disappointed, but respect Disney’s decision not to have him continue as a lead producer of our next live action Spider-Man film.
We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him – including all their newly added Marvel properties – do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own. Kevin is terrific and we are grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue.
The “newly added Marvel properties” refers to Fantastic Four and the X-Men that Disney obtained after its acquisition of Fox and the myriad of movies announced in Marvel & Disney’s aggressive Phase 4 that will see a total of 5 movies and 5 Disney+ TV Shows release in a span of 2 years. Naturally, Feige is a busy man and with so many projects demanding his attention and releasing in short gaps, it’s going to be tough for the guy to be involved in all places at once.
Perhaps the biggest question this leaves open is what happens to Spider-Man 3? Is that movie doomed to fail amid unnatural controversy, much like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 or Spider-Man 4? How on earth will the filmmakers justify the sudden exclusion of all Avengers references from a Spider-Man film? Does Jon Favreau continue to appear as Happy Hogan? Would Spider-Man no longer be a part of a future Avengers team-up? It would truly suck for these possibilities to become a reality after the excellent twists pulled in the Far From Home mid-credits scene.
Some are even speculating that either of Sony or Disney had their PR leak this news to the press to gauge audience reaction, which could then spur negotiations. Much like the James Gunn situation, people are hopeful that better sense will prevail and Sony and Marvel will reconcile. After all, how could two of the biggest studios in the industry not see how big Spider-Man staying in the MCU is. It’s a win for Sony for the boost that Spider-Man movies are getting due to their MCU connection. And it’s a win for Disney because they get to have Kevin Feige’s favorite and unarguably Marvel’s most popular superhero in the MCU.
But even if a reconciliation is possible, don’t hold too much hope out for it soon. Both studios have plenty on their plate to keep them busy without the masked web-slinger. Sony has a slew of movies which it intends to use to build its own Spider-Verse. This includes crossing over Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Venom and Tom Holland’s iteration. Marvel on the other hand is occupied with a plethora of properties so vast they could go without touching Spider-Man for the next 5 years.
As a fan, I can only hope the online debate around the issue pushes the studios to resume talks and arrive at a consensus. The last thing us fans would want is for Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home be the final movies that feature Peter Parker in the MCU.