So this is where we’re at, huh? I mean, we had a good thing going this week with the new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer looking amazing and showing us a lot more of what we want to see; perhaps a bit too much of it in my opinion. Still, I can’t deny how excited I continue to be for this movie to come out. It still remains my most anticipated movie of the year, so much so that I’m begging for Guardians of the Galaxy and Wonder Woman to just come and go already so that we can be in July. And then comes the troubling news.
To briefly recap, Spider-Man is currently a part of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe following a 2015 deal between Disney (who owns Marvel Studios) and Sony (who owns the Spider-Man film license) which allows the character to be used in Marvel’s films while Sony gets to use characters in Marvel’s stable. Due to this deal, Spider-Man made an appearance in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, while Iron Man will make an appearance in this year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, which will have Marvel Studios as creative producers of the Sony-owned film. The same arrangement will also be in place for the planned 2019 sequel to Homecoming. Spidey will also be part of next year’s Avengers: Infinity War, and 2019’s Avengers 4-ish (probably Secret Wars). Following Homecoming 2’s completion, the contract will be up for renegotiation where Sony can opt to continue or end their relationship with Marvel as well as Spidey’s participation in the MCU.
Before a couple weeks ago, fans were almost certain that this deal will continue indefinitely, but Sony seems to be changing the script. In mid-March, Sony announced that after a decade of development hell, a solo Venom movie will be released on October 2018, followed by the announcement of a Black Cat/Silver Sable movie a few days later. These two films are intended to launch Sony’s very own cinematic universe involving Spider-Man’s villains. However, this universe will be separate from the MCU-canon, and won’t feature Spider-Man at all (due to his current involvement in the MCU). On top of that, Amy Pascal, former CEO and current film producer at Sony, recently commented on Spider-Man’s place in the MCU, where she mentioned that a deal like this “has never happened before, and may never happen again.” Uh-oh!
While the news of Sony’s off-brand Villain-verse was already troubling to fans who want to see Spider-Man in the MCU for much longer, Pascal’s comments seem to have driven that fear home. It can be assumed that Sony may be looking to pull Spider-Man away from the MCU, just as Marvel has helped rebuild the troubled film series again. What’s more worrisome is the reality that of Sony separated from Marvel, they will run Spider-Man into the ground yet again, ruining the perfectly good thing Marvel helped establish.
So will Spidey stay or will he go? While I agree that this all looks really bad right now, I’m fairly confident that Spider-Man won’t be leaving the MCU anytime soon. I’m not at 100% certainty quite yet, but I’m still pretty sure.
While Sony is acting very wishy-washy lately, their actions actually make perfect sense from a business perspective. Now, hear me out before you freak out. I believe that Sony’s Villain-Verse isn’t so much a threat to the MCU deal, but an experiment which doubles as a safety net. Notice how the Venom movie was announced as a rated-R anti-hero film. This tells me that this may not be an open threat to Marvel, but a response to Fox, who between Deadpool and Logan have paved the way for R-rated superhero in recent years. Whether it’s a good idea or not, Sony is probably dusting the dirt off this project simply because the time is right for a hard-R Venom movie. It’s also not part of the MCU, because the MCU is a mainly PG-13 franchise, and Sony probably wants full control of at least this experiment without fear of stepping on Marvel (ans especially Disney’s) toes.
I believe the Black Cat/Silver Sable movie was announced, again, as a response to another studio: this time Warner Bros. Yes, this one’s a stretch, but is it not coincidence that the DCEU has a planned Gotham City Sirens film in the works, which also involves a all-female villain team-up?…Probably. However, whether or not that particular DCEU movie fails, Sony may be trying to capitalize on either the popularity or failure of Gotham City Sirens, considering the film is scheduled close to Gotham City Sirens’ release.
You may then be wondering, “Then why would the movies be connected if they’re just ‘experiments’ and not preparation for Spidey’s exit from the MCU?” That’s a good point, though I believe the answer is right in that question. It is preparation, though mostly a safety net. Just because Sony ha a cinematic universe doesn’t entirely mean they’re trying to take Spidey back. Though, if they decide to do so, there’s now a perfectly good universe for Spidey to be placed in. If not, then Sony now has two major streams of comic book revenue, assuming that their Villain-Verse works. Granted, how does Sony expect to have a film series based on Marvel’s villains and not include Spider-Man eventually? This leads into the second major function of this universe: a bargaining chip.
Now, this is assuming that Sony’s universe isn’t so far removed from the MCU’s reality that it can’t be merged with the MCU down the road. Basically, Sony could still have Spider-Man in their Villain-Verse without him leaving the MCU and it goes back to Sony and Disney renegotiation in 2019 or so. Say the Villain-Verse is actually good, and say Marvel is interested in those interpretations of Venom, Black Cat and Silver Sable. Sony could then enter the renegotiation talks with something Marvel would want on top of Spider-Man. Imagine this: “We’ll extend our current contract for Spider-Man, and we’ll even merge our Villain-Verse with the MCU… in exchange for Spidey’s merchandising rights and/or the TV rights.” Remember, Disney bought back both of those things previously which caused Sony to lose out on billions during The Amazing Spider-Man’s run. This could be Sony’s way of getting those rights back.
Let’s also not forget that if this is the case, and Sony continues their Villain-Verse, they could still have a Spider-Man in that universe without disturbing the MCU. Instead of Peter Parker, just use Miles Morales. Problem solved.
As for Amy Pascal’s comments, I wouldn’t worry about it. When I read the entire quote, I take it more as a comment of how wonderful the deal is on all sides and how unique this collaboration is (which is true). That one remark everyone is harping on is troubling, but it could simply be a comment on its rarity than its actual status… or it could be a threat. That’s still likely. However, let’s remember that Amy Pascal is simply a producer of Spider-Man: Homecoming and far from the person who would make that fateful decision after Homecoming 2. That honor will most likely go to current Sony Pictures president, Tom Rothman… Uh-oh!
Again, there’s a lot of reason to believe that Sony is looking to take Spidey out of the MCU, and this is merely an optimistic theory I came up with. The point of this post is to assure people that there are a still a lot of factors about Sony’s behavior we still don’t know. Until then, these decisions could mean anything, especially when the renegotiation are years away. So, keep your head up, and let’s enjoy Spider-Man’s presence alongside Marvel’s finest while we can.
Let me know in the comments whether you think Spider-Man will leave the MCU or if he’ll be with the Avengers for years to come.
I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!