There was a period in which the future of Marvel movies looked grim. Spider-Man, a staple in Marvel’s history, the iconic web-slinger that everyone loves, had been pulled from both sides by media giants Sony and Marvel, and Marvel announced that Spider-Man would no longer appear in Marvel movies.But then, it was pretty much all resolved with one important phone call.
Here’s the background. In 1996, Marvel had declared bankruptcy; they solved this issue in 1999 by selling the film rights of Spider-Man and related characters to Sony. This allowed Sony to make three Spider-Man movies with Tobey Maguire as well as two Venom movies..
Sony also permitted Marvel to use Spider-Man in their movies with Marvel getting 5% of all merchandise revenue and first-dollar gross. Peter Parker finally was included in Marvel’s 2016 film Captain America: Civil War–his introduction to a world that consists of many beloved Marvel owned characters, such as Iron Man, Hulk, and Captain America.
Fans expressed much enthusiasm and were looking forward to his appearances. After about two years later Spider-Man got his own Marvel movie. Audiences loved Tom Holland’s performance in: Spider-Man: Homecoming. It had received an 87% audience score and a 92% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. This was a huge improvement from the past films. Movie critics stated that the previous non-MCU Spider-Man actors with Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield (32 and 29 respectively when cast for Spider-Man) both lacked that “high school vibe”. Tom Holland was 19 when he first was casted to play Peter Parker, he could very well pass for a 16-year-old.
On August 21, 2019, Disney, which now owned Marvel, and Sony failed to negotiate their deal with Spider-Man, resulting in him leaving MCU. Rumors were spread about still trying to make a deal, but nothing was official. Who was to blame for this?
At D23 Expo 2019, a large Disney fan event, Kevin Feige, president of Marvel, struck a tone of gratitude and finality. “We got to make five films within the MCU with Spider-Man,” he stated. “It was a dream that I never thought would happen. It was never meant to last forever. We knew there was a finite amount of time that we’d be able to do this, and we told the story we wanted to tell, and I’ll always be thankful for that.” The subtext was “this is over, we are walking away,” subtly baiting the fans to criticize and blame Sony. Fans gave him the response he was looking for.
Tom Holland said, “It’s been an amazing five years [playing Spider-Man], I’ve had the time of my life. Who knows what the future holds? All I know is that I’m going to continue playing Spider-Man… it’s going to be so fun however we choose to do it. The future for Spider-Man will be different, but it will be equally as awesome and amazing, and we’ll find new ways to make it even cooler.” In other words he’ll still play Spider-Man, just not with the other MCU actors and producers such as Chris Pratt and Robert Downey Jr.
You would think that Holland was powerless. He was just a 23-year-old acting in one of the biggest movie franchises in history; caught in between two movie studio giants, who weren’t even on speaking terms anymore. Determined to make a difference, Holland eventually reached out to the Disney officials, and landed a direct phone call with Disney CEO Bob Iger. “He cried on the phone,” Iger joked. “No, not really… it was clear that he cared so much.”
On September 27th, Disney and Sony came to an agreement; Spider-Man’s contract was renewed. This gave the fans a huge relief. All over social media, they were rejoicing in the icon’s return, making memes out of the two companies.
Thanks to Bob Iger, Marvel had Kevin Feige, Sony executive Tom Rothman, Disney Executives Alan Horn and Alan Bergman to sit down and work out a new plan to extend the contract for the masked hero. It was confirmed by Kevin Feige that there will be at least two more films that Spider-Man will take part in: one more solo movie, a follow up to Spider-Man: Far From Home, and one more crossover, probably involving the Avengers. The solo movie will be releasing on July 16, 2021, Marvel getting 25% of the profits. The screenwriters of the next Spider-Man 3 had drafted the story and script summer of 2019, and they say that the negotiations hadn’t changed the narrative of the film very much.
Feige told Variety, “I am thrilled that Spidey’s journey in the MCU will continue, and I and all of us at Marvel Studios are very excited that we get to keep working on it… Spider-Man is a powerful icon and hero whose story crosses all ages and audiences around the globe… As Sony continues to develop its own Spidey-verse, you never know what surprises the future might hold.”
But what now? Back in April, Marvel announced big plans for the web-crawler. Three different trilogies, one of him in high school, college, and another in his adult life. This means that there would be a total of nine solo Spider-Man movies, excluding crossovers. In March of 2019, Marvel made a $71.3 billion dollar deal with 21st Century Fox, acquiring some major characters such as Deadpool and the X-Men.
Sony probably will still use Spider-Man in their movies not as Peter Parker, but with Miles Morales–a Spider-Man from a different dimension or reality. This could possibly lead to the introduction of the Spider-verse from the comics; a universe that consists of different dimensions with many different Spider-Man variations. This version of our web-slinger will then take part in Sony’s Spider-verse and will likely appear in other comic book movies owned by Sony such as a sequel to Venom releasing in 2020.
Now that Disney has acquired Fox, it opens up opportunities for more crossovers in the MCU. In the comics, you would often see Spider-Man team up with the Fantastic 4, so lots of people are suggesting that Kevin Feige has bigger plans for him, not just the Avengers. Honestly, the possibilities are endless, that is, if Sony allows more movies to be made.
There has been a lot of pressure put on Sony to negotiate with Marvel regarding the Spider-Man franchise. For now, the fans are happy, but by 2022, things might be different. Tom Holland might get bored of playing Spider-Man, and move on to other movies. There hasn’t been much enthusiasm for what Marvel has in store for 2020 The Eternals, Shang Chi: Legend of the 10 Rings, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are all considered new franchises in the MCU and aren’t generating anticipation like we saw a few years ago for the release of Captain America: Civil War. These upcoming movies and series don’t exactly have the same “vibe”. This is probably because the producers are trying to introduce new characters or expand on some side characters’ story lines.
If in two years they fail to renegotiate their contract and make more movies they might take a bigger fall. Most of Marvel’s icons are gone or have been removed from the MCU. The original six Avengers are not going to be featured in any of the next films. These characters have been the face of Marvel for over 10 years. A new age of Marvel movies has begun and fans aren’t quite sure what to think. Spider-Man is supposed to play a major role in the next crossovers. He might be the thing that will make or break their franchise.
This article was updated on Dec 6, 2019
Disney paid $71.3 billion for Fox.