Late last night Marvel Studios dropped a bomb: They’ve worked out a deal with Sony and will take over production of future Spider-Man movies. This is a huge deal, literally and figuratively, that will have repercussions for a lot of people, and especially Andrew Garfield, who is now out of a job. Garfield was two movies deep in his three-picture deal with Sony, and was expected to appear in The Amazing Spider-Man 3 in 2018, but with Marvel taking over, all of Sony’s previous Spider-Man plans are being sh*tcanned. It’s a shame, because Garfield was actually a really good Peter Parker. But Marvel wants a clean slate, and that means nothing that touched Amazing Spider-Man will come to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Rebooting Spider-Man under Marvel’s aegis is going to entail introducing him in an as-yet undetermined MCU movie—probably Captain America: Civil War—then re-launching him as a solo property on July 28, 2017. In order to accommodate this, Marvel shifted around four other movies: Thor: Ragnorak moves to November 2017, Black Panther goes to July 2018, which pushes Captain Marvel to November 2018, and Inhumans gets booted to July 2019.
While the nerd joy explosion over this news probably registered on the Richter Scale—fans have longed for Spider-Man to join the MCU for years—the bigger and, frankly, more relevant issue is the business deal making this possible. Thanks to the Sony Hack, we learned that Marvel and Sony had already tried to negotiate a co-op deal with Spider-Man and the talks fell through. But late last month Sony had a “Spider-Man Summit” to figure out how to deal with the marquee superhero franchise they were running into the ground. Apparently, the answer that arose from that was: Call Kevin Feige.
The deal, as outlined in a Marvel press release, states that the character rights will remain with Sony, and that Sony retains final creative control over the franchise. Amy Pascal, undoubtedly through her new production deal with the studio, will produce on behalf of Sony, with Kevin Feige co-producing for Marvel. There’s no way they’re doing this out of the kindness of their hearts, so what’s in it for Marvel? Presumably, a huge chunk of money. Also, Marvel doesn’t have to contribute to the kitty—Sony is responsible for financing and distributing the Spider-Man movies. So basically, Marvel gets to push reset on their most famous character, bring him into line with the MCU, and get all the credit for “saving” Spider-Man.
It will be interesting to see how it shakes out with Marvel and Sony co-producing. Marvel has certainly earned our trust, but Sony is retaining a lot of creative control, and they do not have the same luxury. Also, the single biggest reason the MCU has worked out so well to date is because Marvel HASN’T had their marquee characters like Spider-Man. They’ve had to work twice as hard to convince us with every movie that we should love these characters we’re barely familiar with, if we’ve heard of them at all. I know I’m alone in this, but I’ve always felt the MCU was better off for not having access to characters like Spider-Man. I hope this is a case of fitting Spider-Man into the MCU, and not fitting the MCU to Spider-Man.