Yesterday, we reported that Sony and Marvel Studios were breaking up over Spider-Man. The previous deal held that Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige would take creative lead on the property in exchange for using Spider-Man in their other MCU movies while Sony Picture would reap the profits from a revitalized character. Disney, which owns Marvel Studios, wanted to change the terms of the agreement to a 50-50 financing split, which didn’t sit right with Sony to lose 50% of the profits on their most profitable franchise to the richest studio in the world. So while it may be easy to get up in arms about all this, remember that this is a battle between multi-billion corporations arguing over who gets more money than most people will ever see in a lifetime.
Sony has now made a public statement on the break-up, tweeting out the following:
While it seems kind of disingenuous to be like, “Oh, I guess Kevin Feige is too busy for Spider-Man, one of the most popular and beloved characters in the world,” the real issue seems to be that putting Spider-Man in the MCU cripples other Spider-Man-related Sony properties. The character can’t appear in something like Venom because Kevin Feige doesn’t oversee Venom.
But it’s still a bonehead move from Sony because a Spider-Man outside the MCU won’t be as popular as the one who’s inside it. The reason that Spider-Man: Far From Home was the most successful Spider-Man movie at the box office wasn’t because the character became more beloved today than he was five years ago when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 came out. It’s because the film was the follow up to Avengers: Endgame and people want to see how that saga continues. If you take away that element and make Spider-Man team up with weak characters like Venom, you lose the appeal and the audience. Yes, a Spider-Man movie will still be relatively successful no matter what, but Sony seems to be calculating that the character is popular enough and Venom was enough of a success that they can take it from here. They can’t.
At this point, either the Spider-Man character will have to be rebooted or changed so drastically that he becomes unrecognizable from the person that fans fell in love with. Is he going to forget about Tony Stark or S.H.I.E.L.D. or Thanos or all the things that happened to him thus far? Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is intertwined with the MCU, so if Sony wants the character back, it’s going to be a rebooted version no matter what, and that’s just not all that appealing unless you find some brilliant angle on it like Into the Spider-Verse.
Maybe this is all just negotiating in the press, but if Sony could make good live-action Spider-Man movies on their own, they would make good live-action Spider-Man movies on their own. The character didn’t accidentally wind up in the MCU. He got there because the studio was boneheaded enough to trust Avi Arad as a creative lead and you got the abysmal Amazing Spider-Man movies despite casting a talented lead with Andrew Garfield. But hey, at least Sony owned 100% of that mess, which I guess in their estimation is better than 50% of something people actually like.