Return to the Spider-Verse

Disney loses Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

A little over two weeks back, the news broke online that the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man— played by the ever-so-charismatic and fan-favorite Tom Holland— would be exiting the MCU. The news came as the result of a failed agreement brokered between Sony and Disney, the two companies who shared in the film, production and licensing rights to Spidey’s solo and team-up movie appearances. 

Originally, Sony had full control over the character from the early 2000s to 2015, producing the Sam Raimi trilogy of films, as well as the Andrew Garfield ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ duology. All of that changed when the general fan and critical reviews hit a downward spiral with ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2,’ forcing Sony to reconsider its stance on sharing film and production rights with other companies. In 2015, a deal was reached between Sony and Disney to share Spider-Man and allow him to enter the MCU in 2016’s ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ thus establishing him as a new character with his own rebooted film series as well as numerous cameo appearances. The rest was history— or is it?

 As the financial success of ‘Venom’ and critical success of ‘Into The Spider-Verse’ allowed for Sony to gain more confidence in their ability to produce Spider-Man universe films, fans began to question whether or not Sony would attempt to reclaim their full right to Spidey and pull him out of the MCU once and for all. 

However, Sony had no real motivation for pulling Spider-Man from his new MCU home, as the box office sales and licensing for their own films made the company incredibly profitable over the last four years. While neither company is fully to blame since both had an agenda for the future of Spider-Man, it was actually Disney that ended up becoming the catalyst for this broken deal. Disney requested changes to the original deal which made Sony wary of continuing their stint in the MCU any further. 

To summarize simply, as part of the original 2015 deal between Disney and Sony, Disney would retain a small 5 percent of the money generated from any solo Spider-Man movies created with Sony, 100 percent of all merchandising rights (toy sales, accessories, clothing, etc.) and the right to retain all profits from MCU movies Spider-Man co-starred in, including ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Endgame.’ 

However, this all would have changed under Disney’s new requests, asking instead for a 50/50 split in profits for any further solo Spider-Man films, as well as co-production rights and co-financing rights — effectively taking away Sony’s control of the character. With all that being said, it’s not a mystery as to why Disney might request such steep new demands from Sony. With the success of ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ as well as ‘Far From Home,’ it’s clear that Spider-Man’s presence in the MCU has become more and more important to Disney each year, let alone to the fans who fell in love with Holland’s portrayal of the character back in 2016. Sony was uncomfortable with these new demands and pulled out of the original deal during the renegotiation stage. 

Allowing Disney to gain co-production and co-financing rights would take away too much of their control of the character and what they wished to do with him in the future. In the end, the only thing Sony could do was to reclaim their full right to Spidey and remove him from the MCU, at least for the time being. 

However, with all luck and a little bit of hope that these two massive media conglomerates can work out a new deal, fans might still get to see Tom Holland’s Spider-Man back on screen with other MCU favorites in the years to come. At the very least, a Sony-produced Spider-Man/Venom crossover film might no longer be just a rumor…

~Ben Sties, Staff Writer~

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