Anticipation is sky high for this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, but the film is almost as interesting behind the scenes as it is in front of the camera. It’s the result of painstaking talks and negotiations between Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige and producer/former Sony head Amy Pascal, and it encapsulates three separate studios coming together to make one movie. Sony Pictures finances and distributes, while Marvel Studios (owned by Disney) takes the creative lead and gets to use Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in specific Marvel Cinematic Universe movies like Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
This agreement was not easy to come by—Pascal previously said she and Feige discussed this for years before they could convince their higher-ups to say “yes”—and while Sony has already set a July 2019 release date for a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel, the looming question becomes: What happens after that? Well, according to Pascal herself, Spider-Man could exit the MCU just as quickly as he entered it.
In speaking with CosmicBookNews at CinemaCon, Pascal seemed to imply that the current agreement between Sony, Marvel, and Disney runs out after Spider-Man: Homecoming 2, and at that point Sony could choose to keep Spidey to itself.
“One of the things that I think is so amazing about this experience is that you don’t have studios deciding to work together to make a film very often. In fact it may never happen again, after we do the sequel. Because Sony, and Disney, and Marvel all decided that the right thing to do was to allow Peter Parker and Spider-Man to be in the MCU and to work with the Marvel guys and have them produce this film. And I think that was a very rare thing for three companies to do, and a very brilliant thing for them to decide to do because there are only so many stories that you can tell again and again and again about Spidey, and this is something that we would have never been able to do in any other way. So it was a very selfless thing that very smart on the part of all the companies.”
This deal between Sony and Marvel/Disney was something of Pascal’s legacy, as she finalized it just before she exited Sony as studio head following the infamous email hack. She remains a producer on most of the studio’s Spider-Man projects, but what she’s basically saying here is that once this contract runs out, it’s not up to her whether it continues or not.
Right now, this partnership is beneficial to all involved. Sony doesn’t have to reboot Spider-Man once again to eyerolls from audiences, as his MCU involvement offers a fresh take on the character. And Marvel Studios finally gets to play with a character it’s wanted back in its fold for a very, very long time.
But Hollywood dealmaking isn’t about being “nice” to one another, and I do wonder what happens when/if Homecoming and its sequel are huge hits. Does Sony decide it can take it from here and produce its own Spider-Man movies with Holland going forward? Or do they re-up with Marvel? Either way, those negotiations are going to be difficult—Sony may want more control and less of Spidey in other MCU movies, Marvel/Disney may want more of the profits, etc.
As for what this current contract entails, we know that Marvel is involved in Homecoming and its sequel, and we know that Holland at least has a role in Avengers: Infinity War and probably its sequel. Beyond that, I wouldn’t expect to see a Spider-Man cameo in, say, Ant-Man and the Wasp because the dealmaking is too complicated for a few seconds of screentime. Marvel no doubt wants to use the character where it counts, and that’s as part of the Avengers.