Last night, hell froze over. A previously unthinkable deal was reached between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios that will see the former lease out the Spider-Man character to the latter, who is quite simply the most formidable superhero studio around. Slowly but surely, and with the careful guidance of President Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios has built itself up into a shining beacon that all the other major studios are now scrambling to emulate. Its roster of characters is deep, its talent bench stacked, but there was one major character missing that Feige really wanted to bring into the fold, and that was Spider-Man.
Rumors of a potential deal between the studios leaked last year, but most thought it would prove too complicated to work out, even in light of the disappointment of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But instead of selling its only comic book property, Sony—lead in these negotiations by departing co-chairman Amy Pascal—came to an agreement with Marvel that sees them maintaining ownership and creative control of the character while gaining exposure to the Marvel Studios fanbase as well as input from Feige, one of the best minds in the business when it comes to comic book properties.
There are still a lot of things we don’t know about this deal and how it works out, and while some further details have now been revealed, let’s first look at the key points that were confirmed in last night’s press release:
- A new Spider-Man movie will be released on July 28, 2017, co-produced by Feige and Pascal.
- Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own, and have creative control of the Spider-Man films.
- Before his new film, Spider-Man will first make an appearance in a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, likely Captain America: Civil War.
- Marvel and Sony are exploring opportunities to integrate other characers from the MCU into future Spider-Man movies.
We don’t yet know how long this “loan” of the character is contracted for and if there’s a limit to the amount of times Spider-Man can appear in MCU movies, but a new report from THR dropped some other pertinent info about the deal.
First, the report says Sony has final approval over casting (in keeping with the “creative control” clause), and that the studio is currently looking for an actor “much younger” than the 31-year-old Andrew Garfield, who unfortunately will not be returning. Secondly, the report confirms that director Marc Webb—who helmed the two Amazing reboots—is also not returning. Again unfortunate, since Webb and Garfield were both given terrible scripts from which to work.
On the bright side, THR notes that producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, the “gatekeepers” of the Spider-Man franchise for years, have been downgraded to executive producers and will have “no real say” in the creative direction of this new franchise. This is great news, as Arad had a creative stranglehold of the character and almost certainly would have butted heads with Feige on the direction of this new Spider-Man.
Also of note, no money exchanged hands between Marvel Studios and Sony with regards to this deal. Variety says Sony will get more than 60% of the ticket sales, and since Marvel still owns the merchandising rights to the character, they stand to make a lot of money from toy sales from this new MCU-friendly Spider-Man.
In terms of the long game, a source speculates to THR that this is the first step on Marvel’s behalf to eventually re-acquiring the rights to Spider-Man somewhere down the road, and another goes so far as to say that Disney could be positioning itself to buy Sony outright. I still think Sony will hold on to this character for as long as possible (they turned down billions from Marvel to buy Spidey back), and as someone who thinks that diversity is a good thing, I shudder to imagine I could live in a world where Disney owns pretty much every major entertainment studio/distributor/character under the sun.
Anyway, this is only the tip of the iceberg as I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more about Marvel and Sony’s plans for Spider-Man, but these details are certainly fascinating.
For more on the Sony/Marvel deal, peruse the links below:
- New SPIDER-MAN Movies Going Back to High School; First Spidey Contenders Emerge
- 3 Ways Spider-Man Could Enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Sony Still Moving Forward with SPIDER-MAN Spinoffs; Kevin Feige Not Likely to Be Involved
- SPIDER-MAN Swings Into the MCU; Will First Appear in a Marvel Movie Before New Solo Film
- New SPIDER-MAN Movie Scheduled for July 28, 2017; Marvel Shifts Release Slate for Future Films