The internet was aghast this August when word broke that negotiations between Disney and Sony Pictures over future Spider-Man movies had come to an abrupt halt, effectively pulling Peter Parker out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But when the two sides finally reached an agreement last week, a not-so-secret hero brought both sides back together: Tom Holland.
The initial partnership between Sony and Disney began with Spider-Man: Homecoming, which Sony paid for and distributed, but for which they allowed Marvel Studios to take creative lead in exchange for allowing the new Peter Parker to appear in a set number of Disney’s MCU movies. Marvel worked with Sony to cast Tom Holland as the new webslinger, and he endeared himself to fans instantly with his inaugural appearance in Captain America: Civil War all the way through his emotional return at the end Avengers: Endgame.
This summer’s Spider-Man: Far from Home marked the end of the deal between Disney and Sony, so the two sides were in the midst of renegotiating as the Homecoming sequel hit theaters. Disney offered to co-finance the next Spider-Man movie 50-50, in exchange for half of the box office, to which Sony balked. THR says in January a more modest 25-25 deal was put on the table, but Sony didn’t counter for nearly six months. In June, Disney Studios co-chair Alan Horn reportedly decided to walk away from the table entirely, so in the midst of press for Far from Home, behind the scenes the partnership between Marvel and Sony was at an end.
The news hit the press in August, with both sides blaming the other and Disney confirming that Holland’s Peter Parker would no longer appear in MCU movies. Fans rebelled and rallied around Holland, who made an appearance at D23 days later and offered an emotional, “I love you 3000” to the fans.
As it turns out, Holland took that fan support straight to the top. THR says the actor was instrumental in bringing both sides back to the negotiating table, using his starring role in Sony’s upcoming Uncharted movie as leverage to convince Sony chair Tom Rothman to re-engage with Disney. In a shocking move, Holland even reportedly reached out to Disney CEO Bob Iger—the biggest of bigwigs—and stressed how upset fans were over the split.
In late September, word broke that Disney and Sony had reached a deal for an additional Spider-Man movie that will be released in 2021, once again starring Holland. Details of the new deal have yet to come to light, but THR says Disney won “a considerable stake” in a new movie, which means they’ll be taking home more than their nominal 5% of the gross they received for Homecoming and Far from Home—although it should be noted that Disney also controls all merchandising profits, whereas Sony only makes Spider-Man money from the movies.
So yeah, not only is Tom Holland the perfect Peter Parker, it turns out he’s also a pretty expert negotiator. But seriously, this report just underlines how much this character means to the actor—it would have been easy enough to continue taking his paycheck from Sony regardless of quality, but he seems to genuinely care about the fan response. And of course the Peter/Tony relationship has been key to his arc thus far, so it’d be a shame to throw that out the window in favor of some lame Spider-Man/Venom crossover that ignores the MCU for contractual reasons.
When Homecoming first came out, director Jon Watts and Marvel’s Kevin Feige said their plan was to create a trilogy that would conclude with Peter Parker’s senior year in high school. That would presumably be this upcoming movie, so it’ll be interesting to see if Disney and Sony are keen on extending their partnership past this point, or if negotiations once again break down when it comes to planning out the future. Regardless, at least we get one more. And we have Tom Holland to thank.