Audiences going to see Spider-Man: Homecoming this summer are all aware of the fact that this isn’t just a one-off Spider-Man movie. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker has already popped up in Captain America: Civil War and has a role to play in Avengers: Infinity War and possibly Avengers 4, and there’s already a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel slated for release in 2019. Marvel Studios doesn’t just make standalones, they make franchises, so the news that a Spider-Man trilogy is being planned isn’t too shocking—although there are still a number of major issues up in the air.
“Yes, there is what we call the arc of the character. There is still a lot of room for Peter Parker and Spider-Man, especially, to grow in the next two movies. He’s definitely not the finished article by the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming and I really look forward to exploring the different ways he can grow up and… go through puberty I guess. It’s going to be an exciting couple of movies.”
When asked to clarify what he meant by “couple of movies”, Holland let the cat out of the bag:
“There will be a Spider-Man 2 and 3… Yeah, well now you know, sorry Marvel. Whoops!”
But that’s not exactly the end of the story. Spider-Man: Homecoming marks a unique partnership between Sony Pictures—the studio that owns the rights to the Spider-Man character—and Marvel Studios. Looking to reboot the character after The Amazing Spider-Man, Sony teamed up with Marvel to have Marvel Studios take the creative lead on a new Spider-Man movie and allow Spider-Man to pop up in MCU movies, while Sony still gets to distribute these standalone Spidey films.
However, that deal that was years in the making between Amy Pascal and Kevin Feige comes to an end with Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 and Holland’s appearance in the Avengers movies. If Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 does come to fruition, a new deal will have to be struck, and it’s unclear if the entanglements of the rights and character and compensation issues can be cleared once more, especially now that Sony is under new leadership.
Indeed, Pascal—who remains a producer on these films—suggested earlier this year that the partnership may come to a close after Spider-Man: Homecoming 2:
“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.”
It’s foolish to think Marvel Studios hasn’t discussed where Peter Parker could go in a potential Spider-Man 3 if they’re already planning Spider-Man 2, and an early idea was to take a Harry Potter approach and have each movie cover a new year in high school for the character. What likely led to Holland’s comments here were discussions with Marvel folks about where the character can and should go, but the fact remains that a deal has not yet been struck for a Spider-Man 3 between Sony, Disney, and Marvel, and it’s entirely possible that Sony goes, “Well take it from here.” Although it’s also possible that deal is already in the works, or maybe even closed, so who knows!