A new report indicates Dark Phoenix becoming a box office flop may be to blame for Spider-Man leaving the MCU, with Disney wanting Marvel Studios to focus on X-Men movies. The original deal between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, and the latter's parent company Disney, allowed for Spider-Man to join the MCU in 2016's Captain America: Civil War. Played by Tom Holland, Peter Parker went on to star in two solo movies and appear in two Avengers movies, 2018's Infinity War and 2019's Endgame. However, news broke this week that the deal between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios may be coming to an end.
After the initial reports surfaced, Sony issued a statement on Spider-Man leaving Marvel that included a mention about the company understanding Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige will be busy with Disney's newly acquired assets - referencing the X-Men and Fantastic Four, which returned to Marvel after Disney's deal with Fox. As part of that deal, Disney released the last of Fox's main X-Men movies, Dark Phoenix, to lukewarm reviews and an even more dismal box office showing. (Disney is also expected to release the long-delayed X-Men spinoff, The New Mutants, next year.) In the latest update to the ongoing Spider-Man story, a new report lends more credence to the idea that Disney doesn't want Feige distracted by property they don't own - especially in the wake of Dark Phoenix.
Now, Variety reported on the Sony and Marvel situation, mentioning one insider who claims talks between studios broke down as a result of Disney wanting Marvel Studios, particularly Feige, to focus on their own IP. Specifically, Variety reports that after Dark Phoenix bombed at the box office, "one person familiar with Walt Disney Studios said co-chairman Alan Bergman insisted talks with Sony end." Variety cites a different insider that disputes these claims, but did confirm Bergman was taking point on the Spider-Man deal with Sony.
Considering reports that Dark Phoenix contributed to Disney's recent third quarter loss, it's no wonder the studio would want to refocus on efforts that will ensure they don't see another financial loss. Disney CEO Bob Iger said on an earnings call this month that they'll be focusing particularly on their recently acquired Fox properties. In terms of Marvel, that means the X-Men and Fantastic Four. It's still unclear what, if any, changes Disney will make to The New Mutants ahead of its April 2020 release date. But the majority of Marvel's resources will no doubt be dedicated to new X-Men and Fantastic Four movies so the characters can join the MCU. Based on Variety's report, that leaves little room for Feige to produce Spider-Man movies for Sony, and contributed to negotiations falling apart.
With that said, there's still a possibility Disney and Sony can resume talks and reach a new deal to share Spider-Man. After all, the fans have made it abundantly clear they want Spider-Man to remain in the MCU. Even Hawkeye actor Jeremy Renner pleaded for a deal that keeps Spider-Man in the MCU - though other MCU and Spider-Man stars have been noticeably silent, including Holland himself. It remains to be seen what becomes of Spider-Man in the MCU, but if anything, this latest update reveals Dark Phoenix being a box office flop had much more far-reaching consequences than fans could have predicted.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021