With the potential exit of Tom Holland's Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, an announcement about Marvel Studios' X-Men could be the only way to distract everyone from the loss. Its been a rough week for Disney and Marvel Studios - and even for Tom Holland. Reports recently surfaced that Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige would no longer be involved in Sony's Spider-Man franchise after negotiations between the studios broke down.
The story is continually evolving, with original reports stating that Disney wanted an equal split of financing and profits on future Spider-Man films in exchange for Feige's work. Sony rejected this proposal and is currently planning to move forward with the Spider-Man franchise without the help of Marvel Studios. But, that means no references to anything associated with the MCU, which could leave plenty of unresolved story threads for Spider-Man and the larger shared universe if a compromise is not found.
As of right now, it is unclear whether Disney and Sony will come to their collective senses, as Spider-Man leaving would be disastrous for the MCU. All of the different reports that have come to light so far make it clear that the studios are negotiating through the press, which has opened up the parameters of the deal to fans. Since Spider-Man has been positioned as one of the key characters to the MCU moving forward, whether or not he will continue to be part of the MCU is currently the biggest question looming over a record-setting year. This isn't good for anyone involved and will remain a major topic of discussion until a resolution is found one way or another. That is unless Marvel Studios made the bold move to dwarf the sadness of potentially losing Spidey with the announcement that the X-Men are officially coming to the MCU.
Marvel Studios has already announced its MCU Phase 4 slate, and neither Spider-Man or the X-Men were apart of it. While it's been theorized that this could change for Spidey since his franchise is a Sony property, the introduction of the X-Men was previously expected to take some time still. Dark Phoenix just bombed at the box office, and Disney is unimpressed in The New Mutants, so it made sense to take a slow approach with these characters to distance the MCU's take from what came before.
After all, the MCU still has major known heroes like Thor, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy to worry about. Up until a few days ago, Spider-Man was believed to be among that group too. The introduction of the X-Men isn't necessary because the aforementioned lineup - which also includes new properties like Eternals and Shang-Chi - can't carry the load, but rather because it gives the MCU a jolt of excitement at a time when they've possibly never needed it more. If Marvel were to announce that the first X-Men MCU movie is officially happening or that one of their many prominent characters were going to debut in another film in Phase 4 first, this would instantly overshadow the Spidey news.
The X-Men are a comic entity with multiple teams and a rich mythology that could inject the MCU with brand new life in the wake of Spider-Man's departure too. If Kevin Feige was thinking of having Norman Osborn be the new big bad, shifting to an X-Men villain like Mr. Sinister or Magneto (or even Fantastic Four's Doctor Doom) could do the trick. Meanwhile, Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters would immediately create a new youth movement for the MCU that Spider-Man was leading. The X-Men could effortlessly fill the voids left by Spider-Man's sudden exit from the shared universe, while also acting as a momentary distraction.
This could even help Spider-Man in the long run. Without so much attention on the deal, Disney and Sony may then have the opportunity to renegotiate the terms of a Spider-Man deal. Whether or not Marvel Studios ultimately does this remains to be seen, but if they are looking to find a way to steer the attention of fans away from a negative and towards a positive, the addition of the X-Men is one of the easiest ways to do just that.
- 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