Sony’s recent announcement of a Spider-Man-based universe both excited and concerned many Marvel fans. The studio initially threatened another attempt at a Spider-Verse a couple months ago, with Venom and a Black Cat/Silver Sable (Silver & Black) spinoff leading the way. At the time, everyone assumed their character rights agreement with Disney was limited to Spider-Man’s presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige claimed both film worlds were separate, and they had “no plan for Venom” or any of the related Spider-characters.
However, recent comments made by Sony president Amy Pascal, while speaking at a Spider-Man: Homecoming junket, confused the issue, making it sound like the agreement between Sony and Disney wasn’t as simple as previously thought. Later, Feige downplayed any the speculation, stating that "right now, Spidey is in the MCU and it’s just Spidey." Pascal later corrected her statement as well, explaining that Sony will be a part of the Marvel comic book universe, not the MCU. Both, however, seemed to agree upon a "never say never approach," but confirmed that Spidey and Venom will remain separated for the time being.
Nevertheless, Sony's connection to Marvel Studios already runs deeper than fellow Marvel rights-holders 20th Century Fox. If Sony's own cinematic universe pans out, should their Spider-Verse connect with the MCU?
The character-sharing deal between Sony and Marvel seems to be the culmination of both studios’ desire to see Spider-Man’s story done correctly. Countless hours of negotiation finally cemented Peter Parker’s place in the MCU, allowing for his appearance in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and beyond. Per the agreement, Sony holds Peter's rights and foots the bill for his films (and keeps all the profit), while Marvel guides the web-slinger to success, ideally on par with their other entries. Any other peripheral characters, as well as Sony’s upcoming Spider-based universe, are strictly limited to Sony.
Disney/Marvel Studios filmmakers like Jon Watts and others also insisted that Venom and any upcoming Sony projects aren’t connected to Homecoming or the MCU in general. Of course, creatives don’t have the final say on character interconnectivity. Studio chiefs like Feige do, though. Amy Pascal – as Sony’s Spider-liaison and a Homecoming co-producer, as well as one of the Spider-Verse’s architects – is in a parallel position to the Marvel studio head. So when she told fans about an "adjunct" universe, fandom speculation erupted, much like it did when an earlier statement led many fans to believe that Sony would reclaim Spider-Man soon after his upcoming roles.
Despite refutations, Pascal's earlier statement could suggest a cogent business plan, one that both companies aren't willing to share yet. Their denials of collaboration beyond Spider-Man are understandable, but the topic of a conjoined Spider-Verse-MCU has undoubtedly come up, even in idle studio chatter. If Sony's Marvel efforts do succeed, a more extensive merger would actually serve both companies well.
The Spider-Man usage agreement and X-Men TV co-ventures were already major steps towards (a very slow) Marvel reintegration. Even a so-called parallel universe, one where Spider-Man occasionally swings back and forth between Disney and Sony, in theory, offers intriguing possibilities. Characters like the Vulture, Tinkerer, and Shocker likely took some wrangling to acquire. Even if minimal bleed exists between Sony and Marvel, characters who survive Homecoming could at least get a mention (if not a crossover) in the Spider-Verse. If there’s a permeable membrane to the universes, Venom, Black Cat, Carnage (recently announced as a lead foe in the Venom flick), or even Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin could theoretically appear in both shared realms. This would allow Venom to make an appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, as desired by fans and suggested by rumors.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) release date: Jul 07, 2017
- Venom (2018) release date: Oct 05, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018