Many a comic book movie fan briefly got butterflies in their stomach this week, when the news broke that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - which has begun its theatrical run outside the U.S. - features a button scene (read: mid-credits scene) that is actually a promo for X-Men: Days of Future Past, which arrives in the States just a few weeks after the Spidey sequel. However, before everyone could get too excited about Sony and 20th Century Fox taking the first baby step towards a crossover with the respective studios' Marvel properties, the truth came out: it's really part of an agreement worked out between Sony and Fox, so that Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb could return on the sequel (paving the way for him to direct Part 3 as well).
Nonetheless, the idea of a film crossover between all/some of the quadrants of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe - Marvel Studios' shared universe, Sony's Spider-Man universe, and Fox's X-Men and Fantastic Four universes - is something worth talking abut, especially as the aforementioned studios move forward with their plans to grow their superhero franchises horizontally (read: spinoffs), as well as vertically (read: sequels). Our Rob Keyes broke down the subject in depth earlier this week, but as always it's the executives and producers behind these comic book adaptations that will be the ones who can get this ball rolling properly down the ramp.
Spider-Man franchise producers Avi Arad and Matthew Tolmach previously said - in the days after The Avengers stormed the box office but before Amazing Spider-Man rebooted the webslinger's film series - that "Everything is possible," as far as crossovers featuring Peter Parker and other non-Sony owned Marvel superheroes are concerned. (Oscorp Tower nearly made a cameo in The Avengers' New York after all.) However, the game has changed over the couple years since then, which partly explains why Arad and Tolmach are now being a bit more firm with discouraging fans from getting excited about Spidey teaming with the likes of Captain America and/or Wolverine, among others (following the Amazing Spider-Man 2/Days of Future Past news this week) - similar to what Marvel Studios' head Kevin Feige did 5-6 months ago.
Here is the latest quote from Arad on the crossover subject, when asked during an interview with IGN:
“I think I’m probably a little bit of the militant here. I think it will take a moment in which we’ve run out of ideas. There's so much to tell about Spider-Man. There's so much to tell about the Sinister Six. The relationship between Spider-Man and Venom will bring a whole other world in... Peter Parker is unique; he's really different. He's not an Avenger. He's not an X-Man. He's unique and we revere that... We don't need [a crossover] yet.”
Sony has Amazing Spider-Man 3 slated to arrive in 2016, followed by spinoff films Sinister Six and Venom, which is what Arad is referring to here; most of the producer's recent interviews to promote Amazing Spider-Man 2 have, in fact, been as focused around the "whole other world" that the sequel lays the groundwork for. Similarly, as we discussed in a recent article concerning the potential Sinister Six lineup, Venom might be the recipient of a multi-film character arc; one that begins with an introduction in Amazing Spider-Man 3, Venom joining and then rejecting the other Spider-Man villains in Sinister Six, before Alex Kurtzman's Venom solo feature depicts the title character as a proper anti-hero protagonist.
That is to say: it's possible the Spider-Man film series will jump right from Andrew Garfield's run as Peter Parker into the Venom saga, before continuing onward without an extended break into Amazing Spider-Man 4 (which could potentially feature someone other than Garfield as Spidey). So long as the ambitious plans for the future of the Spider-Man franchise - be they similar to the idea outlined here or not - don't fall apart (knock on wood), there won't really be a need and/or space for a crossover with other Marvel properties, as Arad points out.
Tolmach echoed Arad's thoughts on the subject of a Spider-Man/Avengers and/or Spider-Man/X-Men/F4 crossover, during that same interview:
“You know Avi always refers to that question as a stunt. If you were to do that, you know, Spider-Man in the Avengers is a stunt. And I get why everybody – you know, fans and audience members and movie goers – I understand it... When you think about the Sinister Six and you think about Venom and you think about Carnage and you think Spider-Man in whatever way you want in association with those movies, they feel like they're built for Spider-Man. Like that's where his story needs to go and wants to go and it has to be about more than a stunt.
“Stunts can be cool but it's also a business, and so the other side of the answer is they're owned by different companies. And there's a ton left in Sony's world; there's a lot of business left because there's a lot of story left. So for them to want to take this character and put it with Marvel and Disney is a huge undertaking and probably, as Avi's saying, isn't necessary until you feel like, 'Wow, we're sort of out of ideas. What should we do?' And we're far from out of ideas.”
Certainly Avengers had the potential to be the sort of "stunt" that Tolmach is referring to here, as does the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past; a crossover of sorts, which brings together the cast members of the X-Men present-day trilogy and the X-Men: First Class series cast in the same movie. Avengers writer/director Joss Whedon found a way to bring together Earth's Mightiest Heroes in a narrative that was satisfying on its own terms, while the hope is director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg's film adaptation will do justice by the acclaimed Days of Future Past comic storyline from Chris Claremont.
If Spider-Man joining forces with the other Avengers, X-Men, and/or Fantastic Four is handled in an equally capable fashion from a creative perspective, then a crossover would be welcome indeed, no matter whether or not the Spider-Man producers have "run out of ideas" by that point. It may be unlikely right now, but who knows; maybe Arad and Tolmach will change their song again, by this time two years from now...
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens in U.S. theaters on May 2nd, 2014.