It's common in discussions of the Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man or the X-Men movies for some comic book fans to insist that all of the Marvel characters' movie rights should be returned to Marvel Studios. Whether or not this would be a good idea is academic right now, since in the case of most major characters it's just not going to happen in the foreseeable future. Spider-Man, for example, remains Sony/Columbia's highest-grossing film franchise, and with at least two additional sequels planned after The Amazing Spider-Man 2,it's unlikely that the web-slinger will be moving into the Disney clubhouse any time soon.
If the Marvel characters can't all be united under one studio, however, there remains the possibility that Disney, Twentieth Century Fox or Sony might be open to forming a temporary alliance and creating a crossover movie. Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige was very cautious when asked about this possibility, saying that although he would "never say never," it wasn't something that would happen any time soon.
Feige might sound overly pessimistic, but the latest comments from Spider-Man producer Avi Arad, in an interview with the Toronto Sun, don't exactly inspire hope. Although Arad - who is something of a mediating influence between the studios, having produced Iron Man and the Fantastic Four movies as well as the Spider-Man franchise - was open to the idea of creating a crossover, his guidelines for such a film are likely to cause friction.
"I think there are some stories that will fit beautifully into a cross. Spider-Man would be incredible mixed up with those other universes. But if we want to do that, the crossovers, it has to be a story that is absolutely centered on Spider-Man. We cannot be second banana to anything out there. Because this is the king. This is the one that influenced young people from birth.
"I'm not preaching, but Spider-Man, Peter Parker, who is in all of us, is too important to go in and use it as a sidepiece for corporate purposes. The studio may disagree with me, some fans may disagree with me. I don’t care."
If there's anything that will facilitate the creation of a Marvel crossover between studios, it's an air of compromise and negotiation, neither of which are particularly apparent in Arad's attitude. It's difficult to imagine a studio executive like Feige, who is already hesitant about the idea of a crossover, being persuaded by a demand that the Marvel Studios characters play second fiddle in a Spider-Man movie.
Unfortunately, Sony may not disagree with Arad. When initially asked about the possibility of a crossover, the Sun reports that he responded sarcastically, "Oh yes, studios are incredibly friendly to each other, they have breakfasts with each other." It's disappointing, but understandable that Sony, Disney and Twentieth Century Fox would be distrustful or even hostile towards the studios producing the direct competition for their biggest franchises - even if those franchises do all share the Marvel banner.
That's not to say that there have been no efforts made to reach out. In 2012, X-Men franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner said that she'd love to take all the screen versions of the characters and "mingle them in the way they were written." Hopes of a crossover were recently reignited by Sony's inclusion of a button scene from X-Men: Days of Future Past after the credits for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and towards the end of production on The Avengers the idea of having an Oscorp building share the same New York City skyline as Stark Tower was (very briefly) raised.
There's a major difference, however, between small teases and Easter eggs within the separate movie universes, and a full-on crossover where each studio would likely be pushing for its own characters to take center stage. If those higher up on the corporate ladder within the studios' power structures share Arad's uncooperative attitude, then discussions of what a crossover movie should be about are probably academic as well. For the moment, at least.
Do you think that Disney, Sony and Fox are ever going to share their toys? Would a potential crossover even need a "king" superhero, or would it be better as an ensemble movie? Tell us what you think about Arad's Spider-Man-centric crossover idea in the comments.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is out in US theaters on May 2, 2014, followed by X-Men: Days of Future Past on May 23.