When Tom Holland made his scene-stealing debut as Spider-Man in this summer’s Captain America: Civil War, fans witnessed something many thought impossible: their friendly neighborhood web-slinger appearing in a Marvel Studios film. After the problems that killed Sony's attempt to reboot their franchise with Andrew Garfield (for the second time), the competing media powerhouses forged a rare and unexpected partnership, giving both studios a stake in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
With the disappointment from Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man films still lingering in fan’s minds, many are still wondering what this partnership means for future Spider-Man films. In April, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige shed some light on their arrangement. Today, Tom Rothman, Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s motion pictures group offered even more confirmation sure to relieve the MCU faithful.
Speaking to THR, Rothman described Sony’s relationship with Marvel as "fantastic," while hinting at plans to bring an expanded Spider-Man universe to theaters - and confirming the role each studio will play:
"Sony has the ultimate [greenlight] authority. But we have deferred the creative lead to Marvel, because they know what they’re doing."
This statement aligns with Feige’s description of the partnership, and is a welcome confirmation for fans who remained suspicious over what, if any, creative control the studio that brought us Paul Giamatti's Rhino retained in their arrangement. Rothman also made a business case for the partnership:
"I don’t want to trim costs. I want to make money. And sometimes you make money by trimming costs and sometimes by investing in things that are profitable. A movie like Spider-Man by Marvel, that’s not inexpensive. But it’s a great investment. Knowing that Marvel has such a clear, creative vision, I sleep very well at night."
One of the most interesting dimensions to Rothman’s comments is his willingness to concede that Marvel has the superior creative vision. Saying that Marvel Studios "know what they’re doing" could imply that Sony couldn't claim the same, which is probably how many fans felt after watching Amazing Spider-Man 2.
And while Rothman’s brief discussion on the profitability of a Sony-sponsored MCU Spider-Man may come off to some as another example of commerce getting in the way of creativity, it’s refreshing to hear an executive of his stature attribute the confidence in his investment to the strong creative vision behind it. Clearly, when it comes to Spider-Man, the common Hollywood practice of packaging films by plugging a movie star into a piece of source material is insufficient if he wants to produce a landmark film.
Despite the recent news of some interesting casting choices, the start of production, and director John Watts offering a few comments about his storytelling approach, we still know very little about Spider-Man: Homecoming. With the excitement generated by Tom Holland's appearance in Civil War, fans are crossing their fingers and hoping that Sony and Marvel will finally deliver a worthy Spider-Man film.
Captain America: Civil War is in theaters now. Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.
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