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The Spider-Man Character Marvel & Sony Both Can Use

Spider-Man and Spider-Woman

Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman, is the one Spider-Man-related superhero both Marvel and Sony can use, but there are still some restrictions. In 2015, Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures announced an unprecedented deal that brought the latest iteration of the wall-crawler into the MCU. Unfortunately, that agreement has now broken down, and as a result Tom Holland's Spider-Man is no longer part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The end of the Spider-Man deal is a disaster for Marvel Studios, given Spider-Man: Far From Home had positioned the wall-crawler as central to the MCU's ongoing narrative. That means right now, Marvel is conducting their biggest course-correction behind the scenes to date. Meanwhile, Sony intend to add Spider-Man into their villain universe, and it's generally assumed they're building up to a story inspired by the classic "Maximum Carnage" arc. There's heated debate online over just how the rights pan out, but fortunately old copies of the Marvel/Sony contract leaked in 2014, and they give audiences some idea what the two studios can do.

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Related: Spider-Man: What Marvel & Sony Can Legally Do In Future Movies

The film rights for most Spider-Man characters sit exclusively with Sony, but there is one superhero who's an exception. Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman, is a shared property. According to the contract:

'Jessica Drew' and specifically listed related characters. [Sony Pictures] may depict Jessica Drew as Spider-Woman, and Marvel may only use her without any Spider-Man-related elements.

There's an amusing irony in the fact that Marvel and Sony seem to share the rights to Jessica Drew. The character was created back in 1977 due to concerns over character rights, when Marvel realized that they didn't own the Spider-Woman brand. "I suddenly realized that some other company may quickly put out a book like that and claim they have the right to use the name," Stan Lee reflected in an interview with The Comics Journal at the time. "I thought we'd better do it real fast to copyright the name." Marvel had good reason to be concerned; Lee himself highlighted the example of DC Comics' Power Girl, a brand that seemed to flip Marvel's own Power Man.

It's easy to understand why Spider-Woman is a shared character, though. She's clearly a gender-swapped Spider-Man, albeit with a drastically different powerset including venom blasts and gliding; for all that's the case, though, Jessica Drew hasn't traditionally crossed over with Peter Parker all that many times. She's more well-known as a solo superhero, a detective, or even a member of the Avengers. The brands have been a little more closely-identified since Dan Slott's "Spider-Verse" event in 2015, a Spider-Man plot that was used to relaunch Spider-Woman in a new costume; but it hasn't taken long for the character to drift out of Spider-Man's orbit once again.

This idea of "shared rights" will be familiar to anyone who's familiar with the X-Men film franchise. Both Marvel and Fox had the rights to create their own versions of Quicksilver, with certain traits divided between the studios. That's why Avengers: Age of Ultron introduced a Quicksilver who wasn't a mutant, and had no connection to Magneto, while X-Men: Days of Future Past introduced Fox's version. Hopefully a similar situation won't happen, and only one of the studios will choose to use Jessica Drew, in whatever form they can.

More: Marvel Just Announced The MCU's Perfect Spider-Man Replacement

Key Release Dates
  • 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
  • Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022
  • Morbius (2020) release date: Jul 31, 2020
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