Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures have finally reached a new deal to keep Spider-Man in the MCU, and it's considerably different than their last one. The past couple of weeks have been a trying time for Spider-Man fans, with the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home overshadowed by the apparent end of the Marvel/Sony agreement. For a short time, it seemed as though the wall-crawler was fated to leave the Marvel Cinematic Universe altogether.
Fortunately, and against all the odds, Marvel and Sony reached a new agreement that's keeping Tom Holland's Spider-Man in the MCU. But there's a key difference between the way Marvel and Sony have handled this new deal to their original one. The first agreement, which was signed up in 2015, was done pretty much out in the open. The official statements spelled out its implications in detail.
In contrast, this time round, the press release from Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures is a lot more secretive. It perhaps partly reflects the fact that the original Marvel/Sony deal was done in the wake of a major hack, meaning drafts of the contract were actually in the public domain back then. Meanwhile, Marvel Studios has become increasingly secretive; gone are the days when the studio would announce five years of films at a time. All this naturally means that this new Spider-Man agreement is a lot more mysterious.
Sony & Marvel's Original Spider-Man Deal
The original Spider-Man deal was initiated back in 2014, in the aftermath of the poor critical and box office reception of Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Marvel Studios approached Sony Pictures with an unprecedented offer to share Spider-Man. Sony would retain the rights in full, but Marvel would produce a new series of Spider-Man films on their behalf, with Kevin Feige serving as producer. The movies would be paid for and distributed by Sony - and, crucially, Sony would be the ones who profited from their success. Marvel would only receive 5 percent of the profits, but in return they would also be able to use this new version of the wall-crawler as a character in some of their own films. Sony initially rejected the offer, but a high-profile hack in late 2014 exposed behind-the-scenes confusion over just what to do with Spider-Man, and shareholders are believed to have forced the studio to return to the negotiating table in early 2015.
The original deal covered five films. Tom Holland's Spider-Man was introduced in Captain America: Civil War and then swung his way through a series of popular and well-received superhero blockbusters: Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Unfortunately, while Holland was personally signed up for another two movies, that seems to have been the end of the old deal between Marvel and Sony. A new agreement needed to be reached in order to keep Spider-Man in the MCU - and, for a while at least, that appeared to be a remote prospect.
The New Spider-Man Deal
The new deal between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures only covers two more films. There'll be Spider-Man: Homecoming 3, due in July 2021 and bringing an end to Tom Holland's Spider-Man trilogy, and another mystery Marvel movie. Both of these will be produced by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. The terms of the agreement have changed a little, though; there are reports that Disney will now receive 25 percent of the profits from Spider-Man: Homecoming 3, but will be expected to pay roughly a quarter of the production costs as well. Interestingly, it's believed that Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman - known to be a tough negotiator - had actually offered up to 25 percent and a co-financing agreement, but that Marvel and Disney had walked away. Given that's the case, it's hard not to get the impression that Sony came out on top in this renegotiation, with Marvel ultimately signing up to their proposal.
Meanwhile, there's some evidence that Sony retains a level of access to Tom Holland's Spider-Man themselves under the terms of this new deal. Sony has always wanted to find a way to incorporate Spider-Man in their developing villains universe, which kicked off with Venom and will continue with 2020's Morbius. The press release from Marvel and Sony contained a hint that they will finally get their wish. "[Spider-Man] also happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes," Feige observed in an official statement. "So as Sony continues to develop their own Spidey-verse you never know what surprises the future might hold." It looks as though Spider-Man will join Sony's villains universe as well, although at this stage no details have been made public.
What Comes When This Deal Runs Out?
There's a crucial difference between this latest Spider-Man deal and the one reached in 2015. That original agreement promised an entire range of Spider-Man blockbusters, whereas this one covers only two films. It's unclear what Marvel and Sony intend once those two movies have been made; will the studios return to the negotiating table, or are they finding a way to wind this partnership down?
There have been unsubstantiated reports that the latter may be the case, and that Marvel plans to write Spider-Man out of the MCU. That may well explain Feige's oblique comment, given that they could do this in some sort of Multiversal story, perhaps "Secret Wars" or "Spider-Verse", that sees the wall-crawler headed off to another dimension. Once part of that parallel Earth, he can crossover with Venom. At this stage, though, these reports are unconfirmed. All that can be said for certain is that the MCU will include Holland's Spider-Man for a few more years, and that a third Spider-Man movie will explore the post-credits cliffhanger of Spider-Man: Far From Home.
- 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
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021) release date: Jul 16, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022