Now that their high-profile deal with Marvel has broken down, here's everything we know about Sony's plans for Spider-Man. In early 2015, Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures reached an unprecedented deal that brought a rebooted Spider-Man into the MCU. It's important to stress just how unusual this was; it's very rare for two rival studios to work together in this way. As a result, even Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has admitted the Spider-Man deal was never going to last forever. "We knew there was a finite amount of time that we’d be able to do this," he observed, "and we told the story we wanted to tell, and I’ll always be thankful for that."
It's always possible the parties will return to the table for future negotiations, but at this stage that seems unlikely. For one thing, Sony's recently begun to reveal their own plans for Spider-Man, and while they're certainly ambitious, they don't require him rejoining the MCU. There have been reports that Sony was unimpressed with Kevin Feige's feedback on Venom, feeling he didn't help much with what turned out to be a hugely successful blockbuster, and as a result they believe they've learned everything they need to from Marvel Studios.
But what exactly are Sony's plans, now their partnership with Marvel Studios has come to an end? Will Spider-Man be rebooted, and what characters will he cross over with next? Here's everything we know to date about Sony's Spider-Man plans.
Tom Holland Will Still Be Spider-Man
The Spider-Man deal may have broken down, but star Tom Holland is still signed up for two more films. What's more, Holland's public comments don't suggest that the actor's relationship with Sony has soured at all. "All I know is that I’m going to continue playing Spider-Man and having the time of my life," he insisted. "The future for Spider-Man will be different, but it will be equally as awesome and amazing, and we’ll find new ways to make it even cooler." Holland has previously indicated that he wants to remain playing Spider-Man for decades to come, and there's no evidence his position has changed at all.
There are two possible approaches for Sony. The first is to conduct a soft reboot, retaining the same cast but relaunching Spider-Man apart from the MCU. The second is to continue the story launched in Spider-Man: Far From Home's post-credits scene, where the wall-crawler's secret identity was revealed to the world, and simply cut the MCU references. Surprisingly, that may not require a massive adjustment from Marvel's own plans. Feige had indicated (via CinemaBlend) that Spider-Man 3 would see Peter Parker step "out of the shadow of Tony, out of the shadow of the other Avengers, as his own man now." It's safe to assume the cameos will change, of course; Nick Fury and the like will be replaced by characters Sony has the rights to.
Spider-Man Will Be Woven Into The Venomverse
Sony has been building its own shared universe based on secondary characters from the Spider-Man franchise, and so far it's proven to be a remarkable success; Venom grossed over $856 million in the global box office. For all that's the case, though, these spinoffs lacked other well-known brands; Jared Leto's Morbius in particular has always seemed to be something of a gamble, given the character's lack of exposure. Fortunately, the studio's plan to develop their own superhero universe will be boosted by the addition of Spider-Man. "Now that we have our own universe, he will play off the other characters as well," Sony chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra noted.
It's generally assumed that Sony is reworking their plans right now, after the end of their deal with Marvel, but that might not be the case. It's entirely possible both Marvel and Sony felt the Spider-Man agreement was on the rocks some time ago, and that they've been planning accordingly; that would explain why there was no Spider-Man news in the MCU's Phase 4 announcement at SDCC 2019. It would also fit with strange reports from last year, when Kraven writer Richard Wenk openly talked about the idea of using Spider-Man in an adaptation of popular comic book story "Kraven's Last Hunt." At the time, this seemed to be a pretty strange comment, but it may well turn out to be prophetic.
Only a handful of projects are confirmed to be in the works right now. In addition to Morbius and Kraven, there's also the inevitable Venom 2, which is believed to have a higher chance of an R-rating now Sony don't need to opt for PG-13 in the hopes of tying in to the MCU. Sony is also reportedly developing projects based on lesser-known Marvel characters like Nightwatch, Jackpot, and Silk.
The Animated Spider-Verse Will Continue
Moving away from live-action, the award-winning Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse movie was the beginning of a new era of animated Spider-Man movies. Sony didn't even wait for the film to come out before they began work on both a direct sequel and an all-female spinoff starring Hailee Steinfeld as Spider-Gwen. David Callaham is writing the script for Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse 2, with Joacquim Dos Santos as director, while the as-yet-untitled spinoff has Bek Smith as writer and Lauren Montgomery as director.
Sony Is Launching Spider-Man TV Shows
The Spider-Man TV rights are as complicated as the film rights, but broadly, Sony currently own the live-action rights and animated shows with episodes over 44 minutes in length. Tony Vinciquerra recently revealed that the studio is working on five or six TV shows set in the Spider-Man world. These are believed to be live-action, and it's even possible they fit with reports of interest in Z-list characters like Jackpot and Nightwatch; perhaps these projects are actually TV series. Meanwhile, Sony has also signed a five-year TV production deal with Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the creative minds responsible for the success of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. There are unconfirmed reports that they're working on animated TV series that spin out of that movie.
The truth is that Sony is taking something of a gamble. While they're aware hardcore Marvel fans will be devastated at the end of their deal with Marvel, they hope that it won't make much of a difference for general audiences. There is some evidence for this, given comic book adaptations of lesser-known brands such as The Boys and The Umbrella Academy are flourishing on the small screen, and it's no longer unusual for superhero movies to break $1 billion worldwide. Venom succeeded without any clear Spider-Man hook, particularly in the Chinese market, and the addition of Peter Parker into that shared universe surely won't hurt. The interesting question is how Sony will balance the relationship between their new stories and the previous chapters of Tom Holland's Spider-Man saga; it will be fascinating to see how things play out.
- Morbius (2020) release date: Jul 31, 2020