Wait, Spider-Man isn’t leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore? How did the brawl between Disney and Sony start anyway?
Here is the backstory. Back when Marvel Entertainment was first starting off, it was not making enough money, leading the budding company to sell off their characters to larger companies such as Sony Pictures. Examples of sold characters include Fantastic Beasts, Venom and Spider-Man. Then Disney hopped onto the money-making band wagon and bought Marvel in 2009. Who knew that years later two monster companies – Disney and Sony – would go head-to-head over one character, Spider-Man?
Sony led the Spider-Man movie industry since the beginning, from Tobey McGuire to Andrew Garfield. However, Sony’s Spider-Man monopoly came to a temporary halt as Disney teamed up with Sony to include Spider-Man’s character in the Marvel Universe with his 2016 Marvel debut in Captain America: Civil War.
Back in 2013, Disney and Sony agreed upon a five-movie deal, stating that Spider-Man could appear in five Marvel movies before their contract terminated. Those movies became Captain America: Civil War, Spider-man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and Spider-man: Far From Home. The contract allowed Sony to keep Spider-Man’s film rights and the majority of the profits while Marvel received a smaller cut in exchange for Spider-Man’s appearance.
After the second titular Spider-Man movie released in July 2019, Sony could finally cut ties with Disney. What prompted this break? Money. In hopes of extending the contract, Disney asked Sony to equally finance potential future Spider-man movies, but Sony rejected the offer. Instead, Sony decided to produce Spider-Man films independently.
Another factor that gave Sony a reason to almost break away regards Venom, Spider-Man’s longtime villain and another Sony-owned character. Last October, Venom released its own film, yet fans were upset to find that Spider-Man did not participate. The demand for this dynamic duo to share the screen drove Sony to bring back Spider-Man, thus discussing to discontinue its partnership with Disney.
The desire for Venom and Spider-Man to appear together in a film is matched by general uproar over the loss of Peter Parker’s Marvel character development.
Bailey Uttich ‘20 said, “I was upset that Spider-Man wasn’t going to be a part of Marvel anymore. Peter Parker’s entire character development mainly revolved around his hardships as a teenager and hero. Iron Man, Peter Parker’s fatherly figure who had passed, also played a major role in forming Peter’s identity. If Sony could not even mention Iron Man, his entire upbringing could have been basically erased.”
Although Sony could potentially create a great Spider-man Movie with an unforgettable storyline and quality production, what will happen to Marvel’s rendition of Spider-man? About a month ago when Sony declared its initial decision to dissociate from Disney, there was a major uproar of negative feedback from fans. If Sony had dissociated itself from Marvel, Sony could no longer screen nor mention Marvel characters such as Iron Man, Spider-Man’s father figure and role model. What would have happened to Spider-man’s backstory? His character development leading to his current self is beloved by many.
To some, Spider-Man was just like any other superhero, but to most, the “friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man” was also a relatable character struggling with typical teenage problems such as love and self-confidence. After all, Spider-Man is a teenager. Unlike Sony’s interpretations of Peter Parker, Marvel presented Spider-Man with softer, relatable portrayal. He was “just a kid.”
And while millions of fans are still in shock from the Spider-man conflict, fans like Bailey are relieved that Spider-man is staying for one more movie to be expected for a 2021 release. Sony and Disney are large entertainment providers that many people would have never thought would have joined forces for the long-term, yet their eight-year-long relationship has continued to prosper through. This extension in their partnership is largely the result of the fans and their voices. Thankfully, because Disney and Sony have pulled through these complications, fans have another opportunity to see their “friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man” share the screen with big-time heroes like Hawkeye and Black Widow once more. And sooner or later even after Spider-Man may not be associated with Marvel no longer, his return to Sony will be far from the end.
Actor Tom Holland portrayed as Spider-Man, courtesy of Spider-Man Films Wiki