News: Sony and Marvel’s Spider-Man Split

Here’s some news we weren’t expecting today: Marvel and Sony have been unable to reach a deal with regards to the movie rights for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man series, and are reportedly going their separate ways.

Now I’m going to go out on a limb and say it won’t stick, because between the massive fan backlash and the realisation of huge lost potential profits from being a part of the MCU and the cost of actually having to create and market the film themselves, Sony will likely realise they’re fighting an uphill battle and backpedal just like Disney themselves did with James Gunn’s firing and re-hiring. It will probably cause Spider-Man 3 to not appear in Phase 4 (which I guess we now know why that hadn’t already been announced), and get caught up in Phase 5 instead.

This leaves us with two possible scenarios going forward:

Scenario 1: Sony and Disney Reconcile

Regardless of how long it takes, Sony and Disney eventually bury the hatchet. It might be after a Venom/Spider-Man crossover outing, and it might be some time down the line, but it will happen. Kevin Feige refuses point blank to consider the interim film(s) to be canon and everybody moves on. Some of the cast is older and will have moved on to other things, the story will suffer as a result of the delay because the immediate effects of the issues raised in the end credits scene of Far From Home cannot be addressed with the immediacy they need.

By this point, Peter Parker is no longer the new face of the MCU. It’s headed up by T’Challa or Carol Danvers, and any momentum that the Spider-Man franchise had is gone.

Of course we could also find ourselves in a scenario where much of the above still happens, but the real world date catches up somewhat with the MCU timeline, and, assuming the actors are all still available, things carry on much as they should have, albeit very much delayed and missing something.

Or maybe we get Venom in the MCU as part of whatever reconciliation agreement needs to be made to bring Spidey back. Honestly a lot of it has to do with how badly Disney/Marvel want Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in the MCU going forward.

Scenario 2: Sony Never Comes Back to the Table

Maybe, just maybe, Sony sticks to their guns amid the outcry, and stays the course. Again, we get the expected, and somewhat anticipated, Spider-Man/Venom crossover used as a way to handwave Far From Home’s ending– Eddie Brock is looking into the Peter Parker story and the two get involved in some kind of hi-jinx together. It may even be a genuinely good movie, since Sony have shown with Venom and Spiderverse that they CAN make good Spider-Man content at a push. Of course, Spiderverse isn’t the best example, because while it’s their best superhero film ever, it’s their worst grossing Spider-Man film in history, though this is likely because it’s animated rather than live action and there’s still a bit of a stick up people’s butts regarding going to see animated films in the cinema as an adult.

So either lightning strikes or it doesn’t; maybe despite not being able to mention Tony Stark/Iron Man, the Avengers, Thor, Hulk, Doctor Strange, Thanos, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, the Snap/Blip, Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan, K.A.R.E.N, E.D.I.T.H, half of Mysterio’s team, Mysterio and the Vulture’s backstories or reference huge chunks of previous films AND not use or show the Iron Spider suit or any buildings referencing the skyline of the MCU in ANY WAY… maybe they manage to make it work. But how much of their audience do they lose in the process? How much of the audience is going to every MCU film that comes out by virtue of the fact that it’s an MCU film?

And of course the interviews in the run-up to release are going to all hinge on that bit of information, aren’t they? “Is this film part of the MCU?” “How do you get around not mentioning established events?” and so on and so forth. How much of the audience do they lose each time these get brought up?

So what’s the solution? Abandon the two films in early development, pay off Tom Holland’s contract and reboot once again?

The Bottom Line

It’s all going to blow over. It might take days, weeks, months, or even a year or two, but it’s all going to blow over. I’d stake… well, not my life on it, but a not insubstantial amount of money. I don’t accept that either Disney or Sony are willing to just set fire to two-plus future films of a billion or so dollars gross a piece over a botched negotiation.

I expect that whether it’s because the news is overblown and negotiations aren’t over, or because the fan backlash causes a rethink, or because calmer heads prevail, we will in fact see a Tom Holland-led Spider-Man 3 in the MCU in the future.

…We might just have to wait a bit, is all.

–Adam

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