The Sony corporation was recently the victim of a cyberattack that among other things, exposed several private intercompany emails to public scrutiny. Among those emails was corespondance between Sony and Marvel regarding the use of Spider-Man in future Marvel movies. Just the possibility of Spidey popping up in the next Avengers or Captain America 3 had fans frothing at the mouth. As of right now though no deal has been reached , however Sony has announced that they are having a “Spidey Summit” in January and many predict that if there is some sort of deal between Sony and Marvel it will be announced then. Of course we can (and will) still speculate in the meantime.
Will Spider-Man have a supporting roll at Marvel much like the Hulk currently does or will they launch a whole new series? Will Andrew Garfield still be Spider-Man or will yet another actor take up the red and blue? Will Sony continue it’s plans for a Sinister Six movie and further Spider-Man related films or will they sell Spider-Man to Marvel lock,stock, and barrel?
Let’s start with Andrew Garfield. Garfield was a great Spider-Man who just happened to be in less than great films. Honestly, of the myriad complaints that have been logged against both Amazing Spider-Man films, Andrew Garfield’s performance as Spider-Man is not usually at the top of the list. That being said, it’s understandable for Marvel to want to start their version of Spider-Man off with a clean slate. Many people forget that The Incredible Hulk is part of the the MCU; it’s easy to do as it was only the second movie to be produced by Marvel Studios and the only thing connecting it to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe is a small after credits appearance by Tony Stark. For all intents and purposes Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk is THE Hulk and Marvel may similarly wish to find the perfect actor to make their Spider-Man the only Spider-Man in the fans eyes.
Speaking of the Hulk, when it comes to the Jade Giant, Marvel is a fan of the age old addage “Less is more”. It’s no secret that the Hulk was one of the best parts of the Avengers and Marvel could have used that momentum to rush out a third Hulk movie and run the character into the ground. Instead, they very wisely kept him MIA until next summer’s Avengers Age Of Ultron. Would this strategy work for Spider-Man? It may not be such a bad idea for Marvel to restrict Spider-Man to supporting roles and cameos for a couple of years. There was such a backlash against Sony for rebooting the Spider-Man franchise so quickly after Spider-Man 3 that the fans may just straight up reject a third Spider-Man solo series. A little dose of Spidey on the other hand could go a long way.
The issue of whether or not Sony should continue putting out it’s own movies set in the Spider-verse is a trickier one. Sony started 2014 with big plans and even bigger ambitions. They wanted a piece of that Marvel pie and they were prepared to build their own cinematic universe to get it. Before the Amazing Spider-Man 2 even came out, Sony was confident that they were going to be using ASM2 as the foundation for a whole series of spin-offs and sequels. The biggest of which was a Sinister Six movie where six of Peter Parker’s deadliest foes would team-up for some sinister reason or another. There was also talk of solo movies featuring Black Cat and Venom. Sony had big plans, and then the Amazing Spider-Man 2 came out and all those plans came tumbling down around them. It’s no secret that ASM2 underperformed both critically and financially sending Sony into damage control and leading to both the Marvel discussions and ridiculous overreactions like the rumored Aunt May solo film. The films poor performance was in no small part do to the fact that it came across as more of a setup for future movies than it’s own stand alone film. One thing that Marvel figured out long ago was that each movie no matter what part it plays in the bigger picture needs to also stand on it’s own merits as a film.
As for selling the wall crawler outright to Marvel, Spider-Man and his cast of supporting characters and villains still has the potential (if handled correctly) to be a cash cow for Sony (we really don’t need an Aunt May movie though). Therefore Sony would be foolish to relinquish rights completely. Their best bet is some kind of shared deal where they co-finance Spider-Man appearances (and therefore co-reap the rewards of a huge box office) with Marvel. Or, you know, Disney having more money than (insert deity of choice here) could just buy Sony, thus eliminating the problem entirely.
No matter what happens though, Spider-Man deserves to be back on top as Marvel’s flagship character. Spidey deserves to be a front runner and not an also ran behind Iron Man, Thor and Wolverine. Maybe with some intercompany compromises and civil negotiations he can get there. Now if Fox could just give back the Fantastic Four …