Standoff Between Sony and Disney VS Spider-Man’s Future in the MCU
For months, fans and insiders alike awaited the news that Sony and Marvel Studios extended their unprecedented deal to share the Spider-Man character. However, news broke on Tuesday that a standoff between Sony and Disney may effectively end Spider-Man’s participation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This comes as a shock, with at least one more movie rumored to be a part of the original deal. It was contingent on Spider-Man: Far From Home earning a billion dollars, which it did.
The largest result of the standoff between Sony and Disney is that Marvel Studios mastermind Kevin Feige will no longer produce the Spider-Man films, according to Deadline. The trade reports that director Jon Watts and star Tom Holland are signed on for two more Spidey films. Fans took to social media to express their sadness, with Sony taking most of their ire. Also, Sony’s stock dipped right when they expected it to go up with their purchase of Insomniac games, the studio behind the popular Spider-Man game for PS4. Let’s break down what we know.
The Original Deal For Spider-Man
Image via Insomniac
When Sony and Disney struck their deal to share the character, Spider-Man’s future in general remained in doubt. The last film in the original series disappointed as did the reboot starring Andrew Garfield. Sony originally intended for a shared Marvel universe of their own, but it fell apart with the failure of Amazing Spider-Man 2. So, Marvel Studios proposed a deal unlike any ever struck between two competing studios.
Marvel Studios would get to use Spider-Man in the Avengers films, and they would keep all the money. Sony, however, would finance the solo films and keep almost all of those profits, while Marvel Studios creatives would help shape and direct the story for five percent of the gross. Also, it should be noted, that Disney owns all of the merchandising rights for Spider-Man. Any merch based on Sony movies goes to the company, but it’s not like there is a single deposit account for all things Spider-Man.
Yet, since this deal happened, Sony turned things around. They released the Tom Hardy-vehicle Venom, which surprised everyone by earning about as much as Spider-Man: Homecoming did. (On half the budget, no less.) They also put out the animated hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, introducing the Miles Morales character to film for the first time and creating a shared universe of spider-characters. So, they may feel that they no longer need the larger MCU to help support Spider-Man, especially since casual moviegoers will not realize the change by the time a third Spidey film hits theaters. (And Sony just announced a re-release of Far From Home with new footage.)
What Caused the Standoff Between Sony and Disney?
As everyone’s grandmother once told them, money is the root of all evil. The standoff between Sony and Disney is one over profits. Specifically, Disney asking to split financing of the Spider-Man solo films. They wanted a 50/50 arrangement, whereby Sony would only reap half the profits from the solo films, while still not earning profits on Spider-Man’s guest appearances in other MCU films. Deadline reports that Sony proposed a counteroffer that Disney declined. Outraged fans made Spider-Man-related phrases the top five trending topics on Twitter in the US. Most of them, it seems, blame Sony when it appears that Disney is the one who’s being intransigent about the financial arrangement. Of course, the source for Deadline’s report may want to frame the story that way, so we won’t know for sure until we hear something more official.
Still, this puts Sony’s next Spider-Man film in a tough place, since Far From Home both set Spider-Man up as Tony Stark’s spiritual successor and revealed his identity to the world. The MCU doesn’t really do secret identities, and that development came from them, according to Watts. Yet, Sony likely reasons that the next film will do just as well at least the first Spider-Man did because Watts and Holland “set the tone” of these movies just fine without Feige. The also would allow the Holland version of the character to cross over with Venom and the other Sony Marvel films. They were reportedly in talks to bring those characters into the MCU as well, yet Sony and Disney executives could never really agree on that point. However, io9 reports this is simply about “a producer credit,” and nothing more. It appears Sony may be already backpedaling.
Is This the End of Spider-Man in the MCU?
Image via Sony
If the standoff between Sony and Disney continues, Spider-Man will likely be done in the MCU. However, these high-level, rights discussions can take a long, long time. The negotiations are still ongoing, according to Entertainment Weekly. Any Spider-Man sequel is only just in the development phase, which gives the other executives time for cooler heads to prevail. Before this deal happened, entertainment professionals and insiders scoffed at the idea that Spider-Man would ever end up in the MCU. So, the possibility remains that these two mega-entertainment groups can work things out before its too late. Ultimately, if this happens, it will happen because of pressure from the market. Either the fans, Sony’s investors, or both will send a loud enough signal to Sony that without Feige and the rest of the MCU, they are less interested in spider-films.
Still, even if this is the end of Spider-Man in the MCU, fans can be thankful for what we got. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is one of the most comics-accurate portrayals of the character. His roles in Captain America: Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame were wonderful, and fans delighted at seeing Spidey swing in to fight Thanos with the rest of the Avengers crew. As Marvel prepares to take their shared universe in a new direction without Iron Man, Cap, and many other original Avengers, they can perhaps use another character to fill Spider-Man’s role in those plans.
Spider-Fans Speak Out!
Many people took to Twitter to express their outrage at the breakdown of negotiations. While some blame Disney, most blame Sony.
spidey stans assembling to defeat sony pic.twitter.com/BiIbKicwAs
— isa (@smileyspideys) August 20, 2019
I don't blame Sony, though. Disney is asking for a lot, and at a time when Sony essentially won the Movies World Series w/ Venom grossing over $800M and Spider-Verse winning an Oscar. Sony is feeling good – if I were them, I'd probably be like, "We got this." But do they?
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) August 20, 2019
— Ellis Mbeh, PCM (@EllisMbeh) August 20, 2019
Everybody getting mad at Sony about MCU Spider-Man as if "Into the Spider-Verse" wasn't the superior version of Spider-Man. pic.twitter.com/7scqSDvv0n
— Petty Crocker, Pourer of Tea (@AWildJax) August 20, 2019
Sony and Disney discussing about sacking Tom Holland as Spider-Man and meanwhile… pic.twitter.com/oJBPERIgXK
— `nj☠ (@Najeeb__) August 20, 2019
Disney knowing damn well they're the reason the Spider-Man deal was cancelled and seeing everyone blame Sony pic.twitter.com/64MXQC5rqi
— Peter is Bread🍞 (@Peter_is_bread) August 20, 2019
You can't blame Disney for wanting more money when they made Sony's most successful film for them
— Mickey (@Mickeysei34) August 20, 2019
Not only has sony made a terrible decision, it makes absolutely ZERO sense to pull him out of the mcu when a HUGE part of his story arc was based on Tony Stark who is apart of the fucking mcu and everything that’s happened so far is a huge part of the canon mcu story. pic.twitter.com/fKJaW7KJ91
— 𝐦𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐞 ⎊ 𝐬𝐚𝐰 𝐟𝐟𝐡 𝐱𝟐 (@sunsetpeter) August 20, 2019
Spider-Man fans:- We can’t wait to see Spidey meeting with X-Men & Deadpool.
— God of Thunder ⚡️⚡️ (@Mana_K_Tum_) August 20, 2019
— Brent N (@ufor5) August 20, 2019
— Spider Mann (@ethan_cator) August 20, 2019
Y'all do realize that Sony is NOT to blame, right? Disney wants more and more money and Sony doesn't agree with it. Yes, you can be angry and be like "He is part of the MCU" blabla. I understand that but you can't blame Sony for rejecting their offer.
— Nico 🐼 (@Daellwon) August 20, 2019
What do you think of the standoff between Sony and Disney? Who do you think is at fault? Share your thoughts in the comments below or by sharing the article on social media.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.