As the comic book movie fandom reels from the news that the partnership allowing Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe fell apart, one of the studios finally spoke out. In a statement, Sony blames Disney for removing the MCU mastermind Kevin Feige from forthcoming Spidey movies. Not only did they pass the blame, which much of social media put on them, they also lob a veiled shot at Disney for overworking the most successful Hollywood producer of the past two decades.
From Sony’s statement via The Hollywood Reporter:
“Much of today’s news about Spider-Man has mischaracterized recent discussions about Kevin Feige’s involvement in the franchise…. We are disappointed, but respect Disney’s decision not to have him continue as a lead producer of our next live-action Spider-Man film. We hope this might change in the future but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him — including all their newly added Marvel properties — do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own…. Kevin is terrific and we are grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue.”
The sticking point, as always, is money. Reports suggest that Disney wants a 50/50 financing split for the films, which means the two studios would also share profits. The current arrangement allows Sony to finance the solo films themselves, thereby reaping all the benefits. So, from their point-of-view, asking to split future Spider-Man box office receipts means that Sony’s billion-dollar franchise would be halved. However, Disney may resent that they essentially made a competitor’s most successful film and reaped no monetary benefit. Also worth noting is despite Disney’s soaring successes, the mega-media company posted losses in their most recent investors’ call.
What Does This Mean for Spider-Man In the MCU?
While it’s clear that Sony blames Disney for the loss of Kevin Feige, talk about Spider-Man’s place in the MCU remains absent from the statements. Sony may still carry on as if Tom Holland’s web-head still exists in that universe. Amy Pascal, a former Sony executive and producer on all Spider-titles, recently said that Jared Leto’s Morbius exists adjacent to the MCU. Feige, however, remains adamant that the Sony films without his influence are their own thing. Yet, he did seem receptive to bringing Tom Hardy’s Venom into the fold. The biggest problem here, actually, is Marvel Studios’. Sony can carry on with Tom Holland’s Spidey and obliquely refer to MCU characters.
Marvel Studios, on the other hand, set Spidey up as the spiritual successor to Tony Stark. If the partnership further devolves, meaning Spidey can’t appear in Marvel Studios pictures, it will be strange to see the MCU behave as if Spider-Man never existed. As many fans on social media pointed out, Tony Stark died to bring “the kid” back from the infamous Snap. Of course, as Sony notes in their statement, these discussions are not finalized. It took years for the first deal to get ironed out. And Feige has a history of helping Sony with Spidey movies. Because a bad Spider-Man movie is bad for the Marvel brand overall.
Luckily, there is time for Sony and Marvel to get their acts together.
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.