On Tuesday, Disney and Sony Pictures failed to reach a financial agreement concerning one of cinema’s most popular superheroes, Spider-Man. As a result of this fallout, Kevin Fiege, Marvel Studios President, may have no say in what happens to the character of Spider-Man in future films, giving Sony complete control over the character and possibly ejecting the character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In Feb. 2015, it was revealed that Disney, owners of Marvel Studios, and Sony, owners of the rights to Spider-Man, had created a partnership that would allow the character to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which brought superheroes like Iron Man, Captain America and The Guardians of the Galaxy to the big screen. The deal was overseen by Sony producer Amy Pascal and Fiege, and would allow Pascal to co-produce films with Fiege centered on Spider-Man with Disney taking 5% of profits while Disney would produce and keep all profits made from any films featuring Spider-Man as a supporting character, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Following this deal, five films featuring Spider-Man were released within a span of four years. The first appearance of Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland, was in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” and featured Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr., recruiting the web-slinger to fight Captain America, played by Chris Evans. In 2017, Spider-Man got his first solo film in “Spider-Man: Homecoming” which saw him attempt to stop an underground weapons dealership led by The Vulture, played by Micheal Keaton.
The next two MCU films starring Holland were the much anticipated “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame,” released in April of 2018 and 2019 respectively. Both of these films brought in massive profits when “Infinity War” became the fifth highest grossing film of all time and “Endgame” soared past “Avatar’s” all-time record to become the highest grossing film of all time. Following these films, Spider-Man’s second solo film, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” was released and became the first Spider-Man film to gross over 1 billion dollars, according to Box Office Mojo.
With all of these films making money, Disney tried to renegotiate a new financial agreement which would split the profits from future Spider-Man films 50/50, according to Deadline. Representatives from Sony refused this offer and tried to offer alternate solutions but, ultimately, both studios could not reach an agreement. This led Sony to issue a public statement Tuesday stating “Much of today’s news about Spider-Man has mischaracterized recent discussions about Kevin Fiege’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.” So it is still possible that Sony may continue to make more Spider-Man films, just without Disney’s help if a deal cannot be made.
This recent turn of events has already sparked a backlash from both fans and celebrities across social media platforms. One of the most vocal celebrities was Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye in the MCU, who took to Instagram on Tuesday demanding that Spider-Man be returned to Marvel Studios in a post which read “Hey @sonypictures we want Spider-Man back to @therealstanlee and @marvel please, thank you #congrats #spidermanrocks #please.”
While it appears that Sony and Disney’s partnership may be over, Sony created its own Marvel Universe with the release of “Venom” in Oct. 2018. The film was a massive hit, grossing 856 million dollars, and Sony has already ordered two more films in the franchise with a film centered on Morbius the living vampire, played by Jared Leto, and a “Venom” sequel with both films to be released in 2020. While these films aren’t created with Marvel Studios, they still exist within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, according to Sony. “Although you’re not going to see them [“Venom” and its spinoffs] in the Marvel Universe, it’s in the same reality,” Pascal said in 2017, according to ScreenRant.
Despite this financial disagreement, Spider-Man may not be gone yet as a Sony Representative commented Tuesday that the “dispute is simply over a producer credit and negotiations are ongoing,” according to Comic Book Resources. If a financial agreement can be met, then Fiege and Pascal will continue to produce Spider-Man films that will be interconnected in the MCU. If not, then the friendly Spider-Man may be swinging in a different neighborhood.