One of the most intriguing stories to come out of the Sony hack last year was the revelation that Marvel Studios had been engaged in secret talks to include Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sony holds the license to produce Spider-Man films, and has shepherded the character through a rebooted franchise starring Andrew Garfield in the title role.
All that may be about to change. Straight from the horse’s mouth at Marvel.com:
Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios announced today that Sony is bringing Marvel into the amazing world of Spider-Man.
Under the deal, the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU). Sony Pictures will thereafter release the next installment of its $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by Kevin Feige and his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films.
Marvel and Sony Pictures are also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films.
The news raises several questions. Will the “new direction” for Spider-Man take the form of another reboot? Or will the world of The Amazing Spider-Man films be integrated into the existing MCU? How will Marvel Studios ensure the continuity of their cinematic universe if Sony retains “final creative control” of Spider-Man’s adventures? It all seems very risky, at least without additional details spelling out how it will work.
Might Marvel pursue a similar arrangement with Twentieth Century Fox to bring the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the MCU? It certainly seems more likely after this news, but would depend on a lot of unknowns. Will the new Fantastic Four reboot be a hit? Will the forthcoming X-Men Apocalypse prove as successful as last year’s Days of Future Past? Will this arrangement with Sony pan out successfully? If the answers to all those questions are yes, then a broader collaboration may make sense.
The downside to bringing all these characters into the same universe is that it crowds out less popular ones. There’s an argument that the MCU as we know it never would have been made if Marvel retained the rights to make Spider-Man and X-Men films. Would something like Guardians of the Galaxy have been made if Marvel could have fallen back on a better known property? Will the inclusion of Spider-Man in the MCU actually stagnate its creative development?
No matter how it pans out, it’s probably safe to say that all studios concerned are about to make a ton of money.