The Beardict? Ultimately, fans lose.
Disney (which owns Marvel Studios) and Sony have failed to come to an agreement regarding the Spider-Man movie franchise. This parting of ways comes after Spider-Man: Far From Home was declared as Sony Pictures’ highest grossing film of all time, earning $1.1 billion in the global box office.
In their official statement, Sony said they are “disappointed” that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige will no longer be involved in the next Spider-Man movie, and it may be because he’s too busy with the ever-growing cast of heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Feige is credited for being the man behind the MCU’s roaring success, as it is under his watch and direction that the movie world got introduced to the Avengers, Doctor Strange, and even oddball group Guardians of the Galaxy.
Background: If Spider-Man is a Marvel Comics character, why is Sony even in the picture?
Back when Disney didn’t own Marvel Entertainment yet, Marvel licensed to Sony Pictures the movie rights to Spider-Man (and all related characters). Because of this, we were able to get the original Spider-Man trilogy which kicked off in 2002 (with Tobey Maguire as the wallcrawler and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson). When Sony and Director Sam Raimi had a falling out over creative differences after Spider-Man 3 (2007), the franchise was rebooted, resulting in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) with Andrew Garfield as the titular character.
In 2008, Marvel Studios produced their first film: Iron Man. With the charismatic Robert Downey Jr. playing billionaire superhero Tony Stark, it wow-ed audiences around the world, Disney executives most likely included. Not long after that, the company behind Mickey Mouse bought Marvel Entertainment.
After The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) was met with lukewarm success and failed to gain a solid following, Sony and Marvel struck a deal: Spider-Man was to be incorporated in the MCU, Marvel would assume creative control, and they would share in the profits. Naturally, fans went wild after Spider-Man appeared in the trailer for Captain America: Civil War.
After two successful solo films under the MCU (Homecoming and Far From Home), Spider-Man (now played particularly well by Tom Holland) was supposed to lead Phase 4 alongside heroes such as Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange. Now, that plan is in extreme jeopardy unless Disney and Sony can come to an agreement.
Fans are taking it out on Sony Pictures as the general view is that the studio mishandled the Spider-Man franchise throughout the years, and now that the MCU Spidey films have been making a lot of money, they want it back. Multiple online jabs have been thrown at Venom (2018), as the film received a Rotten Tomatoes score of 29%. However, the Raimi-led trilogy was a huge success, and it can be argued that it paved the way for the giant superhero industry that we have today. Additionally, Disney was not involved in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and yet it won Best Animated Movie in the most recent Academy Awards. Sony’s Spider-Man movies deserve a separate discussion, but for now, I just want to point out that while I’m quite sad about where this leaves MCU, it’s not fair to say that we will never get a great Spider-Man movie ever again.
The fact is, as Thanos said in Avengers: Infinity War, “reality is often disappointing.” Companies like Disney and Sony provide us valuable entertainment, but at the end of the day, we have to live with the decisions they make for their businesses. Allegedly, discussions fell apart because of profit-sharing: Disney wanted 50% of box office revenue moving forward (current agreement is just 5%). Of course, anything’s still possible, so have some faith, true believers. Disney and Sony can still change their minds, so we’re not yet in the endgame.
Photos courtesy of Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures