By Owen Kennedy
Spider-Man and Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans were left on tender-hooks back in August following the heart-breaking news over the split between Sony and Disney, wherein Sony Pictures pulled Spider-Man and his connected characters, including his famous rogue gallery. All we knew of the breakdown between the two was that Disney weren’t happy with the current deal between themselves and Sony and tried to re-work it. Fans were down in the dumps until September 27, when it was announced that a new deal had been reached between Sony and Marvel Studios, whose parent company is Disney. So, what exactly happened?
Back in February 2015, Disney, Marvel Studios and Sony announced a deal to share the Spider-Man film rights, leading to a new iteration of Spider-Man being introduced and integrated into the MCU. The deal allowed Sony to have final say over the released cut and distribution of Spider-Man films that Marvel Studios had full creative control over while in production, while Disney were to distribute the ones where Spider-Man was not the main protagonist. Tom Holland portrays this younger version of Spider-Man, appearing in Captain America: Civil War (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), as well as the sequel to Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019). All of Spider-Man’s MCU appearances received positive critical and audience reviews.
In August 2019, Disney and Sony could not reach a new agreement regarding Spider-Man films. Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige, their current president, who oversees each film, were to have no further involvement in future films. Deadline Hollywood noted that Disney had hoped future films would be a “50/50 co-financing arrangement between the studios”, with the possibility to extend the deal to other Spider-Man-related films, an offer Sony rejected and did not counter. Instead, Sony hoped to keep the terms of the previous agreement, where Marvel would receive 5% of the film’s initial theatrical gross, but Disney refused. It should be noted that Sony got no profits from Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War or Avengers: Endgame. The Hollywood Reporter added that the lack of a new agreement would see the end of Holland’s Spider-Man in the MCU. Variety cited unnamed sources who claimed negotiations had “hit an impasse” and that a new deal could still be reached. On August 24, 2019, Feige commented on the issue at Disney’s D23 Expo:
“We got to make five films within the MCU with Spider-Man: two standalone films and three with the Avengers. It was a dream that I never thought would happen. It was never meant to last forever. We knew there was a finite amount of time that we’d be able to do this, and we told the story we wanted to tell, and I’ll always be thankful for that.“
The following month, however, a new agreement was reached, with a third MCU Spider-Man film set for release in July 2021. Fans rejoiced over this news, including myself. Details are still very sketchy on how the new deal was reached but, according to many sources, Tom Holland himself had a huge role in persuading Sony to open up to new talks with Marvel Studios and Disney. Thankfully for all of us, Holland’s Spider-Man will remain in the MCU but will also, reportedly, be appearing in the sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (2018), Space Jam/Looney Tunes: Back in Action style.