The following was commissioned by Flickering Myth
Henry Bevan on Spider-Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe…
Some things in Hollywood are inevitable. One, Tom Cruise will do a ridiculous stunt. Two, James Bond will return. Three, the weird Sony-Marvel Spider-Man adoption deal is going to be hit with some studio politics.
It happened this week with Kevin Feige telling the Hollywood Reporter that in 2019 Spider-Man will be in the untitled Avengers 4 and that Marvel will help shape the inevitable Homecomingsequel, but that is “as far as it goes for now”. On the Sony side, Amy Pascal said: “One of the things that I think is so amazing about this experience is that you don’t have studios deciding to work together to make a film very often. In fact, it may never happen again—after we do the sequel.”
None of this should be surprising. It would be naive to think the deal would last forever, and of course, both studios would have a vague endpoint in mind in case they needed to abort. As Pascal states, this type of deal is rare. Homecoming is creating a new path and that means it could all go wrong. Luckily, it seems to be going well, with Pascal admitting in an interview with Screen Rant that she is a “total Marvel groupie” after working with them. See, studio executives are just like us!
Now, Sony’s plans for a Venom movie and a Black Cat/Silver Sable film adjacent to Tom Holland’s Spider-Man does complicate matters. It is still unclear how that will work, and if there will be any connection at all. But, even if the studio’s plans are successful, it would be foolish for them to leave the Marvel party.
Sony needs Marvel more than Marvel needs Sony. Audiences probably won’t be forgiving if there is another Spider-Man reboot, and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man will be defined by his relationship with the rest of the MCU. The biggest draw of his iteration is watching him interact with Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk. Removing his version of Spidey from this playground or immediately rebooting makes no creative or business sense.
There’s also Holland’s contract. He’s gone on record and said he’s contracted for Marvel’s standard six films. It normally breaks down as three solo movies and three other appearances. That would mean, assuming he’s in Infinity War, Avengers 4 would be his last group appearance, but he would still have one solo movie left. As producer Eric Carroll revealed, they want to keep the wall-crawler in high school for three movies, one per high school year as Homecoming opens when he starts his sophomore year. Sony could go it alone, but the MCU is such a tightly woven world the film wouldn’t work in a vacuum. It would need Marvel’s involvement.
Marvel are making the creative decisions on Homecoming. Sony gave them the money. From their point of view, it would make no creative sense for Tom Holland to be sucked up into a wormhole and deposited on another universe. Peter’s insistence on becoming an Avenger and Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) response that he wants Peter to be “better” than Iron Man, and the news that Avengers 4 will have a distinct tone from Avengers: Infinity War, it is clear Phase Four will introduce a new type of MCU. With multiple contracts ending, the MCU is at its most interesting point since the Avengers started their band. If Spider-Man, their most popular character, is being groomed to lead, it would be absurd to let him go.