It's an amazing week to be a Spider-Man fan. The second trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming was absolutely electrifying, chock full of web-slinging goodness!
Unfortunately, there's also been a dark cloud on the horizon — an ominous hint from a Hollywood executive that Tom Holland's wall-crawler may exit the MCU after 2019's Spider-Man sequel. The Internet has gone pretty much crazy with worry. After all, he only entered the MCU last year.
Dig into this, though, and in my view you quickly come to the conclusion that there's no need to get stressed about this one.
Here's What's Been Said
In the video interview above, Spider-Man: Homecoming producer Amy Pascal — who worked at Sony until 2015 — seemed to cast doubt on the future of the Spider-Man deal. She observed:
"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."
The media naturally focused on the "it may never happen again" segment. Personally, though, I think Amy Pascal's words in the interview are garbled. She's actually trying to reflect on just how revolutionary the Marvel / Sony deal is — it's so unusual to see two studios work together so effectively.
In part, ironically, it works because Marvel Studios used to licence out their films before they ever started making their own movies; they're old hands at this approach. Meanwhile, the poor performance of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — combined with shareholder pressure in the aftermath of the 2014 hack — meant Sony knew this deal was their best bet. And it will likely continue to be their best bet.
Would Amy Pascal Be In The Loop?
But let's move to the specific matter of whether Sony will close the deal down in 2019. Would Amy Pascal actually know about the state of discussions between Marvel and Sony in the first place?
After all, we know that the two studios have sat around the negotiating table since the initial announcement; as recently as October last year, Tom Holland couldn't confirm his involvement in #InfinityWar, explaining:
"It’s all up in the air. I believe some sort of deal is in the mix, but I’m unclear as to what that deal is."
He's now confirmed for the film — Marvel's made no secret of that — so the two companies evidently worked something out. Would Amy Pascal know anything about these ongoing discussions?
Possibly not. For all she's a producer on Spider-Man: Homecoming, she actually announced she was leaving Sony only a matter of weeks after the Marvel/Sony deal went public (she later explained, "All I did was get fired"). She formed her own production company, Pascal Pictures, and they do typically work with Sony; but it's doubtful that she'd be privy to any of those high-level negotiations when she's not even part of either multibillion-dollar company.
Tom Holland's Contract: What We Know
Finally, let's go to Tom Holland himself. Last year, he revealed that he was confirmed for six Marvel movies:
"They give you options and those could be exercised whenever. Like a cameo in Avengers. I’m unclear as to which movies though. I do know I have three Spider-Man [appearances in other] movies and three solo movies contracted."
We don't know much about Tom Holland's contract, but his Spider-Man is clearly expected to appear in six Marvel productions. The cameos are Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4 (although it's worth noting Marvel clearly had to okay these with Sony).
Meanwhile, the mention of three solo movies dovetails perfectly with the leaked version of the Marvel/Sony deal that was proposed in 2014. That suggested Marvel would produce three solo Spider-Man films, to be released at two-year intervals. Note that the Homecoming sequel is booked for 2019 — just when we'd expect under that leaked proposal.
Personally, I think it's safe to say that Amy Pascal misspoke in the heat of the moment. The Marvel/Sony deal will have an expiry date — it's likely that Tom Holland's contract corresponds with the deal, so we can assume Marvel and Sony will book the third solo Spider-Man film for 2021.
After that, yes, the studios will need to sit down and renegotiate. But we shouldn't prejudge the outcome of those negotiations; the partnership between Marvel and Sony seems to be going well, and all signs are that the relaunched Spider-Man is a hit. It will be in both companies' interests to negotiate — although, of course, it will also then be up to Tom Holland to decide whether or not to renew his contract.
The Venom Factor
As an aside, I've noticed one very specific fear among Spider-Man fans. With Sony announcing the development of their own super-villains universe — with Venom and Silver Sable / Black Cat in the works — a lot of fans are wondering if the studio isn't angling to get Spider-Man back for that.
The timings don't work out, though; if you're trying to set up a rivalry between Spider-Man and Venom, you want the wall-crawler in for the introduction in 2018. Even if we assume Pascal is right and Tom Holland is wrong, the deal with Marvel would be expiring too late to easily integrate Spider-Man into this villains universe. We can safely write that concern off too.
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All in all, Spider-Man fans, take a lesson from Spider-Man himself: stop stressing, put in your earphones, and go chill. It seems pretty clear to me that Amy Pascal misspoke, and the Internet is doing what the Internet does best — going ballistic.
Pascal is absolutely right when she says that the deal between Marvel and Sony is unprecedented, but she's unlikely to be privy to any further discussions between the studios, and — with every sign the deal is working out — the odds are good that both studios would decide to play ball in the early 2020s.
Spider-Man: Homecoming will release on July 7th, 2017. The sequel is confirmed for July 5th, 2019.
(Source: New York Times)