Quite a few movie news outlets I read frequently, such as Comicbookmovie and Fandango's HeroCentral, have reported that Spider-Man, a Marvel Comics character (for now) licensed to Sony, will appear in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe, which so far includes Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Avengers and The Guardians Of The Galaxy).
And speaking of [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073), it's worth mentioning that the most amazing thing about that movie is that it's based on a bunch of characters before the movie virtually no one had ever heard of–and was hugely successful despite that fact.
And while I don't pretend to have any sort of inside track, common sense tells me that it's not going to happen for three reasons:
- First: Marvel Wants ALL Their Characters Back
Marvel wasn't always as successful as they are today. In fact, there was a period when–before they opened a movie studio–that they were so close to bankruptcy that they licensed their most successful characters to movie studios like Sony (Spider-Man, Ghost Rider and related characters), 20th Century Fox (X-Men, the Fantastic Four and Daredevil), and Universal Pictures (Namor, The Submariner) in an effort to keep their heads above water (I feel reasonably safe in assuming that Marvel receives a percentage from every movie produced by rival studios that use their characters, despite the lack of evidence because that's traditionally how licensing works).
Marvel has so far regained Blade from New Line (now a part of Warner Bros), Ghost Rider and [Daredevil](movie:47230), though their rights to their most popular characters, like Spider-Man and the X-Men, so far remain elusive.
So, based on Marvel Studios efforts so far it makes sense that they would also pursue their first-stringers as diligently as their tertiary characters.
And speaking of first-stringers, let's take a closer look at Spider-Man, which has recently seen an undeniable decline at the box office, especially compared to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies. If the decline continues–which I think is likely if Sony can't figure out how to stabilize a listing franchise–the point when they can no longer remain profitable looms like the mists of Mysterio, increasing the likelihood that Spider-Man returns to Marvel.
A little tarnished, to be sure, but back nonetheless.
- Second: What's In It For Me?
What's the benefit of Marvel providing what essentially amounts to life support for Sony?
Let's assume for a moment that the rumors are correct. What Marvel Studios would be doing is in effect ensuring that they never get the rights back to Spider-Man for the foreseeable future, while Sony gets the gift that keeps on giving: a revived multi-billion dollar franchise.
Now I understand that Marvel Studios takes a very fan-centric approach to their movies, which is one reason that I enjoy watching them. That being said, working with Sony in this particular instance seems really dumb (which is not to say that there couldn't be more to the deal than meets the eye, though as it has been described I don't understand why Marvel would bother). Though perhaps more importantly, I can't see how Marvel Studios and Sony could enter into any sort of power-sharing arrangement over Spider-Man because of what I imagine are some really thorny logistical issues.
That being said, there were rumors early on that Andrew Garfield had turned up on the set of The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, though they turned out to be little more than wishful thinking (and creative use of Photoshop).
- Third: As Much Marvel Studios Wants The Characters, Including Spider-Man, Back, They Don't Necessarily Need Them
I mentioned earlier that Marvel Studios have been in the past few years seeing the return of their prodigal children, and that's undeniable. That being said, as much as Marvel may want Spider-Man (the X-Men and the Fantastic Four) back, they don't necessarily need him back.
Recently Marvel Studios has hit a few roadblocks, which are often overblown, such as Edgar Wright leaving Ant-Man or Joachim Phoenix turning down the lead in [Doctor Strange](movie:559685), though those are less problems than the cost of being successful and able to dictate the terms under which your movies are made.
The truth of it is that Spider-Man, along with the X-Men and the [The Fantastic Four](movie:34667), represent the best of Marvel Comics, and the studio would be insane if they didn't want them back in the fold for that reason alone. By way of comparison, it's as if Batman and Superman were licensed to Universal or 20th Century Fox instead of Warner Bros.
Though lacking their crown jewels has forced Marvel Studios to innovate in ways that Warner Bros/DC is only recently catching on to. By which I mean Marvel has made movies based on Iron Man, Thor and Captain America less because they thought that they were their strongest characters they had than they weren't able to use Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.
And Spider-Man is one of Marvel Comics' earliest and greatest characters, though I think that they want him back less for monetary reasons (though they're there) than what he represents, which is arguably the first superhero that was portrayed in a somewhat realistic fashion, compared to other characters from the same time period and their competition.
Spider-Man was always more easier to relate to than either Batman or Superman, which makes him a perfect missionary for Marvel, and more than enough reason to get him back.