As many of us know, the recent hacking of Sony Pictures has driven company morale to al all-time-low. However, even if they weren't hacked, Sony really dug themselves into a hole in regards to their handling of the Spider-Man franchise.
It all started with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Producer Avi Arad and the other executives at Sony wanted to try to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So they decided to make The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a bigger production, putting in more character arcs and build up for a Sinister Six film. Unfortunately, what it all led up to was what many felt was a chaotic mess of a sequel. Audiences were disappointed with the overabundance of villains and plotlines, as well as the death of a fan-favorite character. Even worse, the film severely underperformed expectations at the box office, and became the lowest-grossing Spider-Man film yet.
Sony's disappointment with the sequel arguably lead to a string of extremely poor business decisions. Plans for an all-female Spider-Man movie and an Aunt May movie absolutely baffled fans. Moreover, the decision to delay The Amazing Spider-Man 3 to 2018 in favor of releasing The Sinister Six in 2016 was a plan that was dead on arrival; if they had trouble introducing three villains in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, how could they possibly introduce an entire team of villains in a movie that Spider-Man isn't even in? This is where Marvel Studios comes in to play.
Various sources say that Marvel Studios was extremely critical in Sony's business-before-storytelling strategy when it comes to Spider-Man. It was even confirmed through leaked emails that Marvel wanted to make a deal with Sony to have Spider-Man in Captain America 3: Civil War. Though Sony stubbornly wanted to keep creative control and declined the deal, that all might be about to change...with a few conditions.
Sources also say that Marvel still plans on making a 60/40 deal, with Marvel handling creative control and Sony distributing. However, if these plans go through, Marvel wants to start their Spider-Man movies with a clean slate. In other words, the Raimi and Webb movies will be non-canon, and all characters will be re-cast. That means Andrew Garfield will no longer be playing the webslinger.
Supposedly, Sony chairman Amy Pascal was extremely critical of the idea of re-casting Garfield. This could have easily been one of the main reasons the initial deal fell through. However, as the Latino Review suggests, her recently exposed behavior could have weakened her position.
In addition, Garfield has gotten into hot water with Sony more than once this year. In September, he made comments blaming Sony's executive meddling for The Amazing Spider-Man 2's underperformance at the box-office. The next month, he reportedly no-showed a corporate dinner with several of Sony's Japanese executive bosses (including CEO Kaz Hirai). These factors certainly make it more likely that Sony wants to replace him.
Many fans will undoubtedly be upset at Garfield's departure; many feel that his dedicated performance was one of the best aspects of the new Spider-Man movies. In some ways, he got cast as Spider-Man at the wrong time. However, in the long run, maybe it's best for Marvel Studios to start fresh. After all, the franchise does need some serious revitalization after what Avi Arad and the Sony executives did.
At the moment, it doesn't seem likely that Spider-Man will be in Captain America: Civil War, but there is indeed hope for Spidey to come back home to Marvel Studios. As the old saying goes, only time will tell.