UPDATE Feb. 9, 2015: Recent news that Sony and Marvel have reached a deal to share Spider-Man is quickly making waves. The events predicted in the article below seem to have happened fairly close to as predicted. Reports say Spider-Man's future will be somewhat co-owned by Sony and Marvel. Kevin Feige, Marvel's genius, will produce alongside Amy Pascal. Sony will retain the franchise by allow Spider-Man to appear in MCU films. In fact, reports are Spidey will make his next appearance in a Marvel film prior to his next film in 2017.
The question is - will that be Andrew Garfield or someone new?
Recent attacks by digital terrorists (because, honestly, that’s what’s going on here) have damaged Sony Entertainment, possibly irreparably for many of the studio’s projects and executives.
Those terrorists, who call themselves the “Guardians of Peace” and are speculated to originate from North Korea, have dumped stolen information into the news cycle presumably to injure the studio in retaliation for the release of Seth Rogen and James Franco’s The Interview. Others believe the work to be that of a rogue - and disgruntled - former employee based in Japan.
In the last week, leaked emails have painted a picture of serious negotiations between Sony and Marvel to share creative ownership of the Spider-Man license, and Sony’s executives mulling the possibility of stripping Garfield of the franchise web-shooters.
For fans, this is heady stuff.
There’s excitement over the possibility that Spidey could land in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - and plenty of speculation that the deal is done (it's not - still rumors). There’s concern the Spider-Man franchise will incur further damage because of hasty post-hack decisions. And there are mixed feelings about Garfield’s future as Peter Parker.
All of it seems possible. Probable, even. For some fans wildly exciting.
But what’s really going to happen? Let’s come down to earth and get a little logical.
Nothing - at first. At least nothing earth shattering. The dust will settle over the next few months and Sony will return to normal. The truth is the information leak will do little in a town that’s used to melodramatic opinions, private attacks and business decisions that sound personal (and in a lot of cases probably are). Hollywood is a business unlike any other. Because it’s so public in nature - and its employees public figures - these broken fences will be quickly mended.
Sony will retain all rights to Spider-Man. The brand is too powerful for Sony to give up or pass back to Marvel. The studio is far more likely to reboot than release the webslinger. While we all feel a little like it missed the mark creatively, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 still collected more than $700 million globally. Not far behind X-Men: Days of Future Past ($720 million, according to IMDb). Or even Guardians of the Galaxy ($768 million, also IMDb).
They may be swayed to team-up with Marvel - but not because of the leak. Screw the leak. Fan desire and dollar bills will eventually lead to a Sony-Marvel agreement. This is market research and analysis. If the demand is high and the numbers work out, Spidey will land in the MCU. There are egos to consider and money, too. Who has creative control? Who gets the most dollars? Distribution deals? Licensing? Dollars and desire will have the most influence here.
Sony will use the leak to shake up the Spidey world. In an odd way, the leak is a boon for Sony in that it allows it to reframe the story to suit its needs. Rather than take a beating for rebooting or refreshing the Spider-Man mythos once again, it can use the hack as a talking point for why it needs to refresh the franchise. You can already hear the public statement: “The criminal actions of a few have caused Sony to re-evaluate our go forward plans for the Spider-Man franchise and the films in that universe. Because much of the creative energy that was fueling our future plans for Peter Parker and his friends were released when we were hacked, we owe a debt to Spider-Man’s fans, paid back by rethinking our story so we can present them with a fresh take - a story they don’t already know and a story unblemished by the private opinions of our internal team and the external anger of a few, sad individuals.”
In summary, step back and take a deep breath if you’re hoping the Sony hack sends Spidey swinging over to Marvel Studios. While the hack is a big deal in the world of cyber security, it’s not a big deal in the creative eyes of Sony Studios. Life goes on. Movies get greenlit. Fans buy tickets.
Have faith, though, that the hack will bolster the studio’s resolve to figure out its Spidey situation and - hopefully - make changes that will breath new life into the franchise.