It's one of the abiding mysteries of our time. #Marvel and Sony have made a deal to share the Spider-Man franchise between themselves, but just how does that deal work?
As we learned in the Sony leaks, Marvel Studios originally approached Sony with an offer where Marvel would produce a new Spider-Man trilogy, but Sony would retain "creative control, marketing and distribution." Sony initially turned them down, but the hacking scandal exposed their inability to manage the franchise and they were forced to return to the bargaining table. While a deal was done, the nature of it is still largely unknown.
When Marvel announced the deal, they declared:
Under the deal, the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film from Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU). Sony Pictures will thereafter release the next installment of its $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by Kevin Feige and his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films.
“Well, I’ve known all those people for a very long time. Amy Pascal, Tom Rothman, who runs Sony now, I’ve known for years. So, it’s been great. They really are supportive in allowing us to make the creative decisions to make [Spider-Man: Homecoming], but they’ve been great partners. So far so good on that movie.”
Hey U Guys has taken this to mean that Marvel has full creative control over Spider-Man — a glaring contrast to the original announcement. Other websites, such as Comic Book Movies, have followed their lead. However, look closely at Feige's comment. He says that the Sony team are "really supportive in allowing... creative decisions." In other words, it sounds as though the creative control still sits with Sony, but they're wisely giving Marvel a lot of room to maneuver. It's a sensible approach, and it follows with the wording in the original announcement: that Sony has "final creative control" over Spider-Man.
The plain and simple truth is that legal contracts are never plain and simple. It's entirely possible that the partnership between Sony and Marvel Studios is evolving into something it wasn't originally intended to be, and that an increasing amount of power is sitting with Marvel Studios. But contractually, the final say still lies with Sony, and this quote from Kevin Feige doesn't indicate otherwise.