After eight years, Spider-Man has finally joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tom Holland's appearance as Marvel's flagship hero in Captain America: Civil War was a triumph for Marvel Studios, and it all happened thanks to an agreement with Sony. In early 2015, the news we had all waited for broke after Sony and Marvel agreed to a deal that would allow Spider-Man to appear alongside the likes of Iron Man, Captain America and the rest of Marvel's heroes.
Now, we eagerly anticipate the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, the appropriately named solo-debut of Spidey in the MCU. His appearance in Captain America: Civil War was met with universal acclaim, critics and fans alike raved about Tom Holland's portrayal of the web-slinger. I've said already that I think this was the quintessential film version of Spider-Man. It seemed that having Spidey back in Marvel's hands was the perfect move - and now, Sony has confirmed that they are ready to co-operate further.
A Match Made in Heaven
Sony Entertainment Chairman, Tom Rothman, was recently asked about the possibility of further collaboration between the two studios. Two questions were posed, would Sony be working with Marvel on other projects (presumably, non-Spider-Man projects!) and would they be building a Spider-Man movie universe:
“Yes to both those questions. It’s been fantastic, our relationship with Marvel.”
The future looks bright, it seems that Marvel and Sony have formed a great working relationship and this can only benefit Spidey's cinematic future. The interesting thing is the answer regarding the Spider-Man movie universe. Of course, Spider-Man will now be part of the MCU, but Sony does have a history in attempting to create a universe based around the wall-crawler.
What Might Have Been...
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was met with mixed reviews and one of the main criticisms was the heavy world-building element. Sony had a grand plan, a plan that involved a whole cinematic universe exclusively for Spider-Man (basically, they were trying to compete with Marvel). Electro was the main villain of the film, though we also had appearances from The Rhino and Green Goblin, but there were strong hints towards the future that Sony was building towards.
The Sinister Six have been a thorn in Spider-Man's side for many years, and Sony wanted to utilise this. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 features Easter eggs showing the Vulture's wings and Doctor Octopus's arms, along with a tease in the credits for Mysterio and Kraven to complete the set. Perhaps due to the success of the Superior Foes of Spider-Man comic, based on another incarnation of the Sinister Six, Sony had decided that they would make a standalone film about this villainous team. But that wasn't all. Sony intended to make a Venom standalone film (which could have been interesting) and there was even a plan to make an Aunt May film!
If that wasn't enough, the plans for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 were even crazier. Denis Leary, who played Captain Stacy in the series, has said that the film would have seen Peter Parker struggling to deal with Gwen's death in the previous film. This all sounds totally reasonable, but just wait, Leary went on to say this:
"Part of the discussion was the possibility in 3 there was this idea that at one point Spider-Man would be able to take this formula and regenerate the people in his life that had died […] so there was this discussion that Captain Stacy would have come back even bigger in episode three"
Yes, you read that right - Spider-Man was going to revive the dead! I understand that revival is commonplace in comics, but I have to say we have dodged a bullet there!
So, Who Has Creative Control?
Obviously, an agreement such as this one between the two studios is a delicate thing. There must be a balance that satisfies both parties, and this begs the question - who has creative control over Spider-Man? We've seen where Sony would have taken the character, and it seems like we have had a lucky escape. But how do we know that the studios won't follow a similar route? Thankfully, Tom Rothman was kind enough to clarify this for us:
“Sony has the ultimate authority. But we have deferred the creative lead to Marvel, because they know what they’re doing.”
The world can breathe a sigh of relief - Marvel will have creative control over Spider-Man. Yes, Sony have to agree to Marvel's decisions, but I think the key part of that quote is the final six words - because they know what they're doing. If anything proved that, it was Spidey's appearance in Captain America: Civil War! As well received as Andrew Garfield was in the lead role, Tom Holland and Marvel showed the very essence of Peter Parker. He wasn't in the film for long, but he made a huge impression, as I explained in my previous article.
The Future is Bright!
It's probably fair to say that Sony were desperate to keep Spider-Man, so desperate in fact that they lost their way slightly. I personally enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel, but having now seen Marvel's version, I can see their flaws (though the costume in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was PERFECT!). When it was announced that Peter Parker would be recast for the MCU, I initially thought that Andrew Garfield was a bit hard done by as he was very good. But if there is one thing I have learned from watching the MCU films, I trust Marvel, as does Tom Rothman, who goes on to say:
"A movie like Spider-Man by Marvel, that’s not inexpensive. But it’s a great investment. Knowing that Marvel has such a clear, creative vision, I sleep very well at night."
The MCU is a film juggernaut that just keeps on growing. I have already alluded to my theory that Iron Man's appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming could be a passing of the torch. Iron Man is the undoubted figurehead of the MCU at the minute, but with a younger Spider-Man we could well see the beginning of a new age of Marvel films. Spider-Man has retaken his rightful place in the MCU, it seems to me that it is only a matter of time before he takes his place as Marvel's flagship hero on the big screen as well!