Uh oh. It looks like Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige will no longer be producing any more Spider-Man films with Sony Pictures. The news comes after months of negotiations fell apart due to a profit sharing dispute between Sony (who still holds the movie rights to the character) and Marvel Studio’s parent company, Disney.
This means Spider-Man will no longer appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Worse still, crossover appearances and cameos from MCU characters in future Spider-Man films will have ended with Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019).
According to Deadline (the news outlet that first broke the story), Disney requested future Spider-Man films be 50/50 co-productions. This would give Disney and Marvel a larger share of the profits. As opposed to the existing agreement, which gives Marvel (and Disney) a mere five percent of gross box-office takings, as well as all merchandising revenue. Sony turned down the request, preferring to extend the current deal.
Courtesy of this impasse, it appears as if the two studios will be going their separate ways once more.
Sony has owned the movie rights to Spider-Man since 1999. Acquired at a time when Marvel was recovering from bankruptcy and had licensed out a number of its characters to film studios. In the years that followed, Marvel has managed to regain the rights for most of its characters – with the exception of Spider-Man. Who is, without a doubt, still the most popular character outside of Marvel Studios.
Spider-Man made his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War (2016), courtesy of a landmark deal between Marvel and Sony in 2015 that allowed the character to appear in crossover Marvel Studios films. Marvel also began co-producing Spider-Man films with Sony – although the rights to the character, “final creative control”, financing and distribution were still controlled entirely by Sony.
After the success of the partnership, Sony executives credited Feige and the Marvel Studios team with revitalizing the character on the big screen. Part of the success was also largely due to popular MCU characters, such as Robert Downey JR’s Tony Stark and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, being included in Spider-Man movies.
According to reports, there are still two more solo Spider-Man films in the works. However, Sony feels that actor Tom Holland (who is still under contract for one more film) along with
the combined creative team of director Jon Watts (who worked on Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) ) and producer Amy Pascal; will be enough to keep the Spider-Man franchise’s momentum going for future films. All without the involvement of Marvel and Feige.
Spider-Man’s absence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is likely to have a significant impact on future storylines in the next phase of movies. The split will also hit fans pretty hard, as it comes right on the heels of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers leaving Marvel with Avengers: Endgame (2012).
[Note: There has been no official comment from Marvel/Disney or Feige. Sony official statement]