Ever since the news broke that the Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios partnership that saw Spider-Man appear in the MCU had collapsed, there’s been a lot of misinformation about why this was the case. It’s tricky to know what’s really going on given that these are complex and (apparently) frosty negotiations between the two corporate behemoths, and the PR line about the dispute simply being over Kevin Feige’s producer credit looks flimsy. Fortunately, Borys Kit at THR seems to have the real inside scoop, shedding some light on why Sony Pictures thinks they can go at it alone with Spider-Man.
This is largely based on the two studios being in a very different place than they were when they signed the original Spider-Man agreement in 2014. Back then, Sony Pictures had released the largely derided The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which despite pulling in $700 million at the global box office, was considered a failure. This put the brakes on Sony’s plans to establish their own Spider-Man cinematic universe.
Meanwhile, Marvel Studios wasn’t quite as unassailable as it is now. Avengers: Age of Ultron made big bucks but wasn’t very good, and Thor: The Dark World still marks the low point for the MCU. However, they were about to hit it big with Guardians of the Galaxy. All that combined to make both parties eager to work together. Sony’s Spider-Man IP was immediately reinvigorated, with Spider-Man: Homecoming being a big hit, and the presence of Peter Parker in the MCU gave Marvel Studios a “stem cell infusion,” according to an insider.
But now, the territory is very different. Sony believes they’ve “bounced back,” buoyed up on the Oscar-winning success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Venom. In fact, a Sony insider’s quoted in the article as saying: “Tom is thinking ‘Okay, we’ve learned everything we need to from Kevin’s playbook. We did Venom on our own and we did Spider-Verse.” Plus, the Disney/Fox merger has implications for Sony too, with THR’s analyst explaining:
“The economic terms for that [Spider-Man] franchise seem to have gotten more complicated – partly reflecting Disney’s shifting priorities since the Fox acquisition. From an economic and creative standpoint, I would think the development probably has more implications either way for Sony.”
But despite this, both studios would be leaving a lot on the table if the situation remains this way. I’m sure the prospect of Far From Home ending with a never-to-be-resolved cliffhanger will be driving a perfectionist like Kevin Feige absolutely crazy. As such, my bet is that they’ll figure out a way to fix this without either side losing face. If not, then at least we finally get that Spider-Man vs. Venom film we’ve been crying out for.