What was once thought to be impossible is now happening. On Feb. 9, 2015, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios announced that Spider-Man will now appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the home of prominent superheroes like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk.
The funny thing is that this wasn’t supposed to be the plan at all. After it acquired ownership of Spider-Man in film, Sony was known to be fiercely protective of the most popular Marvel superhero. No one really expected Sony to loosen its reins on this franchise anytime soon, much less lend its character to another company. In fact, the entire purpose of The Amazing Spider-Man reboot in 2012 was so Sony could keep Spider-Man as its property. When 2012s The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, was a critical and financial hit, Sony made plans to make an entire Spider-Man cinematic universe, featuring a plethora of supporting characters and villains — not unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). After releasing the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man, they were planning to make third and fourth installments for the franchise, and finally cap it off with a Sinister Six movie. The Sinister Six movie was supposed to be a villain team-up of Spider-Man’s villains (sort of like an anti-Avengers) to fight Spider-Man. It was a solid plan for Sony that was guaranteed to make the company lots of money, and people were expecting smooth sailing.
So, what happened? Well, it turned out that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a massive piece of turd. Just kidding. It wasn’t that bad. In fact, even though I thought it had many problems, I still had fun watching it. However, it was still a step back in terms of progress in Sony’s Spider-Man cinematic universe plan. It was the lowest grossing movie in the series, and the collective opinion of both the critics and public seems to be that it’s the worst Spider-Man movie after Spider-Man 3, and that is obviously not a good thing. People were wondering what Sony would do with its property and whether the sequels would still be happening.
And then the Sony hacking-scandal happened. In winter of last year, The Interview was a comedy that generated controversy. In response, a group calling themselves the “Guardians of Peace” hacked Sony and later threatened to set bombs in various theaters that would show The Interview. As a result of that hacking, emails of Sony officials, including those of Sony chairwoman Amy Pascal, were leaked. Controversial statements from the private emails showed that Sony and Marvel had talked about the possibility of lending Spider-Man to Marvel Studios, although the negotiations had ceased. However, due to public scrutiny and the underwhelming results of the franchise, it seemed that Pascal and Sony didn’t really have a clear plan anymore.
Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise when Marvel announced that Spider-Man is appearing in the MCU. The deal made between these two companies states that Spider-Man still belongs to Sony. However, the character will be integrated in the MCU, with Sony continuing to finance, distribute and have creative control of the future Spider-Man films. In addition, the MCU might bring in characters of their own franchise to future Spider-Man films.
The final result is quite exciting, especially because this means that a new Spider-Man movie is planned to come out on July 28, 2017 as part of the MCU’s Phase Three. Interestingly, even though Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 sequels have been cancelled, the Sinister Six spin-off is still on the schedule. This also means that, for better or worse, this will be the second reboot of the Spider-Man franchise, making this the third Spider-Man we’ve seen since 2000.
Even though Sony appears to have most of the control of the Spider-Man franchise, we have to remember that with its current success, Marvel Studios doesn’t necessarily need Spider-Man in their universe. Of course, it will be interesting to see how Spider-Man will fit into future Marvel movies, especially for Captain America: Civil War because Civil War was the event where Peter Parker revealed his secret identity and had to choose sides between Captain America and Iron Man. Therefore, this decision is an added bonus for both Marvel Studios and comic book film fans, as we will finally see our favorite wall-crawler fighting side-by-side Iron Man and Captain America. The tradeoff is, that with the inclusion of the new Spider-Man film, the release dates of the other Phase Three films will be pushed back.
As for the new Spider-Man movie in 2017, it has been announced that Garfield will no longer be playing Peter Parker. Actually, there has been discussion whether the next Spider-Man movie will even have Peter Parker as Spider-Man. After all, we don’t need another origin story involving a radioactive spider and the death of Uncle Ben. Some are hoping that Miles Morales, a half-Black, half-Hispanic teenager around the age of 13, will be the next Spider-Man, just to freshen things up. Others want to keep Peter Parker, but shorten or ignore the origin story altogether. Fans are already speculating on who can be the next Web-slinger. Some potentials include Logan Lerman (“Fury,” “The Perks of Being a Wall Flower”), Taron Egerton (“Kingsmen: The Secret Service”), Dylan O’Brien (“The Maze Runner,” “Teen Wolf”) and Donald Glover (“Community”). Since Marvel is apparently looking for a young Spider-Man in high school, only time will tell which actor the producers will pick.
This business movie is not only huge for Marvel Studios and Sony, but also the comic book fandom as a whole. We’ve dreamed about this move ever since Nick Fury appeared in the post-credits scene of Iron Man in 2008. With the huge onslaught of comic book movies coming out this decade, Marvel movies have become a cultural empire, and it’s simply “amazing.”
– By Jake Choi, Staff Writer