The future is not set. There’s no fate but what we make for ourselves. Sorry, wrong franchise, but damn, even the hint of alteration from what Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures have established with the Jon Watts-helmed Spider-Man films have us breaking out in hives and foreshadowing a dark future where the machines might as well rise up and eradicate us all. Not too long ago, Tom Holland‘s appearance as Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War felt like a mini-miracle. Two major studios coming to an understanding so both could secure mountains of cash. Makes sense, but the deal was unprecedented. Now, in the wake of the largest earnings ever for a Spider-Man movie, there is the possibility that their partnership might deteriorate.
Word of a stalemate between the two studios first arrived Wednesday afternoon when Deadline reported that Kevin Feige would not produce the third Spider-Man film of the current reboot/iteration. The initial statement indicated Disney and Sony could not agree on financial terms, which is not surprising when sources said Disney demanded a 50/50 co-financing split on the third and fourth features. Sony’s response to such an offer? Yeah, no way.
Then, later that evening, io9 got a hold of a nameless Sony representative who clarified the first, panic-inducing news. According to the site: “it’s their belief this dispute is simply over a producer credit, and negotiations are ongoing. They further clarified that Feige has contributed to other Spider-centric movies that he did not receive a producer credit on.” Ah, so, Feige is over-extended with too many projects on his plate and can’t be bothered with a billion-dollar machine? Hmmmm…sure, sure, sure. Whatever you say. We don’t believe it. We do believe that deals are in process, and it’s just as likely that they’ll smooth everything over and there will be no leadership change regarding the third and fourth Spider-Man flicks.
Deadline updated their first report with an official response from Sony:
“Much of today’s news about Spider-Man has mischaracterized recent discussions about Kevin Feige’s involvement in the franchise. We are disappointed, but respect Disney’s decision not to have him continue as a lead producer of our next live-action Spider-Man film. We hope this might change in the future but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him — including all their newly added Marvel properties — do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own. Kevin is terrific and we are grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue.”
Read: i.e., we don’t need you, Kevin. Venom and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse prove we know what we’re doing, and we can now make all the money by ourselves. You go and worry about your Disney+, Uncanny X-Men and Fantastic Four. We’ve got this.
That’s some big, bold talk and is more indicative of a conversation still in progress rather than a done deal. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that these two corporations will come to terms, and Tom Holland will continue to swing around in the same New York City that Doctor Strange and the Incredible Hulk occupy.
At the same time, what if that optimism is naive? How excited should we be concerning a Spider-Man barred from The Avengers? Spider-Man: Far From Home left several unanswered questions surrounding Peter Parker’s future, but it also set the stage for the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If Marvel Studios departs from the story they established, that drastically changes the path in which Peter Parker was placed. There is always an outpouring of frustration and concern whenever a creator is ripped from the narrative they concocted (look no further than the kerfuffle concerning James Gunn and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3). We want better for the webhead; we’ve seen the character mishandled enough in the previous two iterations.
While Holland is attached to whatever sequel should materialize, director Jon Watts is not. Should Kevin Feige wander away, he could take Watts with him to another MCU series of films waiting in the wings. That’s no big thing for Sony, depending on how well Andy Serkis does on Venom 2 and its inevitable box office windfall. The studio probably can port him over to Spider-Man 3 and maintain fan attention. While I may personally want Spidey to have his throwdown with Kraven the Hunter, we all know that Sony is just itching for a proper Spider-Man v Venom: Dawn of Justice throwdown.
Sony is swinging a big stick, playing a power-move under the shade of recent Spider-Man Universe success. Their confidence is strong, and hardball is the right move for them at this stage. They have to walk tall. Besides their absurd slate of Spider-Verse films, what other franchises do they have a firm grip on? They’ve got Ghostbusters, Jumanji, Men in Black, Charlie’s Angels, and the upcoming Grudge reboot. Not much else.
Sony Pictures is a guppy next to the Jaws that is Disney, but they also know that Spider-Man is considered a crucial element in the hearts of Marvel fandom. If rumors are to be believed, there is no bigger fan of the character than Kevin Feige, and Peter’s dusting from the MCU would leave the architect heartbroken. Dammit, he would not be alone.