If you casually combed through the internet drool today, you’d probably think that Sony sold Spider-Man back to Marvel to do with what they will. The MCU is even shifting around to make room for him in their third phase of movies (sorry, Thor, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Inhumans). It’s a brand new day! Spidey is back home!
Headlines are trumpeting, entire articles are beaming and balloons are being handed out. The only problem is that Spider-Man isn’t heading back to Marvel.
Here’s the phrase in the press release that everyone seems to be ignoring:
Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films.
And the beat goes on. That’s a direct, all-encompassing statement to include purposefully in an announcement that gives everyone what they want.
Obviously the creative trajectory for Spidey will change, and Marvel and Sony’s relationship is going to change, but the buck still stops with the studio that fans believe hasn’t done justice to the character since 2004.
He’s going to the MCU, but he’s not going to Marvel.
I believe the distinction matters. Granted, it’s not likely to be as problematic as the superhero days at Fox with Rothman behind the desk, but this is also hardly the fan pipe dream victory that many are making it out to be. All it means is that Sony is bring in some major help, that they’ll coordinate with Marvel more closely, and that Kevin Feige will be directly involved in shepherding the character toward his next incarnation.
That’s all good news. It is. Spider-Man gets to play with The Avengers and puzzle over Groot, but he’s also still firmly rooted in the studio world that he’s belonged to for years. The saving grace is that Avi Arad’s name is nowhere near that press release. If he’s given an EP credit but not involved as an active producer, we can all sleep a little easier.
If there’s any doubt that the character isn’t “coming home” so much as he’s being loaned out, re-read how the press release opens:
Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios announced today that Sony is bringing Marvel into the amazing world of Spider-Man.
Sony is letting Marvel in on Spider-Man. Surreal.
All this to say that I’m holding out on throwing a parade until two summers from now. Or at least until we see the first trailer. It’ll be great to see Spidey dunk on Hulk, but total victory still lies in the distance.