Sony and Disney have been unable to reach an agreement over the rights to Spider-Man’s existence on the silver screen, ending Marvel Studios and president Kevin Feige’s involvement with the franchise, according to Deadline. This means that future Spider-Man films, even if they star the universally beloved Tom Holland as Peter Parker, cannot interface with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or any characters that Marvel may own the film rights to.
According to Deadline, Disney wanted a bigger piece of the Spider-Man pie, which Sony flatly refused. Sony then countered with an offer to continue the agreement that brought Spider-Man into the MCU in the first place, which Disney refused. Both parties have now walked away from the table, leaving Spider-Man solely in Sony’s hands. After Marvel lead the Webcrawler’s middling movie history to new heights of success with Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, it appears that Sony is content with thanking Marvel for all the fish, and going it alone.
Deadline reports that two more Spider-Man films are already in development at Sony, with Homecoming and Far From Home director Jon Watts attached, along with Holland reprising the role of Spider-Man. But even with those familiar names on-board, it’s deeply unlikely that these new films would continue the plot lines established by the first two movies, as Sony wouldn’t have the rights to include any Marvel Cinematic Universe characters. Peter’s pivotal relationship with Tony Stark, for instance, is no longer legally possible, since Marvel owns the film rights to Iron Man.
To its credit, Sony did produce the widely hailed Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse without the assistance of Marvel Studios or Feige. Likewise, last year’s Venom was a critical and commercial success, and it too was a Sony-only joint. And even if Marvel isn’t involved, Sony can use Homecoming and Far From Home as blueprints for its next Spider-Man films and try to keep the cash train rolling that way.
Disney, then, is the one that truly suffers from the collapse of this tenuous agreement. Spider-Man can no longer appear in any future Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and neither can the 900 other characters that also exist under Sony’s Spider-Man umbrella. This means no Venom, no Carnage, no Black Cat, no Mysterio, and no Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider in any of Marvel’s Phase 4 films.
Prior to Marvel’s deal with Sony to get Spidey into the MCU, Sony had to produce a Spider-Man film every three years to prevent the license from reverting back Marvel. It seems that this will once again be the case, though now that Spider-Man is absurdly popular, Sony may not feel the need to reboot the franchise entirely, as it did when transitioning from Sam Raimi’s lukewarm Spider-Man trilogy to Marc Webb’s also lukewarm Amazing Spider-Man duology.
Sony and Marvel will both try to spin this against the other when the time comes to explain why this is happening, but no statement from either company will be good enough to placate fans. Web-heads are a long-suffering lot, and until Marvel stepped in and said “try doing it like this,” none of us ever expected to receive a truly great Spider-Man movie in our lifetimes. Now that we’ve had two whole actual good movies, to send us back into the pit with Emo Peter’s Dance Sequence is just cruel.
UPDATE: IGN has reported that a source has told them Sony and Disney are still in negotiation. Maybe none of this matters. Maybe it never mattered to begin with. Anyway. Onward with the march of time.