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Making sense of the Sony/MCU deal

When the story of Spiderman’s departure first broke, I cared a lot more than I do now.

To bring you up to speed with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) operations, Marvel created Spiderman in the comic books. They sold the character’s film rights to Sony in the 1990s when they fell on hard times. Sony has tried to keep the Spiderman franchise growing, making five independent films so far. The first two are some of the most popular comic book adaptations in Hollywood history.

However, while the last three Sony-made Spiderman films turned a profit at the Box Office, critics felt the films were bloated, incoherent and unnecessary. Moviegoers were happy to learn in 2015 that Sony and Marvel were finally talking. Some people actually thought Sony would ultimately sell the rights to Spiderman back to Marvel.

But that was a foolish hope. Spiderman is still one of the most popular superheroes and has plenty of financial value. Sony had no reason to relinquish their hold over his rights. Instead, they made a deal with Marvel.

The Disney wing would reboot Spiderman for new audiences. Sony would permit the character to appear in the MCU. Sony would also make their own Spiderman movies in the hope that the projects would benefit from the goodwill MCU enjoys.

The deal worked out well. Sony financed the first two Tom Holland movies and got to keep most of the profits. Disney, for their part, still held the toy rights. So, every successful Spiderman movie actually profited Disney’s toy division immensely.

Holland’s appearance in Civil War was lauded and his relationship with Tony Stark went on to become the backbone of the most successful MCU movies (Infinity War and Endgame).

On Sony’s side, Spiderman: Homecoming received overwhelmingly positive reviews. The movie’s success compelled Sony to take a chance on Venom and Into the Spiderverse, two projects that have succeeded in reinvigorating Spiderman.

So, what happened? Well, the third phase of the MCU ended and for reasons no one can fathom, the Marvel/Sony deal has also ended. Sony has officially pulled Spiderman from the MCU. He will never appear in another Marvel Cinematic Universe movie again. Now, when it comes to Spiderman movies, Sony has a shoddy track record. Yes, Homecoming and Far From Home were hits. But guess what? They were produced by Marvel.

Marvel only agreed to bring Spiderman into the MCU if Kevin Feige directly produced Sony’s non-Avengers Spiderman movies. Well, the MCU won’t produce any more Spiderman movies from this point onward.

Sony is on its own once more, facing the arduous task of making Spiderman movies; a task it has proven ill-equipped to execute on three separate occasions. The new development was earth-shattering when it first happened, but now I feel like we – Marvel fans with an unhealthy attachment to these characters – will all be fine.


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