The Russo Brothers Reveal Why They Aren’t Surprised Spider-Man Left the MCU

While some fans are still smarting over the unexpected departure of Spider-Man from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), there are two people who aren’t surprised that the Sony/Disney deal fell through: directors Joe and Anthony Russo. 

The Russo brothers didn’t direct the two recent Spider-Man movies Homecoming and Far From Home, helmed by Jon Watts, but they did direct Captain America: Civil War, which brought the web-slinger into the MCU to considerable acclaim. So they’re quite familiar with how hard it had been to bring Spider-Man into the fold. 

Spider-Man on screen before the MCU

Tom Holland
Tom Holland | Rich Fury/Getty Images

Sony owns the movie rights to Spider-Man and his associated characters. At first, their Spider-Man movies of the 2000s, starring Tobey Maguire and directed by Sam Raimi, were wildly popular. Spider-Man and especially Spider-Man 2 were very well regarded. Spider-Man 3 was a great financial success but many agreed it was uneven and overstuffed, with the emo Peter Parker scene being widely mocked. 

Sony decided to reboot with the Amazing Spider-Man movies directed by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield. Those films were, again, financially successful, but there were considered decent at best and embarrassing at worst. Plans for a Sinister Six villains movie were put on ice. 

By this time, the MCU was producing one well-liked hit after another, even with heroes that were not A-list names. Sony and Disney worked out an agreement where Spider-Man could appear in Disney/Marvel movies, and Sony could take the lead on the Spider-Man stand-alone movies under the guidance of Marvel wunderkind Kevin Feige. And that’s where the Russos came in.

The Russos are coping with the split

To hear the Russos tell it, getting Sony to agree to port Spider-Man over to the MCU in the first place was like pulling teeth. Ultimately, they were disappointed, but not surprised, when Sony opted not to extend the five-picture deal with Disney. Sony thought Disney asked for too much money. 

Joe Russo explained to The Daily Beast that since it was so hard to get Spider-Man in the first place, it wasn’t a big shock to lose him in the end. 

He said: “Kevin [Feige] went through a lot. There were a lot of ups and downs, and he kept walking into our office and we’d go, ‘Look, we’ve got to do it with [Sony],’ and he’d go, ‘OK, I’ll figure it out,’ and walk back into his. He was looking for the way out. He wanted to open that door and have us go, ‘We figured it out! We don’t need Spider-Man!’ because it’s a lot of work to get two major corporations to play nice with each other, and the fact that it happened at all, we should all be dancing and celebrating that we got that little bit of time.” 

Feige expressed similar sentiments at D23. He was disappointed not to continue with Spider-Man, but he took a glass half full approach, saying it was better to have had and lost him than never to have had him at all.

Where does Spider-Man go from here?

The next Spider-Man movie has not been announced, but Tom Holland plans to continue playing him. He said at D23: “It’s going to be so fun, however we choose to do it. The future for Spider-Man will be different, but it will be equally as awesome and amazing, and we’ll find new ways to make it even cooler.”

Meanwhile, Sony will release a sequel to Venom next year, which did better than many people expected. Tom Hardy is back on board with Andy Serkis directing. A sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is in development, with the original winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. 

Fans would do well to remember that Feige was not involved in either of those projects, so he is not the only person capable of making a successful Spider-Man movie. Perhaps Phil Lord and Christopher  Miller, who produced Spider-Verse, could be persuaded to make a live-action Spider-Man movie. Spider-Man may be down for now, but he’s far from out.