Tom Holland: Not the Real Savior Behind Spider-Man’s Return to the MCU?

When Tom Holland’s Spider-Man returned to the MCU, Marvel enthusiasts around the globe issued a simultaneous sigh of relief. The face of Marvel — the boy who typifies the comic book landscape and Marvel’s cinematic past — returns to fight the baddies alongside his fellow Avengers. As of now, Disney has Spidey locked in for two more MCU installments: another Parker film and an appearance in a different hero’s movie (rumor has it he may sprout up in Captain Marvel 2 or The Fantastic Four).

Spider-Man Tom Holland
Spider-Man star Tom Holland | Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

When this news first emerged, the Tom Holland savior story was plastered as the feature article across multiple digital publications. All outlets were reporting that Holland spoke with Disney CEO Bob Iger, and his emotional plea catalyzed further negotiations. Quite a romantic tale, don’t you think? The hero in the movies became the hero in real life. There is only one problem with this narrative: it smells like a fairytale. Maybe, because it is one?

The story: Bob Iger tells Jimmy Kimmel that Holland was the one who convinced him to step up to the plate and figure something out with Sony. According to USA Today, Holland reached out to Disney’s higher-ups for Iger’s contact information and, when he finally got Iger on the phone, begged him to keep Spidey in the MCU. Iger then spoke with Disney, begore finding his way to Sony and landing upon a new deal. Holland saved the day! 

While much of this may be true, while it’s quite likely that Holland’s plea for Spidey’s continued presence in the MCU weighed on Iger, it’s unlikely that such a phonecall could transpire into a complex legal deal. Iger likely already wanted Spidey to stay. The problem: how would this story be pitched to the public?

With Spidey as the savior, Sony and Disney both win: ten points for those marketing the message

Tom Holland may be a great actor; however, he likely does not have the pull to influence major character negotiations and legal battles, as Mikey Sutton once explained in Geekosity: All Things Pop Culture. It’s just a little far-fetched. So, what exactly happened here? 

Well, one could realistically presume that Disney did not want to appear like the big bully with even bigger bucks who forced Sony into bending with the mighty power of the penny (this look doesn’t really vibe with Disney’s brand identity, and carries a mafia-type feel).

One could guess that those over at Sony didn’t want to appear like the weak opposition, bending to all of Disney’s whims and wills. While both likely wanted a negotiation, as such a deal opens up vast opportunities in the MCU and the Sony Spider-Verse, pitching the agreement to the public likely became an image concern. 

What better way to preserve both companies’ images than to avoid designating “good guy” and “bad guy” titles? Instead, make their shared hero the savior.

Make Peter Parker, the boy they both love and the one who brought them together, the hero. Disney didn’t bend Sony and Sony didn’t respond to force; Holland brought them together and they smiled and sang “Kumbaya.” Right? When push comes to shove, the real savior here was not Tom Holland, but those sculpting the message. The real saviors: those marketing the fairytale and allowing both mega-media conglomerates to emerge triumphantly.