Why Tom Holland’s Spider-Man Might Not Be Dead in the MCU After All

Fans felt a great disturbance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe this week when media outlets reported that Sony and Disney had reached an impasse on their arrangement with Spider-Man, and going forward, Spider-Man would no longer be a part of the MCU. 

Fans cried out in terror, bitterly complaining that only Disney has done right by Spider-Man, with the hashtag #boycottSony going around on social media. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. This may not be a done deal yet. 

Tom Holland
Tom Holland | Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

How did Sony and Disney get together?

Disney owns Marvel Studios, and some people think that means Disney owns all the characters, but this isn’t the case.

Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man and his associated characters such as Venom and the Green Goblin. Sony made the mostly well-regarded Spider-Man movies of the 2000s directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire. 

After that, Sony started to struggle with the Spider-Man movies, with Spider-Man 3 being a financial success but widely regarded as an artistic disappointment. Then came the reboot movies with Andrew Garfield directed by Marc Webb, and those suffered more or less the same fate.

By this time, the MCU had hit the ground running, so to bolster their most valuable property, Sony would let Disney put Spider-Man in their Avengers-related movies, starting with Captain America: Civil War

Sony in turn, would still have control over the live action Spider-Man movies, although Marvel President Kevin Feige would be the guiding hand on Homecoming and Far From Home, both of which were huge hits and were well-liked. 

Why did the deal fall apart?

According to Variety and other Hollywood trade papers, the Sony/Disney deal would expire after Far From Home, and it was time to renegotiate. With Homecoming and Far From Home, Disney got 5 percent of the box office gross, plus the merchandising revenue, and Sony got the rest.

Disney wanted to up their stake to 50 percent, which would effectively give control to them. Sony said no way. Cue the uproar.

Generally speaking, fans said, “Ack! Only Disney and Kevin Feige are capable of making successful Spider-Man movies! They need to be involved or the character is ruined again!”

That doesn’t take into account Sony made Venom and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse without any input from Disney. Both of those were hits, with Spider-Verse winning an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

Sony isn’t about to give all that up. Kevin Feige or no Kevin Feige, no reasonable studio would want to give up so much control of their most valuable property.

There’s still hope for Spidey in the MCU

As Forbes points out, the story isn’t necessarily over, writing that Sony and Disney  “know that public opinion matters too. Neither studio wants to be known as the ones who ruined Spidey after fans finally got the in-universe version they’ve wanted for decades.”

This impasse could well be a negotiating tactic to get Disney to come back to the table with a more acceptable offer for Sony. 

A Tumblr user named Waluigi notes, “Also, they’re probably still negotiating, so Sony might end up taking a deal, especially since idiots everywhere are berating (Sony) for not letting Disney be greedy (which is what Disney wants).”

If worse comes to worse and the partnership does end here, it’s not the end of the world. Disney has more than proven it can make good movies without Spider-Man, and Sony seems to be on its own good track with Venom and Spider-Verse.

That said, Forbes notes, “Both sides are better together. Spider-Man is an integral part of Marvel’s story universe and brand identity. He can survive as a standalone property given the right creative team, but his five-film run in the MCU showed that he also benefits from – and complements – a bigger pantheon.”