Will Spider-Man Die Before Tom Holland Exits the MCU?

Kill Spider-Man? Wait, didn’t Sony and Marvel agree to extend their deal to keep Spidey in the MCU? Why is this question even being asked?

Yes, kill Spider-Man. And Sony and Marvel did indeed agree to extend their deal after hitting an impasse earlier this year. However, that deal allows for only two movies: one for Spider-Man in an MCU and a third standalone Spider-Man movie.

So, sometime in the not-too-distant future, the deal is going to lapse again. And that’s why Marvel and/or Sony might have to take drastic action regarding Spider-Man. 

The tangled web of Spider-Man rights

Tom Holland attends the premiere of Columbia Pictures' "Spider-Man: Homecoming" at TCL Chinese Theatre.
Tom Holland | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The whole rights issue still confuses people, so let’s lay some groundwork. Sony, not Disney, owns the screen rights to Spider-Man. After faltering with their own Spider-Man movies in recent years, Sony and Marvel/Disney joined forces for a mutually beneficial arrangement.

As per the agreement, Sony would let Disney and Marvel put Spider-Man in their movies, while Sony would get Kevin Feige’s creative control of the character, while still holding the solo distribution rights. So Spidey goes in Captain America: Civil War and the two most recent Avengers movies, and he gets two new standalone movies. 

The problem was, the deal expired after five movies, with Far From Home being the end of the deal. Disney reportedly said they wanted a lot more money, but Sony refused to give away too much of their most valuable property.

For a while, it looked like Spider-Man would be out of the MCU. Then, it was announced that with a push from Tom Holland himself, Sony and Disney renegotiated to extend their deal for at least a little longer. We’ll get a new Spider-Man movie in July of 2021, helping Marvel to put out a record four movies in one year.

But how long can it last this time?

Can Spider-Man be saved by killing Peter Parker?

The Hollywood Reporter pitched four ideas of how to resolve this sticky situation, writing that the goal was “to provide some closure to Spider-Man’s story — and offer an explanation as to why he won’t be quite as omnipresent or important to the MCU going forward.” This assumes, probably wisely, that Sony and Disney won’t be able to work together forever.

The idea of killing Peter Parker might seem extremely foolhardy — except we already sort of saw it happen with last year’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, in which we saw the “original” Peter Parker, voiced by Chris Pine, being killed in action. This allowed Miles Morales to become the new Spider-Man, with the help of some other wall-crawling equivalents from an alternate universe. 

The Hollywood Reporter suggests that all Sony has to do is cast a live-action Miles. That way, Sony could move forward with a live-action franchise and solve a problem with a solution they already had in their pockets. The question is: Would fans accept it?

Peter Parker has ‘died’ before

Fans just might. As we all know, death is a very elastic and elusive thing in the comic book world, and especially the MCU. Heck, Marvel “killed” half of their heroes in Avengers: Infinity War, including Spider-Man, in a moment made all the more dramatic by Holland’s improvised line readings.

Many people probably knew that Spider-Man wasn’t really going to die, but the moment worked because Holland and Robert Downey Jr. sold it so well. So having seen Spider-Man die in the MCU and in Spider-Verse, perhaps fans have been conditioned to the idea.

On the other hand, Holland’s Peter Parker is extremely well-liked, and fans may be hesitant to let him go. If Marvel doesn’t want to take a step that drastic, The Hollywood Reporter suggests they could continue with Holland in live-action via the multiverse concept. Holland has said he’d like to play the character for as long as possible. Perhaps fans will have to turn to him again for hope when the Sony/Marvel reconciliation expires.