Bringing Spider-Man to the big screen has been quite an adventure, from James Cameron’s tumultuous attempt during the 1990s before the superhero boom, to Sam Raimi’s trilogy, to the rebooted Amazing Spider-Man films. Thanks to a mutually beneficial deal between Sony (who owns the film rights to the webslinger) and Marvel Studios, the latter was able to “rent” the character to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). We got to see him in the MCU for the first time in Captain America: Civil War, and, even after five films over 12 years, this iteration was a breath of fresh air. The next time we will see him will be in the character’s sixth solo film Spider-Man: Homecoming due to hit theaters this July, and anticipation his high.
However, the announcement that Sony would be producing a Venom spin-off film due to hit theaters next fall, that will not be a part of the MCU, but instead as a part of it’s own “Villains Shared Universe,” started to make fans worry that, now that Spider-Man is riding high, Sony is going to take their boy back and his future with the MCU may be finished before the honeymoon is over. Let’s just relax with that, OK?
First off, let’s state the obvious: Spider-Man in the MCU has a contract. Marvel Studios, is not a stupid corporation, and will not invest time, money and energy into the character, just for him to go back to Sony after they helped breathe life back into the character. He will appear in Avengers: Infinity War (and maybe the untitled sequel Avengers 4), and a Homecoming sequel that is stated to be released in 2019. The official contract is for Spidey to appear in three MCU films, and three Spider-Man solo films. With him appearing in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, he’s already done two MCU films. With Spider-Man: Homecoming and its sequel, he will have been in two solo Spidey movies. That leaves him to have one additional Spider-Man movie and one additional MCU film left on the contract. Of course, Sony and Marvel will have made a billion dollars off of the character by the time it’s all said and done, don’t think they won’t work out another deal to keep revenue flowing. So, from a business perspective, we can all cool our jets as he’s here to stay.
From a character and story perspective, the MCU is a bigger sandlot to play in. Although Sony retains the rights to many Spider-Man villains and has already used some of the classics like Green Goblin, Sandman, and will soon use Venom (and possibly the Sinister Six), partnering with Marvel Studios give Spidey a whole lot more to do. In addition to using Spider-Man villains, he can interact with pretty much anyone in the MCU. Vincent D’Onofrio wants Daredevil’s Kingpin to be one of his antagonists for example. Being in the MCU opens up for him to have more (new and non-Spider-Man) rogues, and not just those we have seen in past films. Speaking of which, the MCU will not be using any of Spider-Man’s previous villains in their films, so we have a lot to look forward to for his antagonists. That also means that he can team up with other MCU heroes, like we will see him and Tony Stark teaming up in Homecoming.
Also from a story perspective, the MCU got their casting right. No disrespect to Andrew Garfield or Tobey Maguire, but Tom Holland’s Spider-Man successfully captures the essence of the character in the best way. Tobey was a great Spider-Man, Garfield was a great Peter Parker, but Holland is a great Spider-Man and a great Peter Parker. Also, making the decision to cast an actual high schooler (OK, he’s 20, but he’s the youngest actor yet) to play a high schooler makes it feel believable. Just based on the few minutes we saw him in Captain America: Civil War and in the trailers for Spider-Man: Homecoming, he captures the nerdy awkwardness that Peter Parker has from the comics. Sure, he’s a superhero who can do amazing things, but he still is a broke, struggling student who’s worried about homework and mustering up the courage to talk to girls, something that did not translate well in the other iterations of Spider-Man/Peter Parker.
Although the idea of having a separate universe Sony wholly owns, featuring Spider-Man characters without Spider-Man in the movies might not make sense on paper, that doesn’t mean that Sony won’t do it and be successful in their own way. For the time being, Spider-Man’s in the right place in the MCU. Taking him back after so much time, energy, and money has been put into getting the character right and allow him to have a bigger field to play in. It makes no sense to stitch it up, not right now when they are having the most success with the character in this perfect storm of studios correctly sharing a character. Spidey’s here to stay in the MCU!
Spider-Man: Homecoming will be released in theaters on July 7, 2017.