Spider-Man is not going to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) anymore. It has been reported that Disney, which owns Marvel, and Sony, which owns Spider-Man, could not agree on how to split the profit.
As of now, Sony has been getting 95% of the original gross, while Disney gets 5%. Apparently, Disney wanted a 50-50 agreement and Sony said no. Spider-Man has been a part of 5 films in the MCU, which has altogether gone on to make a whopping $22 billion.
The fallout, while quite dramatic, should not come as much of a surprise. The ownership of Spider-Man has been a very complicated affair over the years.
The problem can be traced back to 1998, when Marvel was just recovering from the bankruptcy it had filed for two years previously. To float the boat, Marvel had an idea: sell their superheroes. Sony was a potential buyer, but a choosy one: they wanted only the massive successful Spider-Man. The Avengers and their ilk were not hot property then, and Sony let them slip through their fingers.
Flash forward ten years, and Kevin Feige enters the scene. He picks up Marvel’s poor, discarded superheroes and uses them to make the most successful film franchise of all time. Feige even negotiated an unprecedented deal between Disney and Sony in 2015, when he got Spider-Man back to the Marvel universe.
He created ‘Avengers: Endgame’, the most successful film of all time, as well as ‘Spider-man: Far from home’, which has replaced 2015’s James Bond film ‘Skyfall’ as the highest-grossing Sony film of all time. This makes losing Feige just as painful to Sony as losing Spider-Man is to Marvel.
Next Spider-Man movie?
Although the chances of seeing Spider-Man among the Avengers again is thin, Sony has one under-utilised storyline that holds promise. In 2018, even as Peter Parker was part of the Avengers, Sony produced a Spidey movie away from the MCU, called ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’.
One of the most acclaimed superhero movies of all time, ‘Spider-Verse’ introduced a new Spider-Man, Miles Morales. On Tuesday and Wednesday, after the news of the Disney-Sony split went viral, “Miles Morales” was seen trending on Twitter.
What can Marvel do now?
Since the deal has been broken off, Marvel will have to run their future storylines around the absence of Spider-Man. That will be a massive void to fill as Spider-Man was becoming increasingly central to the MCU.
What can Sony do now?
When Spider-Man was part of the Marvel universe, there was far more ground to play on. Many fans feel that the figure of Peter Parker has been done to death. Memes proliferated where fans groaned about another origin story for the superhero; they don’t want to see Uncle Ben die again.