Spidey is heading back to a solely Sony Deal. ‘Back to Formula’. Terrible Deal. Terrible Move. Terrible Shame. And yet..it’s complicated..
Ok so it’s broken now. That news and with it, that deal, that promise of Peter Parker in the ‘MCU’. It’s a shock, though not necessarily a surprise. ‘You knew this was coming, Peter’. Let’s have a look at the situation..
What Does it Mean?
Disney and Sony had a power sharing deal on the Spider-Man property. But Sony owned the cinematic rights. So the sharing of ideas and IP was negotiated, a few films at a time. Contract was set to be renewed. Disney wanted a 50/50 style of co-finance and return. Sony said no. So the marriage broke up. But Tom Holland and Jon Watts (star and director) are contracted to Sony for at least one more movie. So there will be more Spidey and weirdly, it might be an identical iteration. But they must ignore the Marvel legacy and vice versa. Which is very odd, frankly. But there you have it.
Why did this Happen?
It’s just show-biz! It happens! Just be glad we had the deal at all and a brief window of a Marvel based Spidey. It was fun. But all good things. Fact is, Sony were emboldened by the success of VENOM and INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE and feel they now have a sustainable universe of their own, within which the Holland Spider-Man can play. Sony also felt, perhaps rightly, that Disney were being greedy and that the Marvel ethos of total control for Kevin Feige (a man who cut his teeth working on the original Raimi trilogy, pre MCU, alongside Avi Arad) was somewhat restrictive. Those are fair points, commercially. And don’t blame Amy Pascal: she gets a needlessly bad press but is lovely and full of great ideas.
And it’s fair to say that something is rotten in the state of Disney, given the questions being raised at present as to how popular and profitable they can remain longer term, despite now owning EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD! Solvency is dependent on HOW they harness the brands they just bought up, from Fox onward. And within that scheme, yes, Spider-Man can be lost as they now have X-Men and Fantastic 4 to name but two. But a fanbase scorned is a deadly thing: creative good will counts and there was mutual benefit in this that warranted perhaps increasing the Disney stake but not by THAT much.
At the same time though, Sony are failing to recognise how much THEY benefited from the Disney / Marvel connection. But for that salvation, we faced a drought; endless spidey-flops and the pretence at a cinematic universe that simply does not cut it. VENOM did well, yes. But there was at least a hint /expectation of some connection to the MCU and they left that ambiguous,. deliberately, in marketing. Many a viewer just thought ‘Marvel’ and assumed a big picture connection. That can only have helped the Box Office and by extension, losing that glimmer of possibility will surely do VENOM 2 and co no major favours?
Just sayin’: BOTH studios failed here, in seeing their own limitations creatively and commercially. They’re both overreaching in ambition and that hubristic clash might just backfire.
Is There Any Coming Back?
Course there is! Look, they may well TRY this model of non MCU involvement and see, in BOTH studios’ cases, that it simply loses them both fan good will and cash, whilst no doubt generating enough heat and curiosity to make a box office dent of some significance.
Deals can be re-brokered, reunions rebuilt, contracts renewed. The trick is to somehow navigate the bits in between, with the MCU managing to fill the web crawler gap and equally, the Sony counterparts injecting enough warmth and heart to compensate for the lack of recognised and beloved supporting characters of the Iron Man ilk.
Fear not: it’s all do-able. If Sony keep Holland and Watts then they keep the fun and the charm of FAR FROM HOME / HOMECOMING, because it was that team that made those movies work, alongside rather than wholly dependent upon, the Marvel IP supporting cast. The VENOM connection may also prop them up a bit and they can even do THAT shared universe crossover with Spideys past (Maguire, Garfield, Holland: together at last?!).
And Marvel have plenty other properties with which to play. So, yes it will be difficult, sure it’s a needless setback that was at once foreseeable and avoidable. But no, NOT the end of the world. This aint Spider-Brexit 😉
Above all? NOBODY can EVER take away the sheer joy of this summer’s billion dollar blockbuster, FAR FROM HOME: A movie I adored in just about every way and will cherish, forever, regardless of who owns the rights to its sequels.
And to those entrusted with sealing the new deals: remember, WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY!