Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you’ve heard the big news. Spider-Man has officially joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe! This is a monumental turn of events, one that has been rumored for months but seemed too far-fetched for it to ever actually happen. Now that it is ACTUALLY happening, we at Pegboards feel obligated to react to this stunning announcement and try to make sense of what’s really going on. After all, nothing like this has ever been done before and there is no guarantee that it will even work out the way that we hope it will.
But that’s beyond the point. All that matters is that Spider-Man is finally back where he belongs.
For Sony, this move was a no-brainer. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a big disappointment at the box office and the trajectory of that franchise was heading perilously downward. Though Kevin and I personally enjoyed that movie, a lot of people didn’t and it was panned by critics. In a year where Marvel properties such as Captain America, X-Men and even the Guardians of the Galaxy enjoyed unbounded success during the summer movie season, Sony’s failure to get its biggest cash cow back on track had to sting pretty badly. The aftermath of that letdown wasn’t much prettier, as Andrew Garfield basically threw the film’s producers under the bus for meddling where they shouldn’t be meddling and then a couple of spin-off films, such as The Sinister Six and a Venom movie, were announced to the collective yawn of the entire world. It was clear that Sony had no clue what they were doing and needed help in order to salvage all of this wreckage.
Enter Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios, who offered to jump start the Spider-Man film franchise in return for allowing Marvel’s prodigal son to return home at last. Everyone’s favorite web-slinger will first appear in an upcoming MCU film (most likely
Captain America: Civil War), before starting anew once more in another solo movie in 2017 that will be co-produced by Sony and Marvel Studios. Much-maligned producer Avi Arad is being jettisoned and replaced by Amy Pascal, who is stepping down from her higher-up position at Sony in order to work on this new direction for Spider-Man with Kevin Feige. Now here’s where things get interesting: Sony supposedly will maintain creative control over the Spidey franchise, including what the solo films will be about, which MCU characters may be crossing over and most importantly, who will be replacing Garfield as the titular character. On the flip side, Marvel Studios didn’t have to pay a dime to incorporate Spider-Man into its universe, which means that it won’t make any money off of the solo outings but will be able to add the character to Civil War and undoubtedly future Avengers installments. You with me so far?
It’s an unparalleled arrangement between two massive Hollywood studios, and it basically broke the internet when it was announced the other night. Feige and Marvel were so eager to take advantage of this opportunity that they even rearranged a large portion of their “Phase Three” lineup in order to make room for that new Spider-Man film. It’s a best of both worlds kind of deal, as Sony gets to hold onto one of its most important assets and Marvel gets to strengthen its already wildly successful film universe. For the fans, it’s a win-win. We get to see a superhero that most of us have idolized since childhood finally share the screen with characters we have grown to love over the past seven years. I mean, really, who doesn’t want to see Spidey interact with Robert Downey Jr.’s ‘Iron Man’ or swing into action with Captain America, Hulk, Thor and all of those other heroes? That goes without saying.
The timing of this deal also couldn’t be any better for Marvel, as any comic book fan will tell you that Spider-Man plays a pretty significant role in the Civil War storyline. SPOILER ALERT. Peter Parker willingly unmasking and revealing his identity for all the world to see as a show of support for the Superhuman Registration Act is one of the most memorable moments in the character’s history. I’m not saying that’s what will happen in the movie, but it just didn’t feel quite right knowing that Spider-Man would be absent for the divide between Iron Man and Cap. It just makes too much sense for Spidey not to be included in Civil War now and that could quite possibly create even more buzz for that film than for the upcoming The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
No doubt, the possibilities of Spider-Man joining the MCU are endless. It should be a thrill to watch your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man throw down with The Avengers, but we haven’t even gotten into the idea of all the characters that Spidey could be bringing with him: Venom, Carnage, the Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Kraven, Black Cat and on and on it goes. Marvel is undoubtedly salivating over the fact that the rogues gallery for its cinematic universe just grew exponentially, and it will be really exciting to see all of the crossovers that could take place. Some of these characters haven’t shown up in a film yet and some were butchered by whoever wrote the villains in the last three Spider-Man movies, but you have to believe that Marvel will help Sony get them right. Hell, I would be down for movies featuring the Sinister Six and Venom IF they were well done and made sense. They are far more appealing villains than most of the ones we’ve seen in the MCU to this point, and that’s another big reason to get excited about all this.
One potential problem with this deal is that even though Marvel can lease Spider-Man from Sony whenever it wants, it still doesn’t own the film rights to the character. Sony is still very much involved and as we’ve seen, it doesn’t exactly have the greatest track record for this sort of thing. Thankfully, Arad is out of the picture, but this entire arrangement is riding on the idea that these two studios can establish a healthy and productive working relationship. What happens if that relationship begins to fracture over time? What if Feige grows weary of the way Sony wants to utilize all of the MCU characters that suddenly became available? This whole scenario is unprecedented and there’s just no way to know for sure if it will be a godsend or a disaster. I seriously doubt that Feige would have agreed to a deal of this magnitude unless he was confident that it would only enhance his studio’s prospects, but this is Spider-Man we are talking about. It’s a bit more important than reacquiring Daredevil or Ghost Rider, so maybe the deal wasn’t completely to his liking but the risk was worth the potential reward. We’ll just have to see.
And I’m a little bummed that Garfield doesn’t get to come along for the ride. For all of the differing opinions on The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2, I think it’s basically unanimous that he was a great Spider-Man. He would’ve done well in the MCU and it’s just a shame that he didn’t get an opportunity to star in films that made better use of his awesome portrayal. Then again, the dude is dating Emma Stone, so I have a feeling he’ll be okay.
Reservations aside, as a fan I am stoked beyond belief that something like this finally came to fruition. I can’t wait to see what the future will bring for Spider-Man and if nothing else, it’s nice to know that a superhero that meant so much to me as a kid will once again be receiving the big screen treatment that he deserves.