Spider-Man swings out of Marvel Cinematic Universe

by Michael Connor

In collaboration with Marvel Studios, Sony’s Columbia Pictures released their second stand-alone Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, in July. Far From Home became the first Spider-Man film to gross over a billion dollars and received widespread critical acclaim. 

It was assumed by fans that with the success of Spider Man’s implantation in the MCU, Marvel Studios and Sony would continue their partnership in sharing the rights to the cinematic Spider-Man. On Tuesday, Aug. 20, this collaboration that so many fans embraced ended. It was announced that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man would no longer be a part of the MCU. Countless fans who were crushed by this surprising news, commented on social media and the topic became a common trend across social media platforms. 

Even Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye in the MCU franchise, pleaded on his Instagram to return Spider-Man to Marvel Studios. “Hey @sonypictures we want Spider-Man back to @therealstanlee and @marvel please, thank you #congrats #spidermanrocks #please,” said Renner.    

It’s not surprising that some UT students also found the news difficult to accept. “Very bummed about Spider-Man, leaving the MCU, given that he’s my favorite superhero and Marvel literally just killed off Iron Man,” said Lex Smith, senior accounting major.

“The Disney/Sony split is very unfortunate and should have had more care in the decision and deal making process to keep such a beloved character in a franchise where he’s thriving,” says Carissa Gross, junior musical theater major.

Some students recognized the potential greed behind the split. “It seems to me it was Disney going for a power grab at the negotiation table. Sony owns the movie rights but haven’t made a Spider-Man movie as good or profitable as the Marvel produced ones. It seems Sony decided they didn’t want to deal with a greedy Disney and pulled out of the MCU,” said Michael Carastro, junior criminology major. 

Since 1999, Sony has owned the film rights to Spider-Man and has launched numerous Spider-Man related projects. Marvel Studios launched the MCU with 2008’s Iron Man allowing many Marvel characters to live and share a universe together. 

As successful as the MCU was becoming, one main ingredient was missing in this large undertaking. That was of course one of Marvel’s most famous and beloved characters, Spider-Man. While Disney owned Marvel and its properties, it was forced to respect previous contracts with other film studios. In 2015, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was finally able to work out a deal with Sony to form a partnership and share Spider-Man. 

This collaboration allowed Spider-Man to appear in Marvel Studios films distributed by Disney such as the Avengers franchise and Captain America: Civil War as well as Sony distributed MCU standalone films co-produced by Marvel Studios’ Feige. The partnership, for both studios, was financially beneficial and for fans around the world, a dream come true. It was only fitting that the first stand-alone film Marvel Studios and Sony made together was called Spider-Man: Homecoming. 

What was not considered was that both companies saw the financial success of Spider-Man’s implementation in the MCU and became greedy. Disney desired a 50/50 percent stake in the production/financing and profits of future Sony distributed MCU stand-alone Spider-Man films, while Sony wanted to maintain the original agreement of Disney earning 5% first day gross and merchandising profits for stand-alone films. Both companies had their minds made up and refused to compromise. 

 Of course, there is a rumor mill among social media platforms that Disney and Sony will try to work out another deal, but that as of now is unlikely. “Listen, it’s been a crazy week, but thank you from the bottom of my heart and I love you 3000,” said Tom Holland.“But all I know is that I’m going to continue playing Spider-Man and having the time of my life…The future for Spider-Man will be different, but it will be equally as awesome and amazing, and we’ll find new ways to make it even cooler.” 

While Holland is optimistic for the future, for many, Spider-Man’s absence from the MCU is the end of an era. The split between Marvel Studios and Sony was a nightmare fans never thought would actually happen. Bluntly, 2019 really was an endgame for the current MCU and unfortunately Spider-Man is very much far from home. 

Michael Connor can be reached at michael.connor@spartans.ut.edu

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