During the middle of summer, the Marvel Cinematic Universe temporarily lost an integral part of its canon: the character Spider-man, who had been a part of the MCU since first appearing in “Captain America: Civil War,” released in 2016.
Tom Holland’s character may have disintegrated into dust at the end of 2018's "Avengers: Infinity War," but this was more serious.
As a result of a financial dispute between Sony, who owns the rights, and The Walt Disney Company, Spider-man would no longer have a presence in the latter's MCU films for the foreseeable future.
However, the film world breathed a sigh of relief on Sept. 27 when it was announced in a press release that the split was no longer happening and that there would be a third film in the “Spider-Man: Homecoming” series released on July 16, 2021. Here’s how it all went down:
In mid-August, reports began to surface that Disney, who owns the rights to the MCU, wanted to end their previous agreement with Sony. They planned to increase their financial stake for future MCU films — asking to go in equally at 50%—in order to earn greater profits. The deal, prior to the recent standoff, stated that Marvel would receive five percent of the box office revenues starting immediately upon release of the film and retain all revenues related to Spider-man and associated merchandise.
In other cases, revenues may not be shared until the studio makes a profit.
Rather than agreeing to Disney’s proposal and losing their larger stake, Sony decided to move forward with Spider-man and his associated characters separate from the MCU. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” marked the end of the MCU’s Phase 3.
How this would have affected the future of the MCU remains to be known; however, there are some possibilities.
The possibilities of what could have happened are based on the fact that in a 2016 interview with “The Hollywood Reporter,” Holland disclosed that he had signed a contract for “three Spider-man films and three solo movies.” With that in mind, Holland and his spidey character have completed three Avengers films and two solo films at the time of his departure from the MCU.
What was seeming to be the most unlikely to happen, was that the current rift between Disney and Sony would come to a resolution allowing for Spider-man, and his associated characters, to continue to be a part of the MCU. This was unlikely to happen because of what Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra said during an Entertainment and Technology summit hosted by “Variety.”
“Spider-man was fine before the event movies, did better with the event movies, and now that we have our own universe, he will play off the other characters as well.”
While Vinciquerra had talked about Sony’s own planned Spider-man related TV shows and films with Holland, including a currently in production “Venom” sequel, another key factor against an MCU reunion was the lack of anything Spider-man related in the announcement of MCU’s Phase Four films and TV shows.
With the MCU’s Phase 4 — the announced next five films and eight TV shows — not including any Avengers titles, it wouldn’t be hard to continue without Spider-man as he mainly is featured in the Avengers films. However, if a fourth Avengers film was to be made, Spider-man’s absence would have needed to be explained very well considering the excessive prominence of his role.
Holland then optimistically stated at D23, “Who knows what the future holds? But all I know is that I’m going to continue playing Spider-man and having the time of my life. It’s going to be so fun, however we choose to do it”
In the subsequent weeks, there hadn’t been much of an update and it was looking like there wouldn’t be a Spider-man in future Marvel films.
Then the impasse ended and a deal was made. A source confirmed to Buzzfeed News that Disney will co-finance the third Spider-man film — a first for them — and will receive 25% of the film's profits. In addition, as per the current deal, Holland’s character will be in another Marvel Studios film at a later time.
Marvel fans rejoice.