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Fox and Marvel: Together at Last


Written by Nick Campolito

Remember that scene in Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), when Tony Stark is falling out of the closing rift after saving New York City from the nuclear warhead? Right at the end, you remember right? The Avengers had just closed Loki’s portal where the Chitauri had been unleashed onto the city, and Iron Man, making the ultimate sacrifice to save New York and the world, just makes it out of the portal. But look something is wrong, he isn’t flying! At the last minute, Stark is saved by the Hulk and the Avengers save the day from Loki’s plan and all is well in the universe… right?

Not in this universe. Let’s back up one minute. They are in New York City right? Think back to all those comic book heroes we know and love: Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange…  of all of the heroes that live in New York City and were mysteriously missing from the mayhem that day, who were we missing the most? Spider-Man! How awesome would it have been for Spider-Man to make his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by saving Tony Stark at the last minute with some little jab at how he was late because he was delivering pizza or something? However, this was never possible due to restrictions between Sony Pictures Entertainment’s rights to the web-slinger. For years there have been a few studios who have owned different pieces of the Marvel Universe and of course it has made for many different universes for the heroes and villains. We have Sony Pictures Entertainment which solely has the rights to Spider-Man and currently Venom; we have 20th Century Fox which currently has the rights to an array of characters including the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Deadpool, and then there is Marvel Studios which is currently owned by Disney, who has the largest collection of heroes and villains including Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Daredevil, Ant-Man, Blade, Punisher and dozens of others. There are a few other small subsidiary companies that own individual characters, but the reason that we have not seen certain cross-overs is because different companies currently have different rights to these heroes and villains, and sometimes sharing is not caring. But last week, something wonderful happened: Sony Pictures Entertainment and Disney’s Marvel Studios came to an agreement that made not only me, but many other web-loving fans jump for joy. Spider-Man is joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What that means is that Disney now has permission to use Spider-Man in their films. And can I just take a moment to say thank you, thank you so much. This is amazing news that could not have come any sooner. Especially since Spider-Man is supposed to be one of the Avengers!

The excitement behind this deal is huge, but let’s look at it closely in terms of the story and understand what it really means for the future of the MCU. Firstly, Spidey’s debut to the Marvel Cinematic Universe will not be in his own stand alone film, it is rumored that his debut will be most likely in an upcoming Marvel Studio film. My guess is that he will show up in Captain America: Civil War (2016), which is Cap’s third film that will also co-star Iron-Man. I will not go into details about the plot of what Civil War actually is, but the general idea is that there is a bill being pushed through congress that is called the Superhero Registration Act which requires individuals with special abilities to be registered and under official regulation sort of like police officers. This would obviously create conflict between those opposed to the act (Captain America), and those for the act (Iron Man). This creates rifts of conflict, and Spider-Man happens to be a prominent character stuck right in the middle of the story line. This is my best guess for when Spider-Man will make his first debut into the MCU.

Following his debut, Spider-Man will have his own stand-alone that is said to debut on July 28, 2017. Sources say they have scrapped The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (2017), but will still continue moving forward with their villain based films Venom (pre-production) and The Sinister Six (pre-production). The deal also entails that there will be integration of current characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe into future Spider-Man films. We could be seeing Peter Parker and Tony Stark nerding out on screen, or Captain America and Spider-Man fighting crime side by side in the streets of New York. The possibilities are both comforting and exciting as Spider-Man will be where he is meant to be,  cracking wise with the evil doers of New York and hopefully beyond. But enough about the universe itself, what does the deal mean in the technical sense?

Marvel Studios announced that Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal will be involved for the films that follow Spider-Man’s debut into the Disney’s films, as he will receive new stand alone movies that will take place within the MCU. Feige, who has been a producer on nearly every single Marvel film (regardless of studio) since X-Men (2000), (that is 27 films to date, not to mention ones that have not even been released yet) and with Spider-Man since the franchise was launched 13 years ago. Amy Pascal who is also a producer, is known for not only for her involvement in Spider-Man but the recent James Bond films starring Daniel Craig including Casino Royale (2006), as well as American Hustle (2013), Captain Phillips (2013), and Moneyball (2011).This is a powerhouse team, and I have nothing but faith in their ability to produce an awesome story for our beloved wall crawler.

Moving on, let’s look at the deal a little more. Sony will retain creative control over the Spider-Man brand, and is responsible for distribution and financing. Okay, that makes sense; they do own the rights after all; and this deal is not a transfer of rights, more a loan. Marvel Studios did not pay Sony for the rights to put Spider-Man in its films, and Marvel Studios will not receive a cut of the revenue made from box offices, and vice-versa  Sony will not receive a percentage of the revenue Disney makes from films that feature Spider-Man. Which is interesting. Sony is basically gaining free advertisement and exposure to their web-slinger, piggy backing on the success that Disney seems to have with their films. It is actually a really smart move that not only benefits Sony and Disney, but the fans as well.

That’s about all that is known about the deal as it is still in its very early stages of development. But I still have so many questions! Who is writing the new Spider-Man films? How will Spider-Man make his debut in the upcoming Marvel film, and how will his stand alone film play a role in the universe itself? Will Andrew Garfield reprise his role as Spider-Man? I honestly hope so. Garfield actually played the role very nicely, and the character he gave us lined up with Peter Parker’s well. I feel he gets flack for his role due to the circumstance of the role that was written for him, so I hope he is here to stay. How will Spider-Man make his debut in the upcoming Marvel film, and how will his stand alone film play a role in the universe itself? I look forward to see this new and exciting prospect unravel and play out, and am eager to see where our hero will end up.