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Now that the dust is settling, let’s discuss who won in the Spider-Man rights battle between Marvel and Sony. The fans win, obviously, as we’ll finally get to see a true Spider-Man movie made in the vision of Marvel Studios. And the wall-crawler will share the screen alongside the mighty Avengers in, from what we’re hearing, Captain America: Civil War and the upcoming Infinity Wars saga. But financially speaking, which studio has the upperhand?
The answer, strangely, is both. Variety has a breakdown of the negotiations between Sony and Disney – which was going on for months and finally settled on a level everyone could appreciate. And the results of the deal are… unusual, starting with the fact that Marvel reportedly paid nothing for the rights to use Spider-Man in their upcoming slate of films. That’s right. They got Spidey for free.
According to the trade, the studios worked out a deal that will have each respective studio receiving the profits from the movies they make with Spider-Man. So Marvel doesn’t have to share profits with Sony for Civil War or The Avengers. At the same time, Sony will benefit completely from the profits made by the solo Spider-Man movies, which appear to be being made under the Sony umbrella.
Sony, in the process, rehabs Spider-Man’s image by allowing him to show up in Marvel movies, and earning goodwill from the Spidey fanbase for allowing their beloved character to show up on screen alongside other staples of the Marvel comic universe. In essence, the two studios have agreed on a system that allows them to share Spider-Man, and each use them to their own ends.
The biggest question stemming from this deal is, "How will this work, creatively?" The financial side of it makes so much sense, I’m still surprised the deal went through. Both studios seem to benefit, financially. But will the Spider-Man solo movies pull plots from the MCU? Will they continue to exist separately, or will the actions of the MCU movies dictate what Sony can (and will) do in the standalone Spider-Man movies – the first being penciled in for July 28, 2017?
Variety notes that it is Sony who will work on re-casting the role of Spider-Man, with an intention of finding a teenager. Will Marvel have input on the hire? This line, from Variety’s report, is potentially troubling. "While Marvel’s Kevin Feige is involved with Sony’s new Spider-Man films, he is currently not expected to be creatively involved with the [Venom and Sinister Six] spinoffs, sources say." Why not? If this deal is truly going to work, shouldn’t he be?