This column contains MASSIVE spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War, and the future of the MCU. Stop reading now if you haven't yet seen the film.
One challenge facing the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that it has movies to sell beyond the movie that's currently in theaters. So, the fact that the studio previously announced the release date for 2019's Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 took a little bit off of the sting of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) fading to dust in the Thanos balancing at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. (Still, that scene choked me up.) Spider-Man can't be dead if Marvel has another sequel in the works. A similar thought happened when T'Challa faded away... good luck killing off the cash cow that is Black Panther, Marvel! However, the timing of the Spider-Man sequel creates a really interesting and unexpected challenge for Sony.
How does the studio market Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 with a currently dead Spider-Man?
The Spider-Man sequel arrives in theaters on July 5, 2019. That's two months after Spider-Man's fate -- and the fate of all of the deceased Marvel heroes -- is revealed in Avengers 4. Marvel Studios will do everything in its power to protect the secrets that it has in store for Avengers 4, a sequel that still doesn't have a subhed because it's too spoilery. But Sony has a sequel to market, even as the studio has to play along with Marvel's rules due to the content sharing deal they have in place.
A Spider-Man sequel arriving in July would start revealing trailers as early as December of 2018, or a Super Bowl spot, at the latest. Let's use Ant-Man and the Wasp as an example -- a Marvel sequel arriving in July of this year. The first footage from that movie dropped on January 30 of the year that it came out. If Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 drops a January trailer before the character's fate is resolved in Avengers 4, what does that do to the tension and dramatic suspense of the pending Avengers sequel?
There are possible explanations to all of this. Sony might already have agreed to hold off on all marketing for Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 until Avengers 4 drops. There will still be two months to market, and while that's extraordinarily strange, it's not like people won't come to the new Spider-Man movie. How much awareness does Sony need to raise?
However, it's ALSO possible that the story for Spider-Man: Homecoming 2, like the stories for Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel, will take place BEFORE Avengers: Infinity War. Let's talk timelines for a moment, because a few things don't make sense. Homecoming happened right after Captain America: Civil War. Peter was a sophomore in high school. Avengers: Infinity War takes place two years after Civil War. Peter's... still in school? We see him on a class trip with Ned in the movie. Is he a senior? If he comes back to life in Avengers 4, could he move right on to graduation in Homecoming 2?
The bigger possibility is that time travel, used to reset the ramifications of Avengers: Infinity War, will reset Peter back to a spot where he can continue his high school career. When we were on the set of Homecoming, Marvel's producers made it clear that they wanted to do a sequel for Spidey for each remaining year of his high school, so he's supposed to be a Junior in the next movie. That doesn't add up to where the character should be in Infinity War -- two years after Civil War. But that's a small question when compared to the larger marketing obstacle now facing the sequel.
What do you guys think? How can Sony market their own Spider-Man sequel, set for July 2019, when the character is stuck in a death limbo until May 2019, storywise? Should Sony hold off on dropping ANY trailers until after Avengers 4? Will Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 be a prequel? Or will time travel make all of this moot? Take the poll below.
How should Sony handle Spider-Man's sequel?