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The MCU has only just begun its Phase 4 journey in a post-Avengers: Endgame world, and already there's one big problem to address. By now, many are well aware of the breakdown in negotiations between Marvel and Sony about financing future Spider-Man solo films, and talks devolved to the point where the agreement to share the webslinger is off at the moment.
It's a devastating blow for both studios, as well as Tom Holland, Zendaya, and just about every Marvel fan who's been thrilled about this version of Spider-Man since his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War. It's worth mentioning that cooler heads may prevail, and that Marvel and Sony may eventually negotiate Spider-Man back into the MCU. At the moment though, Sony will have to go into its next Spider-Man film using only the characters it holds the rights to, without mentioning the MCU in any way.
That means no Nick Fury, no mentions of Tony Stark, and certainly no other memorable Marvel heroes. So, how the hell can Sony hope to tell the next chapter of its cinematic Spider-Man? Reboots (unfortunately) are always an option, although there is a way that Tom Holland's Spider-Man can remain tied to Marvel's MCU, even if he isn't specifically seen again in MCU projects. It'll just take a bit of creativity on Sony's part, which it should be able to pull off with or without Kevin Feige.
How Sony Could Distance Tom Holland's Spider-Man From The MCU While Still Remaining Connected
Let's take a minute to revisit the ending of Spider-Man: Far From Home, spoilers included. In the final minutes of the movie, we see that Nick Fury and Maria Hill were actually Skrulls in disguise named Talos and Soren, that the real Nick Fury is in outer space, and that Mysterio leaked Peter's identity as Spider-Man to media mogul J. Jonah Jameson as a contingency plan following his failed revenge.
Peter's oblivious to the whole Skrull thing, but even if he wasn't, his immediate future tracks with the hero stepping away from the MCU for a hot minute. After all, Peter's been exposed as Spider-Man, and will have to go underground to figure out a way to protect all his loved ones from being harmed by Spidey's most vengeful villains.. Long story short, he should be way too busy to pal around with any heroes for a while.
Now, if Tom Holland's Spider-Man was still a part of the MCU, this situation would've been easier. Tony Stark left Peter a lot of resources to ensure he's well off and capable of handling even the biggest threats in his life, so even having his identity exposed wouldn't have been as big of a deal as it may have seemed at the time. Peter could just own it like Tony did, and maybe get some of that swagger and confidence Stark had that he completely lacks now.
So, how does Sony fix this? Well, let's not forget that Peter was also branded as the orchestrator of the Elemental attacks by Mysterio and J. Jonah Jameson. Getting charged with a felony will typically freeze one's assets pretty quick, especially if the accused isn't going to simply turn himself in to post bond and face trial at a later date. Something tells us the third Spider-Man film wasn't going to be an intense courtroom drama, so I'm assuming Spidey will try and exonerate himself.
Let's also remember that Sony has established the expansive Spider-verse within its own brand, so the studio could leave Holland's Spider-Man in a holding pattern while it jumps over to feature a Spider-Man on another Earth. It seems like a crazy direction to head in, and it's probably ill-advised given the world really wants a direct follow up to Spider-Man: Far From Home, but crazier things have happened.
Both scenarios seem like very doable plans for Sony, especially when it has such a deep lineup of Spider-Man characters to help spice up any future films. With that said, it's all down to whether Sony wants to maintain that illusion, and whether or not Marvel Studios will try to burn it down within its own MCU. For example, what if Marvel chose to write out Spider-Man with some tongue-in-cheek manner – "That web-head in New York," for instance – without directly referencing or showing the character? Kind of hard and pointless to maintain the illusion at that point.
Why Marvel Would Want To Maintain The Illusion Of Spider-Man In The MCU
Disney has a lot of popular MCU heroes it can fall back on, but let's be honest, Spider-Man is not only one of the franchise's biggest characters, but also Marvel's most popular character in general. It's possible, although not a sure thing, that Marvel had more plans for Peter coming up in the MCU, especially considering how meticulously Marvel Studios plots out its phases in advance.
We really have no idea what plans the MCU had for Tom Holland's Spider-Man, but imagine what scripts would be affected if he was already slated to appear in one of the upcoming titles Marvel announced so far? Things would need to be re-written and plans would need to be changed. It all could turn into a pretty expensive endeavor overall for Disney, jeopardizing any plans it may have started with Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Could Disney absorb the loss of Spider-man fix it? Of course it can. The company has money for days, and works with some of the brightest minds in Hollywood. With that said, one would think Disney execs would much rather work out a deal with Sony in order to keep one of the MCU's only remaining New York-based heroes active within its roster.
Again, this is all speculative, and one would think if Marvel was willing to walk away without a deal then it may not have been planning too much for Tom Holland's Spider-Man going forward. That's a real shame considering he's one of the youngest talents in the bunch that could've served as a common link between the old and new Marvel generations a decade from now. That assumes the MCU itself will last until 2030, which feels like a safe bet.
We can only speak for now, and from a viewer's perspective, but Marvel gave Peter Parker a pretty sizable role in Avengers: Infinity War, and seemed to establish him as the Stark heir in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Thus, it's hard to believe a character like that is actually so expendable in the MCU, which may be why it's being stressed that the negotiations between Sony and Marvel are ongoing. Both sides want a resolution, but for now, this holding pattern might take a few years before Peter gets looped back in.