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I have no insider knowledge. I’m not the guy who knows important people or gets text messages with hot tips. I just have a wild theory based on nothing but business-related hunches, and I feel compelled to share it with the world. I have no idea if it’s original. Probably not. I bet other people have already discussed this in cooler, more sophisticated places than this one or at least in the bowels of some comment section somewhere. I haven’t come across it yet, though; so, I’m going to put it out into the multi-verse. Don’t freak out too hard. It’s almost certainly wrong.
But what if it isn't?
So, here’s my theory. What if Disney and Sony are only pretending to break-up or maybe agreeing to break up for a specific amount of time in order to tease us and build to a giant welcome back movie event in the future? They’re going to go through the motions of a divorce. They’re going let all of us stomp our heels for awhile. Sony will go make Spider-Man 3: Bildungsroman. Maybe we’ll love it. Maybe we won’t, but Sony will keep 100% of whatever it turns out to be, which will probably be more than 75% or whatever percentage they would have gotten had Marvel stayed in the fold. Then they’ll make another one. There will probably be a little less buzz, but it’ll still do well enough.
At the same time, Marvel will try out all these new characters with Kevin Feige’s complete, undivided attention. We’ll meet Shang Chi and (name of Eternals person I don’t know yet) and the new Blade. They’ll eventually get smashed together with more familiar faces like Black Panther and Captain Marvel. Some of these new characters will click with fans. Some of them will not. The ones who work will probably get a team-up movie. It’ll do really well, but none of it will be able to generate the kind of buzz Disney got with Avengers: Endgame.
So, like five or six years from now, Sony will probably be struggling with a Spider-Man franchise that’s running out of steam. Disney will be trying to find a way to recapture the lofty heights of the Avengers days. And then it’ll come. A rumor or maybe a report in one of the trades. Marvel and Sony are in talks to rekindle their partnership. Spider-Man might be coming back! The internet will freak out. Yes. Yes. Yes. We want that, we’ll all scream. And Marvel and Sony will heroically work out their differences and agree to a sensible revenue split that “wasn’t possible” during the initial break-up.
Spider-Man will be back and playing in the MCU for the first time in more than a half decade. Marvel will bill the flick's villain as a threat so big Spider-Man had to come back for it. It'll make 2 billion dollars. That appearance will also remind people why they love Spider-Man, and with Marvel’s help and access to a lot of new characters, Sony will be able to hype Spider-Man Solo Round 5 in really spectacular ways. We’ll all be so jacked up on web shooters that none of us will realize or even care to realize that we just got manipulated and bamboozled.
Doesn’t that sound not only believable but like a shrewd long game? Doesn’t that sound like a supervillain scheme that would actually work? Wouldn’t this brief breakup actually make everyone involved more money in the long run?
This probably isn’t going on. Occam's Razor wants no part of any of the above paragraphs and rightfully so, I think. In all seriousness, this breakup was probably just a pissing contest gone wrong. Most partnership implosions are just pissing contests gone wrong, and it’s also really hard to keep a shady deal secret these days. Hell, we don’t even actually know if this partnership is over. There’s a very real chance that today or tomorrow Sony and Disney will announce a renewed partnership and this entire article and the time I spent writing it and the time you spent reading it will all have been worthless. In fact, that’s probably what’s going to happen; so, yell at me for wasting your time in the comments section.
But what if I'm right?
I want you to just file this conspiracy theory into a corner of your mind. Don't actively remember, but don't forget either. Leave the memory somewhere, and when Spidey returns to the MCU in 5 to 10 years with Avengers-level fanfare, just let yourself question for a second. Let yourself wonder if we all just got duped in one of the cleverest marketing schemes of all-time.