A week from today we will all find out what it is like to see Spider-Man integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in full-length feature glory. Yay! We will get to see Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures sing “Kumbaya” and creatively put a film out in harmony. But the tug of war is not over, and continues to play out in the press tour about which studio has the right to use Spider-Man. It’s clear – at least by the poster – that Iron Man is in Spider-Man: Homecoming and the MCU characters bounce around each other’s films. We last saw Tom Holland as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May.
So it was probably assumed by Amy Pascal, producer of Spider-Man: Homecoming and former Sony chairperson, that Holland would bounce around in their Spider-Verse films as well and suggest that their films would tie into the MCU if Spider-Man is that bridge. First in Venom, starring Tom Hardy, then in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s (Cloak and Dagger) Black Cat and Silver Sable movie, Silver & Black, right? Two weeks ago Pascal, while seated next to Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige, set the internet ablaze when she told Filmstarts that Spider-Man would be a part of this shared universe:
Feige’s reaction to her answer is priceless, and has since become an internet meme. He looks like he wasn’t prepared to hear that -- notice the sizeable gulp. You can read his face as his mind is racing through Sony and Marvel Studios' agreement to find if Sony could do that. Soon after, Pascal quickly changed her tune and backed off those statements and clarified to Fandango that Venom, Silver Sable and Black Cat exist in the Marvel comic book universe and are “independent, separate franchises.” So yeah, about that partnership …
Looks like the Spider-Man: Homecoming team had an emergency huddle and called an audible on what can be said about who gets dibs on Spider-Man from here on out. Venom and Silver & Black are definitely not a part of the MCU, but this week Feige gave an emphatic response to the idea that Holland’s Spider-Man would be bouncing around the extended Spider-Verse, if you will. It seemed like a reasonable hope on Sony’s part, to help drive the idea that these films exist and are a part of the Spider-lexicon. But at the Homecoming world premiere, Feige let it be known to Variety who was in charge of Spider-Man’s comings and goings and that he has no part in what they are doing with the spinoffs.
Ouch. That’s a dash of salt on the wound, right? He would go on to rub the salt in as he gleefully bragged about being able to use Web Head in Avengers: Infinity War.
Now the next bit of questioning to amuse us will be if Sony is able to use any of the supporting characters from Homecoming in the Spidey spinoffs, whether it be Aunt May, villains like Vulture and his henchmen, Ned, etc. They were planning that Sinister Six movie, featuring all of Spidey's greatest rogues, but without Spider-Man, even that has lost some steam. It will be a tough task for Sony to create a film universe where much of the history and relationships are so intrinsic to Spider-Man, but not have Holland or Spider-Man actually available to them. They could probably talk about him or see him on the Daily Bugle website. Or maybe they bring in other Spider-Men. Hopefully not Miles Morales, because I'd rather see him in the MCU. Well, it's Sony's problem to solve. They must craft the Venom film to stand on its own and from that, clip a piece or two and plant it in Silver & Black to grow new roots. Impossible? No. But having Spidey would have been Miracle-Gro at the least. It’s too bad they can’t put Iron Man on the poster.
Marvel Studios is not offering any shortcuts to Sony. The tug of war lasted for years to get the rights to Spider-Man back to them, and it appears they’re not relinquishing any control to Sony in this partnership. Not that that's a bad thing at all.