Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios have finally struck a deal to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel film universe, beginning with a new feature length film to release July 28, 2017. The rumor had long been swirling around the two entertainment powerhouses after the internal communications were leaked following the Sony Pictures email hack of 2014. The new Spider-Man film will most likely be a reboot, marking the third time Sony will have visited Spider-Man’s origins in less than 20 years. The biggest news in the new deal is that plans are set in motion to integrate Spider-Man into the Marvel film universe, possibly hinting at team-ups with The Avengers or even as a potential player in the upcoming Civil War storyline.
Spider-Man’s film production, distribution and sales have long been under the control of Sony Pictures and have been a relative bright spot in their film catalogue. Despite the studio’s missteps and the subpar performance of The Amazing Spider-Man films at the box office, Spider-Man has been an asset to Sony, giving them a reliable tentpole title during the summer and by far the most popular superhero in their native country of Japan.
Marvel had been trying to find ways of integrating many of their franchises back into their Marvel universe, especially after the studios’ purchase by Disney allowed them to make films with incredible budgets. While the relationship between Marvel and 20th Century Fox has been notoriously bad (Fox controls X-Men and The Fantastic Four), Sony has always been neutral when it came to their use of Spider-Man.
In this arrangement, Sony will still retain all the rights as a studio for distribution and sales, but Marvel will have input in the creative process with the idea of creating the connected experience that fans have adored following the success of the Avengers Initiative. Spider-Man will again be recast, after being previously played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Hopefully the new Peter Parker will be somewhere between the loveable awkwardness of Maguire with the campy wit of Garfield.
To make room for the newest addition to the Marvel universe, several previously announced films will be shifted away from the next Spider-Man’s release date. Thor: Ragnarok was originally penciled in at that exact date but will now shift to November 3, 2017. Thor’s move pushes Black Panther from November 3 up to July 6, 2017. Two more films will get shifted with The Inhumans moving to 2019 and Captain Marvel moving to 2018.
Spider-Man has a very high chance of making an appearance in next year’s Captain America: Civil War as Spider-Man is a crucial player in the comic books, actually being stuck in the middle between Captain America and Iron Man. The timing feels very right for this arrangement after Sony was left stressed out about Spider-Man’s future following the disappointing performance of Amazing Spider-Man, unsteady leadership and decisions whether or not a Avengers’ like spin-off universe for Spidey was possible.
The Sinister Six had been teased by Sony following The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but with the new deal it remains to be seen if those plans will see immediate fruition.
Whatever happens, Spider-Man belongs to be at the forefront of any Marvel movement, especially something as complex as the Civil War. I doubt Fox will ever be willing to follow suit, but it would be great if we could see the X-Men back as well.