It was a somewhat big surprise of the news that Sony and Marvel had come to an agreement on the sharing of Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I say somewhat of a surprise due to the leaked e-mails about the possibility of it happening. While I wont rehash the story, instead I want to give my views on what may come to the future of Spider-Man projects in the future.
First off Marvel did not get Spider-Man back from Sony. Sony still controls the rights to the Spider-Man universe and basically made a no money changed hands agreement with Marvel. There are a few things at work with this agreement. This gives Sony a more long-term approach to the Spider-Man license meaning that the ticking clock of the rights have probably drastically slowed down and they wont have to keep cranking out Spider-Man franchise films to retain the rights. Also Sony will retain the final creative control and continue to finance, distribute and own the new movies. The one probable big change is all of the spin-off films that Sony had been planning. Most notably the Secret Six project that is in development is probably going to not be made. The main reason that the Sony made the deal is because they do not have merchandise for Spider-Man. If they had this deal would have never been made because even with the diminishing returns on the films, merchandising can more than make up for poor box office performances. There has also been talks that Disney might buy Sony but I highly doubt that because Disney is interested in IP acquisition not another studio. There is not a lot of IP’s that Sony pictures owns that Disney could milk.
The benefits for Sony are that they will get a shot in the arm for the franchise that has been fading as a cash cow. With Spider-Man in other Marvel films it could renew interest in the franchise. At this point it has been stated that Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield are both out of any future Spider-Man films. A lot of people are under the impression that Marvel will be in control of the Spider-Man franchise and that is not true considering that Sony has final say period. The benefit for Marvel is that when they plan more universe centric films Spider-Man can now join in on them. While it will remain to be seen what direction that the Spider-Man films will take it is for sure that they are looking for a younger Spider-Man possibly more of a not a well-known actor like with Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth. This would be for two reasons first they will want to lock an actor in for at least 3 Spider-Man films and to appear in other Marvel films. The other reason is that they can get them a lot cheaper than a more established actor. People still forget that Robert Downey Jr. career was washed up before he did Iron Man and he got paid less than Terrence Howard but wisely took points on the gross on the first and future films. That is why he made over $50 million dollars from the Avengers release. Marvel will never let this happen again.
The bigger question to the whole story is while the reboot with The Amazing Spider-Man series was not well received by having Marvel involvement in future Spider-Man films make them better or just more money. While Marvel films have made a lot of money the quality of them in my opinion has not been nearly good. I think that Marvel has gotten very lucky so far I still think that the first Iron Man and the first Captain America are the best of the bunch. While I did think that Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the better ones recently, I felt that the last act of the film was disappointing compared to the rest of the film. Honestly the two Thor films were not that good and the last Captain America film was poorly written. While the Avengers was a fun ride it is a lot better than I thought it was going to be, it just ends up being the typical summer tent pole of crap blowing up on-screen and really loud and dumb. While the Spider-Man films have had their ups and downs there is no doubt that Spider-Man 2 is one of the better superheroes films that has been made and the reason for that was that it had a really strong script and strong characters were the key. While Kevin Feige: “Marvel’s involvement will hopefully deliver the creative continuity and authenticity that fans demand from the MCU. I am equally excited for the opportunity to have Spider-Man appear in the MCU, something which both we at Marvel, and fans alike, have been looking forward to for years.” To me the thing that scares me about this statement is that Marvel is more concerned about continuity than creativity.
We have seen where the Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity has trumped creativity. Jon Favreau left the Iron Man series after the rush to get the second film out and the script was terrible. Kenneth Branagh did not come back for Thor 2 because of the clashes that he had with Marvel on the first film. Joe Johnston mysteriously didn’t come back to direct the second Captain America movie. The well-known dispute with Edgar Wright dropping out of the Ant-Man film over creative differences has been well documented. The only reason that Shane Black came on board Iron Man 3 was the Downey had control over how the film was handled and Marvel gave them a rare somewhat hands off of the film.
While I hope that the new direction for the Spider-Man films will be good I have a bit of hesitation to them. While I did like Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man the second film was riddled with many problems but I will give it when it worked it worked really well and that was when the film had character development and not about future franchises or blowing crap up. Will the next Spider-Man film be successful and good or just successful? As the magic eight ball would say is that we cannot predict now.