One of the most beloved superheroes of all time, Spider-Man has helped move studios gross billions of dollars in recent years, especially during the character’s latest run in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Gary DeWaard explains why the character is again in the media and what the disagreement over studio ownership means for fans.
A big fan of the latest wave of superhero films, Gary DeWaard tracks the progress of upcoming movies, stays current on casting and crew roles, and keeps readers informed of any emerging obstacles. Recently, DeWaard has followed the subject of Spider-Man closely in the media after the huge success of Far From Home and the subsequent battle over film rights to the character.
“Spider-Man is one of those age-old superhero characters that everyone knew growing up either from comic books, cartoon TV shows, or films like Sam Raimi’s trilogy,” says Gary DeWaard. “The problem is that Spider-Man is clearly a Marvel product since he came from the Marvel comic universe, but his films right have belonged to Sony Studios for decades.”
Spider-Man first appeared in comic form in 1962 as a collaborative effort between Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko, but it took decades for him to appear in film. Sony Studios is responsible for the three Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies (2002-2007) that brought the web-slinger to the big screen for the first time. Each of these movies was a tremendous box office success and earned hundreds of millions of dollars for Sony Studios.
In 2012, Marc Webb tried his hand at a new Spider-Man reboot with a brand-new cast and the title of the Amazing Spider-Man, focusing on less-explored villains and characters. While not as big of a hit as Raimi’s depiction, Webb’s reboot and the subsequent sequel still earned hundreds of millions of dollars for Sony once again.
“Flash forward a few years to Disney’s various mergers and the studio leasing the rights to a series of Spider-Man appearances in their MCU films, and you’ll see where things get iffy,” says Gary DeWaard.
Once Disney purchased Marvel studios, it seemed clear that they would own the film rights to the entire Marvel pantheon of characters. However, because Sony still owned certain film rights whereas Marvel owned only character rights, it required Disney to broker a unique deal to allow him to appear in their latest superhero movies. That deal lasted for five appearances (two solo films, three Avenger appearances) with both production studios collaborating on the work and with Disney earning only a very small percentage of profit from the character.
Recently, ongoing talks to allow Disney more ownership rights to Spider-Man have fallen through, with the character’s film rights returning to Sony though his latest and greatest run has been with Disney. Marvel Studios (a Disney-owned property) is hopeful that they will one day be able to broker a more efficient deal with Sony, but for now, many fans are worried that their beloved Tom Holland depiction of Spidey may disappear from future films.
“Fans should rest easier knowing that both Sony and Marvel want to keep up Spider-Man’s wild success in theaters, meaning they will work hard to satisfy moviegoers,” says Gary DeWaard. “If he won’t appear in the next MCU film, he will almost certainly make an appearance in the sequel to Sony’s recent smash hit Venom, which is focused on Spider-Man’s iconic nemesis anyways.”