In a lot of ways, the Walt Disney Company has been having a banner year (Marvel fans catch that? Banner year?). The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has recently dropped both “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame”, the latter of which went on to break “Avatar’s” record as the highest grossing movie of all time. The live-action remakes of “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” were box office hits, and on Nov. 12 Disney’s set to drop their own streaming service called Disney+. In addition to providing already existing content from a variety of Disney owned companies, it will also premier a host of eagerly anticipated original shows and movies. Additionally, the last installment of the new “Star Wars” franchise is coming out in December.
So, long story short, they’re pretty much on top of the world.
Well, until they lost Spider-Man to Sony and tore the fan community into an uproar. But, quite frankly, Spidey might be better off in Sony’s hands.
In the first Spider-Man movie, way back in the early 2000s, Sony introduced actor Toby Maguire to the big screen as New York City’s beloved webslinger. Sony made three movies with Maguire before revamping the character with Andrew Garfield in 2012. That’s when things got rocky. After two movies Garfield was shelved, and Sony and Disney (now at the helm of the wildly popular MCU) negotiated a deal for Spider-Man to appear alongside the other heroes in the extended universe. Thus, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was introduced in “Captain America: Civil War.” Holland reprised the role four other times, including two stand alone movies, the most recent of which (Spider-Man: Far From Home) came out just over a month or so ago. When the news broke that Sony and Disney had gone their separate ways and left Spider-man in limbo, fans were distraught. Holland’s Spider-Man has been called the best iteration of the hero so far. Some people blamed Sony, others Disney. The truth is there isn’t a lot of concrete information about exactly what went down between the two companies. According to Deadline and a few other sources, it was likely a monetary issue, with Disney asking an aggressive profit split in their favor that Sony wasn’t willing to go for. While the initial deal was never permanent, it seems unlikely that Spidey will be allowed back into the MCU to get some closure. The website “We Got This Covered” just broke a story alleging that the two companies will be meeting within the next week or two to renegotiate terms.
Spider-Man might be better off with Sony. First let me be clear: I am one of those people who believes that Holland’s version is the best. A lot of it has to do with the fact that he was actually a teenager when he was cast.
As a self-professed huge Disneyland, Star Wars and Marvel fan, it has become increasingly hard to guiltlessly love those franchises. The number of companies Disney owns is, quite frankly, terrifying and ever increasing. And while Disney+ is rolling out a ton of super cool material, it is also a blatant money grab. While it’s easy to love the heroes (and villains) across Disney media, they’re all part of the massive corporate money-making machine. The rereleased “Avengers: Endgame” is a perfect example of this. The three hour long movie mammoth promised six minutes of new footage, but beyond the addition of a nice tribute to Stan Lee, there wasn’t anything especially revolutionary. Buzzfeed reported that one end credit scene was simply the opening of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” while the other was the Hulk with some unfinished CGI. Not exactly magical. Seeing the company not getting something for once is a bit refreshing.
While Maguire’s and Garfield’s portrayals might not quite shine like Holland’s, Sony does have one Spider-Man property for themselves: “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.” The 2018 animated film was a a hit in both the animation and superhero genre and showed that Sony could not only do Spider-Man well, but better than anyone had done before. If some of the inventiveness of that movie could be incorporated into another Sony Spider-Man, there would be hope.
The best case scenario is that Holland gets an actual farewell to the MCU instead of being explained away in a brief on-screen comment. From there, it’s hard to say. In the end the loser isn’t necessarily one company or the other, but the character himself and the poor actors who keep getting recycled. It was a bit of a joke to do Spidey a third time, and now it seems like a fourth try could be on the horizon. Even his super strength and quippy comebacks can’t get poor Spider-Man out of this bind.