Want to see Spider-Man face off with X-Men or the Avengers on the big screen? Despite this week's reveal that some X-Men make an appearance in Amazing Spider-Man 2 (sort of, check the details here ) don’t hold your breath says longtime Spider-Man producer and Marvel Studios’ founder Avi Arad. Earlier this month in an interview with IGN, Arad brushed off the idea of a crossover between the Spider-Man and the various other Marvel movie franchises unless the studios’ have no wheels to turn.
“I think it will take a moment in which we’ve run out of ideas,” Arad says bluntly. “There's so much to tell about Spider-Man. There's so much to tell about the Sinister Six. The relationship between Spider-Man and Venom will bring a whole other world in.”
Although Spider-Man is a part of the Marvel family of characters in comics, in the 1990s Marvel sold off the movie rights to several of its characters – Spider-Man to Sony, and the X-Men and Fantastic Four to Fox – and ended up developing its own blockbuster franchise under the Marvel name. Each franchise worked independently, but with the advent of the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008 with Iron Man’s post-credits, speculation has been rampant – from both the fan sector as well as stockholders in the various companies.
Arad’s statement on this throws cold water on those ideas and might be refuted, but Arad is one of the few people that knows in and out both the Marvel Studios’ philosophy and that of the other studios’ with Marvel films. From 1993 to 2006, Arad was the President and CEO of Marvel’s film projects and established what would become Marvel’s Avengers film franchise. During that time he also worked with the licensors at Sony and Fox as a producer on the Spider-Man and X-Men films, which is something he continued doing after he left Marvel in 2006. Arad’s departure in 2006 was reportedly over his bullish opinion over the impeding slate of Marvel movies, both in the number of films and the strength of the characters.
Arad’s opinion about crossovers between Spider-Man and the other associated Marvel films is one that’s shared with his fellow Amazing Spider-Man producer Matt Tolmach, however.
“You know, Spider-Man in the Avengers is a stunt. Stunts can be cool, but it's also a business, and so the other side of the answer is they're owned by different companies,” Tolmach emphasizes. “And there's a ton left in Sony's world; there's a lot of business left because there's a lot of story left. … For [Sony] to want to take this character and put it with Marvel and Disney is a huge undertaking and probably, as Avi's saying, isn't necessary until you feel like, 'Wow, we're sort of out of ideas. What should we do?' And we're far from out of ideas.”
Looking to the other side of the fence, Marvel’s President of Production Kevin Feige said in 2013 something that echoes Arad’s (his predecessor at Marvel) opinion, but with a glimmer of hope.
“I would say, not any time soon would we be in a position to team up with other studios who have a few of our characters, because we have so many characters ourselves. But I would never say never.”
To fans and armchair industry observers it might be surprising to hear producers resisting the cash cow that an inter-franchise crossover could present for the owners of Marvel’s film rights. It does make corporate sense to exhaust the resources the company already owns, in this case their film rights, before looking to make deals with outside companies and enter expensive partnerships.
What is somewhat surprising, however, is to see a Spider-Man producer call a crossover with the Avengers a "stunt," given that to the hardcore fans that fuel the early press for these films, a unified Marvel Universe is the natural state and makes perfect sense in comic books and on the big screen.