Let’s begin this half-formed stream of consciousness hot take on Tuesday afternoon’s surprising report outta Deadline about Sony and Marvel’s split over the Spider-Man franchise by acknowledging we’re not a fly on the wall of the negotiating room.
We probably also have to concede Deadline only knows so much about the reported situation and Newsarama certainly has no new insight at this hour. And with a third Tom Holland/Jon Watts Spider-Man likely not possible until 2022 at the earliest anyway, there’s probably still a lot of time for whatever the situation currently is or isn't to be ironed out in the coming weeks and months.
We may also just be in the public stage of a negotiation [fingers crossed]. There’s already reports this may indeed be the case and Deadline’s reporting is premature.
That said, at this moment the story that surfaced today and spread like wildfire makes it difficult to envision the next Spider-Man film being firmly set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - despite how much it needs to be, given that it should immediately pick up on arguably the biggest cliffhanger in MCU history.
Deadline’s story and subsequent follow-ups by other trades leaves things unclear as to whether if accurate and unresolved Sony will just take its Spider-ball and go home or try to pretend nothing is different than it was. Meaning if nothing changes we don’t know if would they try to continue the story begun in Homecoming and Far From Home completely on their own terms … or if the third Spider-Man will be told with a quasi-Netflix-slash-Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.-type vibe, where the film won’t outright come out say its not in the MCU but won’t actually feature any MCU elements in it.
It’s hard to imagine Marvel Studios voluntarily lending Sony any IP they own in the latter arrangement, and it's also hard to imagine how such a scenario would not be an epic mistake.
Don’t get us wrong, Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man is great; we dig Zendaya as MJ in a big way; we’d love to see more of Jacob Batalon’s Ned; and Watts has earned the right to finish his story. But the horses have left the stable - fans are too invested in what both parties have now built on their own accord to accept a lesser version of the same product from here on in.
And it would be a lesser product. You can’t move mountains to make it happen - to have Holland appear in three major MCU films - to have Robert Downey Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson (not to mention Jon Favreau) appear in the Spider-Man films - only to ask us the movergoers not to care later ... to pretend Spider-Man just isn’t a factor in the MCU anymore and/or that MCU isn’t a factor in Spider-Man’s life and career.
You all did too good of a job ... together. You made certain we can’t grant you that narrative mulligan.
Let’s be crystal clear what we’re saying here: If its time for another Spider-Man reboot at Sony and you want to hire another actor to play the role alongside Tom Hardy as Venom - more power to you. That’s Hollywood, and some of us (though I expect not a lot of us) can live with the sometimes harsh realities of a cutthroat billion dollar business.
And if the MCU has to go on with the expository explanation Spider-Man had to retire and go underground because of the events of the mid-trailer teaser in Far From Home, it’s not the most satisfying of solutions, but at least the cliffhanger makes it somewhat logical (if not eloquent). We here at Newsarama (at least) could begrudgingly accept this scenario too.
Just don’t try to have your Spider-cake and eat it too, Sony.
Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is an MCU character, period. He should live, fight, marry, retire and/or die as one, as much as Iron Man, Captain America and Black Widow did and eventually Thor and the rest will. He should be there the next time someone or something threatens the planet or universe and fans should get to watch him grow into a leader of the superheroes we've come to know.
In a harsh new reality in which Hollywood studios are finding it more and more difficult to get moviegoers to actually go to the movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not only the surest bet out there, it’s one of the few good bets left.
It was built on good will and good faith with the audience that has become so invested in this unprecedented narrative tapestry that you’ve woven.
Please don’t take that good faith for granted. The check we've written isn't blank.
We may be loyal, but we’re not pushovers.