The internet exploded in a classic online fervor of over-reactions and uninformed opinions when news broke that Sony and Marvel Studios had severed their relationship, barring Tom Holland’s Spider-Man from appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in any fashion moving forward. The clash of two mega-corporations leaves but one main casualty — the fans, who feel betrayed and as if they’ve been robbed of the cinematic Spider-Man stories of their dreams.
At first, I empathized with these fans and felt equally distraught. I mean, Spidey’s “Underoos!” moment in Captain America: Civil War is one of my all-time favorite superhero moments and Spider-Man: Homecoming was a refreshing take on a Spider-Man flick that eschewed the repetitive origin story for a baptism-by-fire approach to a solo Spidey movie. After the initial shock of the breakup between Marvel Studios and Sony wore off, however, I thought about the implications of this news more and how, really, this might actually lead to some awesome Spider-Man movies in the future.
Now, before you immediately scroll to the comment section to call me an uneducated Sony-shill, please know this: I am not trying to convince you this breakup is good news. It isn’t. All I am asking is that we, as a community of internet nerds, geeks, and superhero enthusiasts, try to look at this news in a more positive light; find the good rather than scream into the digital void about the bad.
Rather than perpetuate the myth that all of us are sniveling basement dwellers who are constantly angry that the movies aren’t good enough, why don’t we try to turn the other cheek and find things to be happy about? In that spirit, looking at the bright side, here are a few reasons why Spider-Man returning to Sony isn’t as bad as you think.
Spider-Man can now be the center of his own cinematic universe
Prior to the superhero movie craze that kicked-off with 2008’s Iron Man, Spider-Man was undoubtedly Marvel’s most recognizable and beloved character. Even after just five appearances across 23 MCU movies, it’s still hard to argue against Spider-Man’s throne as Marvel’s staple hero. Which is why I always found it just a tiny bit disappointing that Spider-Man wasn’t so integral to the MCU. Going back to Sony, however, allows the studio to build their own franchise of films built entirely around Spider-Man with no one to steal the spotlight.
I don’t dislike the MCU incarnation of Spider-Man in any way and his interactions with the more established characters were wholesomely wonderful, but Holland’s Spidey still felt stuck in the shadows of his onscreen counterparts, especially Tony Stark. This won’t be a problem at Sony where the only other established in-universe character is his symbiote counterpart/nemesis who operates on the opposite side of the country and has never even heard of Peter Parker.
Spider-Man going back to Sony really takes a lot off of the web-slinger’s shoulders and allows him more narrative freedom outside the constructs of the MCU. He doesn’t need to save the world. He doesn’t need to be the next Tony Stark. He doesn’t need to assemble the Young Avengers. He just needs to be the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Sony can build their franchise around that Spider-Man, rather than adding him onto the 13th film in a 23 film saga. Spider-Man’s days of Avenger-ing (that’s a word, right?) may sadly be behind him, but now he’ll be anchoring his own cinematic universe with him at the focal point. What Spider-Man fan doesn’t want that?
Sony has the rights to almost all of Spider-Man’s iconic rogues’ gallery
Despite $26.8 billion dollars of beloved box office success, the MCU has been criticized for its forgettable villains (Thanos and Killmonger as the obvious exceptions). While both Spider-Man movies featured villains who were still better than most other MCU films, Marvel Studios was nonetheless hampered in their choices of a big bad to face Spidey because of Sony. With Sony taking over Spider-Man once again, the opportunity arises to pit the young Peter Parker against some of his greatest and most memorable foes.
Say what you will about Tom Hardy’s Venom (which I couldn’t finish but is beloved by many AiPT! contributors), but I think it is safe to say every Spider-Man fan, young and old, is dying to see Spidey take on his symbiote counterpart on the big screen once again. It literally can’t get worse than Spider-Man 3, so the possibility of Hardy’s Venom facing off against Holland’s Spider-Man alone should make Sony’s Spider-Man seem at least a little promising.
It’s not just Venom that calls Sony Pictures home — Black Cat, Silver Sable, Kraven the Hunter, the Green Goblin, Rhino, Doctor Octopus, the Lizard, and a bevy of other colorful supervillains including at least one iteration of the Sinister Six are awaiting their big-screen debut with Sony, debuts that can now be made across their greatest foe. Remember how awesome it was taking on the Sinister Six in Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4? Now we can see that on the big-screen with Holland in the suit. Ever heard of a little story called Kraven’s Last Hunt? Sony has the ability to bring that story to theaters in all its gothic, spider-eating glory.
Sony has the opportunity to put the “neighborhood” back into “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”
Despite the fact that New York City is ingrained to the very fabric of Spider-Man’s existence, the MCU incarnation spent what felt like 32 minutes of screen time actually in NYC. Actually, I think most of that time was Peter Parker in NYC, not even Spider-Man. As much as I enjoyed the MCU take on Spidey, by the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home all I wanted to see was a Spider-Man movie where he simply fought crime at home.
No more fighting Titans on distant moons. No more battling other spandex-clad adults in German airports. No more gallivanting about Europe getting duped by a handsome Tony Stark wannabe. Just Spider-Man, fighting petty thieves in Manhattan back alleys and thwarting grandstanding supervillains in Times Square. It’s all I want.
Without a greater, established universe to worry about, Sony has the opportunity to rein in Spider-Man’s adventures and focus on one of his most endearing qualities: his undying love for his city. The best Spider-Man stories, in any medium, aren’t when he joins the Avengers to save the world from killer robots or join Tony Stark in a sudden anti-vigilante crusade. The most memorable and most enduring Spider-Man stories focus on Spider-Man and Peter Parker sacrificing everything to protect the people of New York.
NYC is not simply the setting of Spider-Man’s stories, it is a driving force behind his commitment to his crime-fighting lifestyle that almost serves as a character in its own right. Spider-Man without NYC just feels off, like spaghetti and meatballs without sauce, or a Tom King book without a nine-panel grid, and Sony has the opportunity to bring Spider-Man back home for more than just a few scenes.
Into the Spider-Verse
I bring this up for two reasons; the first is to remind you that Sony is the studio behind the Oscar-winning animated film that showed the world Peter Parker wasn’t the only kid capable of being Spider-Man. Sure, Sony’s experience with live-action superhero storytelling has been hit or miss, but what they did with Into the Spider-Verse is simply astonishing and should earn them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to telling Spider-Man stories moving forward. If Sony could capture just a fraction of the magic of their animated sleeper hit, the live-action Spidey movies will be just fine.
The second reason is to mention the possibility of a live-action version, or a reimagining, of Into the Spider-Verse increases exponentially with Spider-Man under Sony’s watch. I honestly think Into the Spider-Verse is the perfect superhero movie, so expectations for a live-action version would be extremely high, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be absolutely hyped to see Miles, Gwen, Peter, and co. hit theaters once again.
Tom Holland is sticking around as Peter Parker/Spider-Man… probably
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Tom Holland’s portrayal of the titular Spider-Man has been damn-near universally praised in all five of his MCU appearances and he’s not going anywhere… hopefully.
It’s not guaranteed Holland will be reprising his role for a sixth time, but sources have told Deadline that Sony hopes to retain Tom Holland and director Jon Watts for the two Spider-Man movies still in the works. Regardless of all the anger surrounding Spidey’s return to Sony, fans of Spider-Man, whether the comic version or MCU version, will still flock to theaters around the world so long as Tom Holland is still the star.
If Tom Holland isn’t the star, and Sony recasts him? Then disregard everything I’ve said and join me in the streets of Downtown Disney until we get our Spider-Man back.
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