Disney and Marvel Studios' back-and-forth bout with Sony Pictures over Spider-Man has been one of the defining news stories of 2019. The situation looked drastic at the end of summer, as Disney and Sony had a very public falling out, that resulted in the sudden end of Tom Holland's Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thankfully for fans, cooler heads prevailed, as Marvel's Kevin Feige and Sony's Amy Pascal managed to work out a deal that will allow Spider-Man to properly end his MCU saga. However, now comes a new rumor that states Disney wants to fully own Spider-Man, and is willing to pay Sony $4 - $5 billion in order to make it happen!
As reported by Geekosity scooper Mikey Sutton (via Cheat Sheet):
“While rumors have circulated before the Sony-Disney dispute of such a purchase, it was mere speculation, especially the erroneous high number that was quoted. What I’m hearing is that Disney is looking to offer in the range of $4 to $5 billion for Spider-Man. But now the questions will be asked.”
That report led to YouTube scooper 3 Buck Theater weighing in, with the added information that Disney apparently wants to fully own Spider-Man in order to install him as the leader of The Avengers!
The speculation is that Marvel Studios wants Holland's Spider-Man to lead a team of younger Avengers that rise up to take the place of the former team. Meanwhile, Brie Larson's Captain Marvel - who has been rumored to be a major focus of MCU Phase 4 - will reportedly be positioned as the leader of A-Force, the all-female Avengers team fist teased in Avengers: Endgame's climatic battle.
This is all just rumor and speculation - but before worrying about if it's happening, it needs to be asked: should Disney buy Spider-Man from Sony for that price? And would Sony even sell?
MCU Phase 4 is conspicuously introducing younger heroes into the mix (Ms. Marvel, Kate Bishop / Hawkeye), and with rumors pointing to someone like Nova also being introduced to the MCU soon, there is definitely a new phase of the Avengers team taking shape, with inexperienced heroes that need to prove themselves. By the end of his third MCU movie, Holland's Spider-Man will likely be in a much more mature phase of his hero career, and ready to lead. Meanwhile, Brie Larson recently hinted that the A-Force movie conversations are taking place, so we soon have more credit to this rumor.
If there is one potential hurdle to all this, it's just one looming question: What would Sony gain from letting Spider-Man go?
Sony has just broken into an entire new revenue stream of Spider-Man movies, with the box office success of Venom last year, and the critical acclaim of the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse animated film. When the Disney/Sony split happened, Sony wasted no time pushing ahead with its own Spider-Man Universe plans, tapping Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes) to direct Venom 2, and confirming that Woody Harrelson's Carnage will definitely be in the sequel. Early speculation was that Venom 2 would serve as a vehicle for introducing Tom Holland's Spider-Man to the Venom franchise, and that still seems like it is very likely the plan. When the Spider-Man MCU connection was reformed, the stipulation that Holland can be in both Marvel and Sony's franchises at the same time all but soft-confirmed Spider-Man's Venom 2 appearance.
That's all to say: right now, Sony holds a lot of cards. Spider-Man will still make big money for them, and his Marvel connections will only bring more fan interest in Sony's spinoff films like Venom and Morbius. The recent announcement of a Madame Webb movie seemed to indicate a whole new live-action Spider-Man multiverse being introduced - not the kind of plans you make if you're considering selling a high-value character. A Spider-Verse sequel is in the works, as well as spinoffs of that franchise (like Spider-Ham's series) - so again, Sony is only looking at more and more profit from Spider-Man in the coming years. That makes this latest rumor somewhat hard to take on face value.
Of course, since there's no real schedule attached to this rumor, it could arguably be a plan for down the line far enough for Sony to get its Spider-Man Universe money first. Similarly, the particulars of the deal might give Disney ownership over live-action Spider-Man, but leave the animated rights and/or supporting characters in the hands of Sony. Right now there's simply just too much rumor, and not enough fact to go on.
Upcoming Marvel Studios projects includeBlack Widow on May 1, 2020, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in Fall 2020, The Eternals on November 6, 2020, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on February 12, 2021, Loki in Spring 2021, WandaVision in Spring 2021, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 7, 2021, What If…? in Summer 2021, Hawkeye in Fall 2021, and Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5, 2021, and Black Panther 2 on May 6, 2022. Marvel Studios Disney+ series without release dates include Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk.