Before the public divorce now threatening to tear Tom Holland's Spider-Man from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sony and Marvel parent company Disney once agreed an "unprecedented" pact between the rival companies was "the best thing for Spider-Man."
"This was a very unique scenario, in large part thanks to [producer] Amy Pascal, and then [Sony chairman] Tom Rothman, the people at Sony, the people at Disney, who knew and really believed this was the best thing for Spider-Man," Feige said in a 2017 interview with Screen Crush when promoting Spider-Man: Homecoming, the first Spidey solo produced under a five-movie deal that allowed the Sony-controlled character to exist and operate within the Disney-owned MCU.
That deal, Feige added, went "very smooth." It was in the best interest of not just Peter Parker — who would for the first time exist in a universe shared by other Marvel superheroes on the big screen — but Sony and Disney, who would enjoy great success from the mutually beneficial deal.
"And egos and lawyers and all that other corporate stuff that you would think would hinder it, it was all very smooth. Sort of shockingly so," Feige said. "People find that interesting, and maybe unprecedented, but it all really came down — from my point of view — to a creative vision for what to do with this character."
Holland's rebooted Spider-Man joined the MCU in Disney's Captain America: Civil War and headlined Sony's Homecoming before appearing alongside Earth's mightiest heroes again in Disney's Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Sony's second picture, Spider-Man: Far From Home, would mark the end of the deal.
According to a recent report from Variety, both parties returned to the table to renegotiate a deal as long as six months ago. Claims from inside sources have been contradictory: one insider close to the deal claimed Sony didn't move to act on re-upping the deal despite Disney's efforts to keep the character, and another said it was Disney who was "no longer interested" in loaning out Feige to work on IP under Sony's control.
That same report from Variety said multiple insiders reported Rothman was willing to up Disney-Marvel's stake to 25%, up from the reported 5% of first dollar gross; a report from Deadline said it was Disney who asked for a 25% stake and co-financing deal for Sony movies involving Marvel and Feige, who masterminded Homecoming and Far From Home — the latter going on to become Sony's highest grossing movie ever.
Worse still, another report claimed Rothman and Sony — hot off the successes of Venom and the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — believe they no longer need Marvel or Feige. (Rothman once conceded Sony "deferred the creative lead to Marvel" on Spider-Man because Feige and his studio "know what they're doing.") The Tom Hardy-led Venom launched "Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters," to be populated by some of the roughly 900 characters whose screen rights are controlled by Sony; planned spinoffs include Kraven the Hunter, Black Cat, Silk and Morbius, the latter now being readied for a July 2020 debut.
Asked about the still unresolved split at D23 Expo over the weekend, both Feige and Holland gave diplomatic answers — even if Holland, in his video interview, did appear to glance off-camera a total of three times.
"Basically, we've made five great movies. It's been five amazing years," Holland told EW. "I've had the time of my life. Who knows what the future holds? But all I know is that I'm going to continue playing Spider-Man and having the time of my life. It's going to be so fun, however we choose to do it. The future for Spider-Man will be different, but it will be equally as awesome and amazing, and we'll find new ways to make it even cooler."
And Feige — reportedly caught in the crossfire of a warring Sony and Disney, each under the respective charge of Rothman and Alan Bergman — said the original deal left him with a feeling of "gratitude and joy."
"We got to make five films within the MCU with Spider-Man: two standalone films and three with the Avengers. It was a dream that I never thought would happen," Feige told EW. "It was never meant to last forever. We knew there was a finite amount of time that we'd be able to do this, and we told the story we wanted to tell, and I'll always be thankful for that."
But that story has not been told in full, as evidenced by the jaw-dropper cliffhanger that ended Far From Home. In July, before the public learned talks between Sony and Disney broke down, Feige teased his plans for Spider-Man 3 — plans that included a Peter Parker story that's "never been done before on film."
"It'll be fun to see Spidey back in his element, out of the shadow of Tony, out of the shadow of the other Avengers, as his own man now, as his own hero," Feige said in that July interview. "And yet now facing his own challenges that aren't coming from Avengers fighting, like [Civil War], or aliens coming, like [Infinity War] or [Endgame]. It's all Peter focused and Peter based."
Both Sony and Disney continue to know Spider-Man in the MCU — where he's been set up as its new face following the passing of mentor Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) — is the best thing for the character.0comments
Fans have expressed their discontent by waging war online, taking to social media with anti-Sony and anti-Disney sentiments alike; when word first broke, it ignited a passionate fanbase to launch a Sony boycott that includes swearing off Spider-Verse sequels and the Andy Serkis-directed Venom 2.
The first Sony-Disney deal was unprecedented and at one time considered little more than amazing fantasy. But as the character at the heart of this tug of war understands better than most, with great power must come great responsibility — and because Spider-Man has become such an integral part of the MCU, made possible only through the combined efforts of Disney and Sony, it's the responsibility of both sides to do what's right.