For months now, rumors have swirled that Marvel wants franchise star Andrew Garfield, producer Avi Arad and basically anyone with ties to the Amazing Spider-Man franchise, out. That means recasting.
"Under the deal, the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film from Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU)," the press release said. "Sony Pictures will thereafter release the next installment of its $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017."
You'lll notice that "new Spider-Man."
The producers tend to take care of themselves, although former Sony co-chief Amy Pascal remains attached to this new franchise despite having left Sony last week.
There's been rumors for some time that Spidey could play a role in Captain America: Civil War, or that he'd miss that movie and be held over for Avengers: Infinity War. In either case, Ol' Webhead won't be played by Garfield in all likelihood...and might even be the youngest star Marvel has put onscreen in a superhero role.
That's because, as they did following the One More Day event, Marvel has supposedly expressed interest in returning Spider-Man to as early a status quo as they possibly could. In this case, that means putting the character back in high school, hitting the reset button on his romances...and, of course, living at home with Aunt May in Queens and eating wheatcakes.
That's not much of a surprise; that status quo was reinstated following the events of the One More Day story which, if you remember, was precipitated by the events of Civil War. No conflicting reports have emerged to say Marvel is interested in taking a radically different approach, so even though The Amazing Spider-Man just had the character living at home and going to high school, and the new films are meant to be entirely unrelated to Amazing, they'll have to find a way to make it new again for the third time in fifteen or so years.
It does seem as though Venom, Black Cat, Sinister Six and the other planned or rumored films in the Amazing franchise are no longer happening. That said, it opens up a lot of other opportunities, and since Sony is remaining involved, it seems unlikely they'll scrap their idea for spinoffs completely. There are characters in Marvel's library who Sony didn't have access to, but who might now cameo in a Spider-Man film. Like Batman, Spider-Man's movies are big business even when people don't like them, so including a Spidey cameo in a film like Doctor Strange or another movie that isn't considered a guaranteed blockbuster seems like a no-brainer.
If there's a major downside to this, it's that certain things fans have been waiting to see -- characters like Venom, who require a more experienced Spider-Man, or J.K. Simmons back as J. Jonah Jameson -- seem like a lost cause in the near future now.
We'll know more, soon. Spider-Man is back in theaters in 2017.