Marvel and Sony’s Tug of War Over Spider-Man Director Jon Watts Was About Fantastic Four

Three-time Spider-Man director Jon Watts will reboot Fantastic Four at Marvel Studios, which began [...]

Three-time Spider-Man director Jon Watts will reboot Fantastic Four at Marvel Studios, which began courting Watts during the public divorce between Disney and Sony that nearly pulled Tom Holland's wall-crawler out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Last August, industry trade Deadline reported a looming tug of war between Spider-Man studio Sony Pictures and Disney-owned Marvel over Watts, who signed a two-movie deal that ended with that summer's Spider-Man: Far From Home. The report came just days after Sony and Disney declined to renew their partnership that brought a rebooted Spider-Man into the MCU under a five-picture pact that started with Captain America: Civil War and expired with Far From Home.

Weeks later, Sony and Disney agreed to a new deal keeping Holland's Spider-Man in the MCU. Under this second pact, Marvel chief Kevin Feige would take creative charge and stay on as producer, and Disney would supply a quarter of the box office and receive 25% of the profits.

The two studios would partner on the untitled Spider-Man 3, again directed by Watts for a theatrical release in December 2021, and Holland would commit to at least one more appearance in an as-yet-revealed Marvel Studios movie. Like the preceding pair of Spider-Man films, which paired Holland's Spidey with Marvel's Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and then Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the third movie would co-star Marvel's Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

The identity of Watts' unconfirmed Marvel Studios project would remain a mystery until December 10, when Feige confirmed the Watts-directed Fantastic Four reboot during a reveal-heavy Disney Investor Day 2020. The announcement came amid growing signs that Watts' Spider-Man 3 is a live-action Spider-Verse teaming Holland with Spider-Men played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.

There is now a question of whether Watts hinted at his F4 reboot towards the end of Far From Home, where Spider-Man swings past a sign reading: "We are so excited to show you what comes next," with the numbers 1, 2, and 3 followed by a question mark where a "4" should be.

During San Diego Comic-Con last July — where Feige revealed feature films Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, and the Mahershala Ali-starring Blade — Feige held off on announcing Fantastic Four or X-Men projects but name-dropped both properties newly acquired from 20th Century Fox months earlier.

When asked Feige about the tease after the star-studded presentation, Feige responded, "That means that we have them back and we are working towards it."

Feige and Marvel on Thursday did not reveal release or casting details behind Watts' Fantastic Four, which remains undated. Spider-Man 3 swings into theaters on December 17, 2021.