Marvel and Sony Kept Spider-Man Split Secret From Cast and Crew

Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures kept their impasse over a second Spider-Man deal secret from the cast and crew of Spider-Man: Far From Home, a new book reveals. In August 2019, weeks after Far From Home webbed up the biggest box office for any Sony movie, the press and the public learned what few knew at Marvel and Sony: Tom Holland's Spider-Man would no longer have a home in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The unprecedented pact reached between the two studios to bring the rebooted wall-crawler into the MCU, home to Iron Man and the Avengers, had expired after five movies — Captain America: Civil WarSpider-Man: HomecomingAvengers: Infinity WarAvengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home — and would not be renewed.

"There were only a handful of us that were aware of that — we didn't tell the filmmakers [or] the actors," Kevin Feige, the Marvel Studios president and producer who took creative charge on the Sony and Marvel Spider-Man movies, says in the officially authorized book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "We didn't want it to color the finishing of the movie or the press junket. All I cared about was finishing the movie to make it feel as great as we could." 

Just before the release of Endgame, the climax of the Infinity Saga that would have its epilogue with Far From Home, the Spidey sequel was "about three-quarters of the way through" post-production when talks broke down between Disney's Marvel and Spider-Man screen rights holders Sony. Their five-film deal officially expired with the release of Far From Home, Feige and other executives kept the impasse under wraps with hopes a second deal could be reached to keep Spider-Man in the universe where he'd become one of Earth's mightiest heroes.

According to the book, it was at this time that Holland, trilogy director Jon Watts, and the core creatives behind Far From Home were in the dark about the dead deal. The partnership that saw Spider-Man swing into a scuffle between other superheroes for the first time — an amazing fantasy that once seemed impossible — was officially over. Reports even surfaced that Feige was devising ways to write Spider-Man out of the universe altogether

Bob Iger, then the CEO of Disney, made it his "personal mission" to remedy the situation and renew the deal that allowed Spider-Man to exist as part of a live-action universe with other Marvel superheroes for the first time in his cinematic history. After fans voiced their displeasure online and at the bi-annual D23 Expo, Iger led "numerous conversations" that involved Feige, Holland, Chief Counsel at Marvel Studios David Galluzi, Disney's Alan Horn and Alan Bergman, and Sony Picture's chairman Tom Rothman, according to the book. 

Both sides finally untangled the web hanging over the partnership that proved beneficial for Marvel and Sony's burgeoning Spider-Man universe. According to press reports at the time, Sony and Disney reportedly reached a deal to co-finance a third Spider-Man movie for a 75%/25% split of the budget and profits. With Feige again taking creative charge of Spider-Man 3 — since titled Spider-Man: No Way Home — Sony and Marvel were back in business. 

Under the new deal, Sony and Disney/Marvel would work together on No Way Home and Holland's Spider-Man would appear in a future Marvel Studios movie, potentially an Avengers 5. The crisis averted, the renewed pact meant even closer collaboration between Feige's MCU and the rebranded Sony's Spider-Man Universe home to anti-heroes Venom (Tom Hardy) and Morbius (Jared Leto). 

"I would've been very disappointed [if the impasse was not resolved," says Spider-Man producer Amy Pascal. "Because I didn't think we were finished. I knew we had more stories to tell in the cinematic universe. Also, because I adore everyone at Marvel." 

"It became a big deal in a way that I think was somewhat surprising to everybody," adds Feige. "But it also showed how powerful the partnership has been, and how great those films were that Jon Watts and Amy Pascal and we did together. For various reasons, briefly, business angles sort of took things over a little bit. But it really was [a case of], 'What's best for the character of Spider-Man and best for the fans of Spider-Man?' That's what prevailed the first time that allowed us to do Homecoming and Far From Home." 

If a renewed pact never came together, Feige adds, "There was a part of me that thought, 'Okay, we did way more than I ever even thought we could do. And if this is where it ends, we'll both be okay.'" As for the fans who protested and made it clear they wanted Spider-Man to continue on in the MCU, Feige says: "I'm so thankful they did." 

Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios co-production Spider-Man: No Way Home, starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, swings into theaters on December 17.