UPDATED 2-12-15 with news of the two actors they are discussing for their new Spider-Man
So, Spider-Man is coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. First it was a rumor, then it was dead, then it was a rumor flat out confirmed by leaked emails, then it was dead, then it was rumor again just not confirmed by leaked emails, then mostly silence, and now this, dropping on us late on a Monday evening. As such, honestly, now that it’s finally happened doesn’t it feel kind of like we’ve already discussed all of this at length, the hypothetical, “If Marvel does take Spider-Man back how would you feel about that?” scenarios. Well, it’s not hypothetical anymore.
I am going to break this down as follows: What We Know, What We Don’t, The Fan Reaction, The Business Reaction.
Everything We Know
-A new Spider-Man movie will come out July 28, 2017
-This has caused a ripple effect in the release dates for four other Marvel Studios movies: Thor: Ragnarok goes from 7/27/17 to 11/3/17, Black Panther from 11/3/17 to 7/6/18, Captain Marvel from 7/6/18 to 11/2/18, and Inhumans from 11/2/18 to 7/12/19.
-Kevin Feige & Amy Pascal will produce the new Spider-Man film while the previous film’s producers, Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, will executive-produce.
-They are currently looking for ways to incorporate Marvel Cinematic Universe characters into the Spider-Man universe
-The official Marvel.com announcement describes this as being a “new Spider-Man”
-According to The Hollywood Reporter, director Marc Webb is out
-They are looking to recast Spider-Man with an actor under the age of 25, with Teen Wolf/The Maze Runner‘s Dylan O’Brien and Percy Jackson himself Logan Lerman on the short-list, at least Variety says so.
–The Daily Beast has heard that Andrew Garfield was offered the opportunity to continue forward with the franchise in some capacity but he turned it down because it ultimately didn’t make much sense for either party
Everything We Don’t
-Whether or not this new Spider-Man will definitely be Peter Parker. With Avi Arad now pushed aside, they have removed their most vocal opponent to the idea of doing the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man
-What Sony will do with The Sinister Six. That November 2016 release date is canceled, but The Wall Street Journal reports that Sony has simply shifted the film back into development to rethink their approach in light of the deal with Marvel.
-Which specific Marvel film Spider-Man will show up in before his solo outing. The Wall Street Journal is reporting the obvious: It will be Captain America: Civil War, but I’m waiting to see if someone from Marvel actually confirms that. They supposedly had two versions of the Civil War script, one with Spider-Man and one without meaning they could react quickly if something like this happened. However, do they really have time to potentially cast a new Spider-Man and work him into Civil War even though they’re supposed to start filming very soon? Why rush the casting process just to fit him in like that? The only other Marvel Studios films which are due out before the new Spider-Man and have not actually started filming yet are Doctor Strange (11/4/16) and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (5/5/17).
The Fan Reaction
Secondly, I feel bad for Andrew Garfield. The leaked emails late last year revealed Sony’s proposed deal with Marvel was contingent upon Marvel getting to recast the role of Spider-Man and making a clean break from The Amazing Spider-Man films. They wanted to softly re-boot the character with more of a focus on the struggles of being a high-school student AND a superhero and less on romance. Now that they’ve reached an actual deal the assumption is that this is probably what they’re going to do, starting with sending the current Spider-Man packing. It is a cruel end for Andrew Garfield, but, hey, he did get to play Spider-Man, a boyhood dream of his, for two movies. Plus, he got Emma Stone out of the deal, assuming they never ever break-up. So, the fifties are still too big for his wallet, and his diamond shoes are still too tight.
Marvel Studios is generally better at making comic book movies than Sony is, and the best option for a great Spider-Man movie to get made is to let Marvel Studios do all the heavy lifting, which is apparently exactly what is happening. However, is potentially going nuclear and starting over really the best option? After all, there are things about The Amazing Spider-Man films that are arguably superior to the Sam Raimi Trilogy, such as a Spider-Man whose quips feel natural instead of forced, with such dialogue far more believable from Andrew Garfield than it was with Tobey Maguire’s zen-nerd version of the character, a more nuanced depiction of the life of a teenager, more seemingly age-appropriate actors playing Uncle Ben and Aunt May, and, most importantly, better romance and chemistry between its two leads. In fact, the thing this franchise had going for it which made it unique not just in comparison to the earlier films but also any other current comic book film franchise was the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Since that story has now played itself out after two films is there really no reason to keep going? Or am I being too kind to Garfield? Is he maybe just a guy who played great opposite of his real life girlfriend but actually made for a crappy version of Spider-Man, as argued by Drew at HitFix?
Basically, I’m conflicted. On the one hand, yay, Marvel Studios=good, Sony=less good, therefore this can only be an improvement. However,The Amazing Spider-Man films get a bit of a bad rap, or at least that first one does. There have been multiple indications along the way (i.e., certain things said in interviews, footage in trailers never showing up in the film or on home video, etc.) that neither of those films are quite what director Marc Webb wanted to make. They look studio noted to death giving the impression that the Webb/Garfield/Stone trio never quite got set free to play. Sony has been humbled enough to let someone else come in to take over, but I can’t help but lament what could have been. That all being said, Sony maintains final creative control over the new Spider-Man. Surely they won’t try to note Kevin Feige to death, right?
The Business Reaction
Spider-Man is the single biggest character in all of comics. No, seriously, he is. Superman and Batman don’t even come close, at least not when you look at the bottom line. Spider-Man’s five films have grossed just south of $4 billion worldwide, making it the sixth most lucrative film franchise of all time behind the likes of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, James Bond, and Harry Potter (for the record, Batman is only the 9th biggest film franchise). In 2014, Spider-Man comics bracketed the year-end top 10, with The Amazing Spider-Man #1 being the top-selling comic book of the year and Superior Spider-Man #31 the tenth best-selling. But here’s where it gets really impressive: Spider-Man more than doubles the closest competition in global licensing revenue; the $1.3 billion he generates dwarfs Batman’s $494 million, The Avengers’ $325 million, and Superman’s $277 million. So, basically, Spider-Man is Marvel’s cash-cow. As such, don’t you think they’d love to exercise complete brand control over the character? Until now, they couldn’t; Sony made the movies, Marvel published the comics and sold licensing rights for toys, shirts, etc. The two made tons of money off of the same character, just from opposite ends. Well, lately Sony hasn’t been holding up its end of the bargain, but much like its former president Amy Pascal, who will soon step down from her position and into a pretty kick-ass producing partnership with the studio, they’ve managed to fail upward.
As part of the internet-breaking deal to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sony somehow managed to retain final creative control and will continue to finance, distribute AND own the new movies. Basically, Marvel loaned Sony Kevin Feige to produce their next Spider-Man movie, and in return Sony loaned Spider-Man out to Marvel to let them use him in at least one of their own movies, most likely Captain America: Civil War. It is a deal that benefits both parties as Sony was in need of someone who could help them make a good Spider-Man movie, Marvel needed to guard against Sony’s handling of the character on the film side tarnishing the brand and negatively impacting their toy sales (which Sony has nothing to do with), and fans have been clamoring for this for years.
There are concerns, though. The leaked emails revealed that the Sony brass and Spider-Man producers truly believed that if a new Spider-Man just happened to show up in a Marvel movie everyone would just go with it the same way we all just went with a new Hulk in The Avengers. However, if a new Peter Parker Spider-Man pops up in Civil War that will mean they’ve rebooted the character just two years after Amazing Spider-Man 2. It was thought that one of the reasons those ASM movies did so poorly financially was that franchise fatigue had set in, and we were kind of getting tired of Spider-Man films. Couldn’t starting over simply make that worse, kind of a “Why should I invest in this? If it doesn’t do well you’ll just reboot again in a couple of years, regardless of whether or not I liked it?”
All of this is really keyed off of the fact that Amazing Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man 2 turned into the lowest-grossing Spider-Man films of all time, but they both still made at least $700 million worldwide. That can’t all be blind brand loyalty. Some people actually liked these films, or at least liked Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.