While Marvel didn’t reacquire the Spider-Man license like some might have hoped, what did happen was fairly significant. Sony and Marvel came to a mutually beneficial deal in which Spider-Man will become a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in one Marvel film prior to having a new standalone feature to be released in July of 2017. Marvel will help produce the standalone film, even though Sony will continue to finance, distribute, and retain the final say on all creative decisions in regard to the film.
So. What does this mean? Well, first and foremost it will likely see the end of Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man. While it hasn’t been confirmed at this point that a reboot will take place, we can only assume that this is exactly what’s going to happen. The studios will have to differentiate the “new” Spider-Man with the previous ones, and the most effective way of doing that is by replacing the actor. “This is in no way related to the last two movies,” the move says.
Unfortunately, if the new Spider-Man isn’t going to be related to the two Amazing Spider-Man movies that Sony put out as part of the first “reboot,” it also means that all of the building toward the Sinister Six has been for naught. All of that teasing that happened when it comes to the supervillain team-up — which at one point included a standalone movie of their own — won’t be happening now. The franchise maintenance that happened in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems like an even bigger waste of time now. They got Paul Giamatti into that Rhino suit for about three total minutes and we’re never going to see it again.
Worst of all, we’re likely never going to get to see Felicity Jones play Black Cat, which was the one and only thing I was genuinely looking forward to when it came to the Amazing Spider-Man franchise. Sure, she only had something like three scenes, but the now-Oscar-nominated actress playing Black Cat would have been worth watching. It looks like we now won’t get to see that. How much does this bug me? Well, I’ve dedicated an entire paragraph to it. That should tell you something.
What we might get is at least one element from the Sam Raimi trilogy of Spider-Man movies returning. J.K. Simmons — also now an Oscar nominee — recently stated that he’d be open to returning as J. Jonah Jameson, a role he absolutely nailed. Is it possible that he knew this news was coming, and that he’s already been approached? We shall see. It’s certainly a possibility.
Something else we know is that, at least for now, Spider-Man’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to be very limited. This is a trial run for both studios. It’s only for two films, one of which will only give the web-slinger in a cameo role. Marvel isn’t going to let him be a crucial Avengers member or anything like that — not with a two-picture deal. Sony wouldn’t want that, either. If the standalone movie is a success and Sony feels that it would be smarter to go ahead with its own Spidey-universe, the studio wouldn’t want to confuse fans by yanking him away from an even bigger property without any explanation. We should expect Spider-Man to only have a small impact with respect to the greater Marvel universe — at least until a bigger deal is signed between Marvel and Sony.
With Spider-Man now in the “Marvel Studios” brand, we’re also going to shuffle around some of the scheduled Marvel films. Marvel has already announced that many of its future titles have been shifted. The next Thor movie has been moved back several months, Black Panther has been moved up a few months, and Inhumans has been pushed back to 2019. It was likely inevitable that some of these dates would be moved anyway, even with Marvel’s rock-solid release plan.
Even though we’ll see it before any new Spider-Man project, it’s likely that there’s going to be a large contingency of people who will hope that Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot will fall flat on its face. The logic being that since The Amazing Spider-Man films sucked, and Marvel has at least gotten some control back of Spider-Man as a result, if Fantastic Four sucks, the same thing could happen. Somehow, I don’t see that being the case, given that Fox and Sony are far different studios, and also because Spider-Man is a far bigger property than Fantastic Four, but that’s not going to matter to the Average Joe. Large contingencies are going to root for it to fail — larger than there would be had this Sony/Marvel deal not happened — just for the small possibility that a similar thing will happen with Fantastic Four.
And it’s true that this deal between Sony and Marvel could very well serve as a harbinger of things to come. If successful, we definitely could see Fox and Marvel strike a similar deal for either Fantastic Four or the X-Men franchise — although I don’t think it’s particularly likely, especially in the case of the latter. But that chance exists, and it exists in a larger degree than it did before this announcement.
If nothing else, the deal between Sony and Marvel to include Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to be an interesting story to follow in the coming months and years, and whatever it results in will surely be more interesting than Sony’s previous plan for the web-slinger, even if it means that we may never see Felicity Jones star as Black Cat. That will truly be one of the great tragedies of our time. Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? That may wind up being one of the great victories in the superhero genre.