It actually happened! Marvel has reacquired and is implementing Spidey into the Marvel Cinematic Universe while Sony maintains creative and, most importantly, financial control of the mint that is the Spider-Man franchise.
The logistics for this one are a no brainer. From the Sony side of things, they had walked into a minefield by announcing an expansive Spidey-verse as they tried to mimic the so popular right now ‘shared universe’. Sadly, they decided to make a DISASTER of Amazing Spider-Man 2 and suddenly, the financial return didn’t seem so assured. On the Marvel side of things, this just makes sense. Spider-Man is far and away the most financially viable comic book property out there, so adding a hero responsible for roughly $4 billion in box office revenue by himself into the financial juggernaut of the MCU is a match made in money making heaven!
What does this mean for fans, though? Firstly, Spider-Man will be felt immediately in the MCU as he is slated to appear in a as of yet unknown Marvel film before getting his own picture in 2017. Smart money is on a Civil War cameo since Spidey played such a pivotal role in the comic book event, making it the perfect jump up off point for the character. On the downside of this immediate entrance, it shifts all of the Phase 3 titles back about 6 months leaving fans of the other characters, like myself with Thor, some more time to wait. Because another rebooted Spider-Man not the epic conclusion to the Thor trilogy was what I secretly wanted, apparently.
The upside of the webhead coming to the MCU is the story possibilities this opens up. Like Civil War, Spider-Man has played a major role in a large number of Marvel’s best storylines over the years, so being able to include him in upcoming adaptations is a huge win for Marvel. Spidey is the proverbial glue in 616, being the moral compass for other heroes as well finding his way into just about every book at one point or another. He’s just a likeable character and that has translated into the blue and red tights making an impact across a bounty of titles. Being able to write him into the unfolding and ever expanding MCU means not having to work around missing your most prolific character and using the most recognizable hero to ground some of the more ‘out there’ characters.
This does lead to some inevitable questions though. The MCU has taken a very pointed turn towards the cosmic portion of their universe, so where does ol’ webhead fit in? When the Mad Titan invades Earth in Infinity War, will he be thwarted by the constant peril of being blinded by webs and surrender after a barrage of taunts and witty retorts from Spidey? Or maybe Parker can go to the Moon and extend an olive branch comprised mainly of banter to the Inhumans when they get introduced. To me, Spider-Man has no place in the current MCU and bringing him in seems more like another misstep for the wallcrawler as opposed to the sound creative choices Marvel has been making.
There’s also questions about Spider-Man himself. With the previous incarnations of the films, what direction can Marvel go that won’t feel stale? The Green Goblin has been exploited to its fullest, the Black Suit was butchered and most of Spidey’s other greatest foes, like Doc Ock and the Lizard, have already been touched on. Sony seems set on moving ahead with a Sinister Six film, so who can Spidey face that will make a splash in the MCU? There’s also the questions of will they cast a famous face or try to bring an unsaddled newcomer to the role? Will they even use Peter Parker or instead opt for Miles Morales, injecting some diversity into the franchise?
In addition to that, leaving Sony in creative charge after the horrible choices they’ve made thus far seems like a bad idea. Marvel works because everyone is on the same page in tone, theme and continuity in the massive MCU. There are no unimportant moving parts in this broad tapestry and to have an outside influence on that doesn’t seem conducive to what’s made Marvel so successful.
On paper, this can’t help but feel like a win though; Sony gets their money, Marvel gets their most prized character and the fans get to see their favourites finally share the big screen. However, how this will look as the future unfolds may be a different story. If we have to endure another retelling of the spider bite or if Sony’s creative control impedes the MCU, this could go wrong very quickly. Whether or not this is the blessing this seems to be is something only time, and the seemingly inevitable Civil War appearance, will be able to tell.