That's right, Monday's news that Sony would let Marvel Studios borrow Spider-Man for their Cinematic Universe in exchange for a wee bit of help making Spidey movies that don't suck, has taken the nerd-o-sphere by storm. You wrote so many letters I was forced to do make all-Spidey special edition of the mailbag. Thwip!


Sharing Is Caring

Jesse S.:

Hello Mr. Postman,

While I am excited as just about anybody regarding the news of Spider-Man joining the MCU, the headline of the press-release did give me pause:

"Sony Pictures Entertainment Brings Marvel Studios Into The Amazing World Of Spider-Man"

Um, shouldn't that be "Sony Pictures Entertainment Brings Spider-Man into Marvel's Cinematic Universe" or something similar? Last I checked Marvel had a shared universe and Spider-Man did not. It sounds a little backward.

So should we be worried that Sony has too much power in this arrangement and will screw everything up?

No, it shouldn't be "Sony Pictures Entertainment Brings Spider-Man into Marvel's Cinematic Universe" because Sony is still in charge of all things Spider-Man/movie related. So yes, you can very much be be worried that Sony has too much power in this arrangement and will screw everything up, because Sony is calling the shots here.

Here's the meaningful part of the press release:

Together, they [Sony and Marvel] will collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films.

See that? Sony gets to call the shots here, for pretty much everything. Marvel is basically assisting Sony in making Spider-Man movies, which could range to anything from offering a bit of advice to writing solo Spidey scripts, handling casting, and even filming the damn movies. But Sony gets to approve everything Spider-Man. They don't like Marvel's ideas for a Sinister Six movie? They can do whatever they want. They don't like what Spider-Man's doing in Captain America: Civil War? Ten Spidey's going to have to go.

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My biggest worry is that Marvel will have to spend so much time jumping through Sony hoops to include Spider-Man in their MCU that it will negatively affect all their other movies and franchises, which would be a damn shame — I'd rather have a Captain Marvel movie than a dozen Spider-Man guest-appearances in Avengers movies, but you probably guessed that. However, if Sony is open-minded/desperate enough to allow this partnership in the first place, then hopefully they'll also actually be willing to let Marvel do what it does best, which is make Marvel movies.


Garfield Hates Mondays

Andre M.:

Dear, Mr. Apocalyptical Postman.

I bet you heard the news, we've got a Spider-Man as part of the MCU!

I'll bet almost ALL the questions you'll have this week will be about how Spidey will be placed in Civil War and Avengers and the movie schedule from now on, but the thing that is bugging me (sorry) the most is Andrew Garfield.

The last two Spidey movies were not that great, but his blend of the Parker/Spider-Man personality was FAR better than Tobey. Besides, he's an accomplished actor, the kind of actor that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the other Marvel actors.

My question is: What does Marvel gain by re-casting Spider-Man? A younger Spider-Man? This means we're getting ANOTHER origin movie? And why would Sony be onboard with this, since it invalidates their whole game?

1) "What does Marvel gain by re-casting Spider-Man?"

Marvel doesn't want the MCU affiliated with Sony's Amazing Spider-Man movies. They weren't very good and, despite the fact they make millions, they made so many less millions that they were considered failures large enough to force Sony to partner with Marvel. Sony doesn't want its future Spider-Man movies associated with the Amazing series either. A new actor for a new Peter Parker for a new Spider-Man who happens to be a new part of the MCU. A fresh start. A Brand New Day, if you will.

2) "This means we're getting ANOTHER origin movie?"

Probably not. Even if Sony is dumb enough to think that they could make a third Spidey origin movie in 13 years — and even I'm not sure anyone there is that dumb — Marvel is smart enough not to. As proof, remember that the new Spider-Man will debut in Captain America: Civil War, which can't possibly accommodate the origin without completely hijacking the film's narrative. My guess is he'll show up in Civil War, after he's been around but before he formally meets the Avengers, and in Sony's first Spidey movie, they'll do a quick recap of his origin at the beginning for the two people on Earth left who don't know what Peter Parker's deal is.

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3) "And why would Sony be onboard with this, since it invalidates their whole game?"

As mentioned above, they want their whole game obliterated. They want the Amazing movies wiped from the slate. They did not do as well playing the game last time, so they partnered with the best gameplayer they could find and started a new one.


Miles To Go

Mike F.:

Dear Postman from the future,

Now that Marvel and Sony are working together on Spider-Man, is there any chance that the MCU introduces Miles Morales as either the primary Spidey or as an heir to the webshooters? I would have been the first to say "no chance" with just Sony in charge, but now we have creative influence from the studio that was willing to take a shot on GotG, a film with virtually unknown main characters before it hit theaters.

Related question, is there any reason at all that even if they go with the third version of Peter Parker in a span of less than 15 years, that version has to be a white guy? I can't think of a reason that Peter's ethnicity is incredibly important to the character, so long as his relationship with his aunt, uncle and New York City remain intact.

As we and many people have discussed, there is nothing about Spider-Man that requires him to be a white dude. In fact, there are a few excellent strong arguments against it! Not to mention a bevy of excellent, non-white actors who play the role.

Those facts aside, I wish I could see a scenario where both Marvel and Sony put diversity ahead of trying to placate the white audiences who can't imagine empathizing with a human being who isn't Caucasian (let alone buying merchandise with him on it) and decide to put Miles Morales on-screen, but I just can't. Sony is way too large and monolithic a company to want to rock the boat of one of its most potentially profitable properties. Although to be fair, Marvel doesn't want to either — I mean, they're happy to have Miles Morales as a character, but it's not like he replaced the real Peter Parker in the real Marvel universe. If Marvel doesn't have the guts to do this in the comics, neither Marvel nor Sony will be willing to make this bold, wonderful decision for the movies.


One More Day at a Time

TJ:

Why is Marvel so determined to put Spider-Man in the Civil War movie? As the Twitter of a bitter writer here in the early 21st century pointed out, the only notable thing about Spider-Man's role in the Civil Wars comic is that he unmasked, which led directly to Spider-Man selling his marriage to Mephisto and the One More Day storyline. Which was terrible. Is Marvel going try and make Sony make a movie about One More Day? Is this some secret trick into making Sony's Spider-Man movies bomb so bad that Sony is forced to give them Spider-Man back?

That unnamed writer sounds like a smart dude, because I, too, am having a hard time imagining what Spider-Man is going to be doing in the Civil War movie.

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If Spider-Man is not going to unmask, then really, he's just a character caught in the middle of Captain America and Iron Man's fight, and that role could be served by any number of Marvel heroes. Yet Marvel has been hellbent to get his character in the movie — they've been semi-publicly been trying to work with Sony for god knows how long for this exact thing — but the only thing Spider-Man brings that other characters don't is his unmasking moment as part of Iron Man's pro-registration side. Which is a terrible idea for the character, both in the Marvel universe and in the real world.

I can't imagine that Marvel has some sort of nefarious game plan to trick Sony into making an awful Spider-Man movie — partially because if Spidey joins the MCU they have a vested interest in keeping the character popular and successful, and partially because Sony was doing a fine job screwing up Spider-Man by themselves — and it seems almost impossible that anyone at Marvel Studios thinks bringing the Spidey story fans have most loathed since the Clone Saga to theaters is a good idea.

Note: "almost" is not "completely." Look, I don't think this will really happen, but I am still deeply suspicious of why Marvel is so determined to get Spider-Man in the Civil War movie as opposed to anything else.


Arachnophilia

Dan F.:

So I'm sure you've already had a million emails about this already (or found them in a radioactive bunker), but what impact is the new Spidey deal likely have on the rest of the MCU?

Even if Marvel (hopefully) choose to have Spidey be a fairly new presence and not to heavily retcon him into the MCU, will we still be seeing Oscorp on Agents of S.H.I.E.LD? Can Jessica Drew now turn up on A.K.A. Jessica Jones?

Or is it simply Sony saying "You get a Spidey-only cameo in Civil War and the rest stays with us"?

Sony wouldn't have made this major move for a single Age of Ultron cameo. The benefit of adding Spider-Man to the MCU is to capitalize on Marvel's heat and quality (and marketing), so restricting his appearances to Civil War makes now sense. Also, remember that any time Spider-Man appears in a Marvel Studios movie, Sony is going to get a cut, and these movies make a lot of money. Sony may object to what Spider-Man can do in these films, but they won't mind him showing up.

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But the question about the supporting Spider-cast is a good one. I think you'll see plenty of Easter eggs getting scattered throughout both studios films; Marvel won't have to cut a check to Sony if they put an Oscorp building in the skyline. But Agents of SHIELD may be another matter, mainly because TV is such small potatoes compared to these movies. Basically, the show might be able to include some Easter eggs like an Oscorp building as well, but I wouldn't expect the show to do anything the movies don't do first.

There is one possible exception, and that's for the Spider-characters who Sony never had any intention of making a movie about, namely Jessica Drew. Oh, there are probably a few others, but Sony has never wanted to have Spider-Woman compete with Spider-Man, so I can see them giving the character back to Marvel — likely for TV only, no movies — as a show of good faith. But only because they have no intention of using her anyways.


Might Makes Rights

Derek P.:

Hey Postman,

Everyone is very excited about the Marvel/Sony agreement/team-up/unholy matrimony or whatever the deal is, and what it means to the current slate of films. But I'm far more interested in the long game, is this a stepping stone or part of a larger deal for Marvel to reclaim the rights? I know it would take a LOT for Sony to give up those rights, but if Marvel said: We'll help you for X number of films, and then the rights revert back to us, would Sony go for something like that? The spidey films make great money now, but they're costing more and making less as time goes on. Does Sony see the writing on the wall enough for them to look at giving back the rights?

Sony has no reason to give up the rights. At all. Sony owns the entirety of the Spider-Man movie license, so they get to dictate the terms, and there's absolutely nothing to gain by ever allowing Marvel a chance to get them back. Per the contract Sony signed with Marvel in the late '90s, as long as Sony keeps making Spider-Man movies with a certain frequency, so the only way Marvel could ever get the rights back to the character would be either through legally trickery or perhaps a deal with Mephisto.

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Also, Sony sees Spider-Man as a gold mine. Maybe they haven't been mining it efficiently with the Amazing movies, but they know there's a ton of money to be made making Spider-Man films if they can just do them properly. And since they seem to be having trouble on their own, they've called in Marvel to help, believing the increased profits will more than make up for the nominal fees they'll have to pay Marvel Studios.

All that said, the fact that Marvel and Sony are partnering here means two things: 1) they're establishing a relationship, which Marvel can potentially use to buy back the Spider-Man rights down the line, and 2) nothing is impossible. I still think it'll take some serious financial woes for Sony to be forced to sell the rights to this gold mine (even if they don't always know how to mine it properly), but if anyone can figure out how to leverage what seems to be pleasant cooperation into a hostile character reclamation, I imagine Disney's army of lawyers can.


Superior To Nothing

Clay:

Dear Postman,

This is it. This is finally it, I am so excited. I don't care about Spidey origins anymore; how much longer do I have to wait to get my Superior Spider-Man movie with Otto Octavius being a huge jerk opposite the Avengers?

Probably forever. Maybe in 15, 20 years Marvel and Sony will feel comfortable enough with the Spider-Man movie franchise that they'd allow something as weird as a Spider-Man movie where Doc Ock's mind is in Spidey's body, but I doubt it. I imagine we'll get a franchise reboot or two before Sony feels that Superior is the best plot they have available to them.

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But then again, Marvel seems to be hot to trot to get versions of its more recent storylines in the movies, so maybe I'll be proven wrong. But I'd guess we'll see a Spider-Verse movie well before we get Superior Spider-Man on movie screens.


Spider-Sense Tingling

Pablo T.:

Greetings, Mr Mailman from the dystopian future.

Anyway, with the announcement on Monday that Sony would let Marvel Studios play with Spider-Man, and with all the fandom screaming in tears of joy, i start wondering why i wasn't excited about this huge deal? Why i can't cry happiness like everyone else? Why I have a bad feeling about this? It is just me?

Do we really need to get Spidey on the MCU? Cause the more i think of it, it becomes more clear that Spidey doesn't add something new or something that is missing on the MCU, I mean, I fucking love Peter Parker, it's my favourite fictional character, but at the end of the day its just another white male superhero.

Why don't they use a lesser-known character and give him a well deserved boost, like they did with Guardians of the Galaxy? Nova (sam alexander) would be amazing, the new Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes, its also a great example, Kamala Khan, would be GREEEEEAT, although it would tricky to pull her off since her origins are strongly tied to Carol Danvers. I'd be more excited to see any of those characters make the jump to the silver screen, they add diversity to the MCU, something that it is lacking and that i want to see, Also, something that really bothers me, they push the whole slate of the Phase 3 back! Now i have to wait even more to see Black Panther and Captain Marvel kick butts all over the MCU.

Finally, even if the new spidey movie its in the MCU, Its still Sony's Spider-man, they have the last word. Marvel can make this amazing script that defines the character like no other movie before has, but if Sony reads it and says "You know what its missing? More skateboard...and product placement, like, a looooot more of those. Also let's throw more villains in there, like, one is not enough, and you know what? Lets make Peter a DJ, you know, to connect with young audiences" Marvel is contractually obligated to do it, cause you know, SONY HAS THE LAST WORD. I just hope J. K. Simmons comes back.

So tell me, my dear Postman, It is just me or am I being really paranoid? Is there some true in my words? Or I'm just picturing this a lot worse that what it could actually turn out? What do you think?

First of all, I want to mention that Pablo here also apologized for his bad English, as it's not his native language. I mention this because Pablo and anyone else who writes in from non-English-speaking lands should never apologize, because not only are you writing in a second language better than at least 95% of English speakers probably could, you're probably writing English at least as well as I am. Just a reminder that I respect the hell out of anyone who writes me in their non-native tongue.

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Second of all, holy shit, are we related? Because you've nailed a lot of the exact problems and concerns I have with this deal. Yes, Sony is in charge of everything Spider-Man, and while they may not be able to force Spidey to slam a Mountain Dew Kickstart beverage while doing a wicked olllie on his skateboard in a Marvel movie, they can refuse to let Marvel use Spidey unless they agree to such a scene. Every time Marvel wants to include Spider-Man in an MCU movie, they have to get Sony's complete approval, and it will be very easy for Sony to screw up Marvel's production schedules, even inadvertently.

And goddammit, I don't want to wait any longer for my Captain Marvel movie. I would rather have no Spider-Man in the MCU than have Carol Danvers' debut pushed back a year or two. I would much rather have some diversity added to the MCU in particular and the superhero movie genre in particular. Admittedly, it's not like this is an either/or situation — Marvel isn't torpedoing the Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies for the partial acquisition of Spider-Man, just delaying them a bit — but given the lack of diversity in the MCU, even this small delay for yet another white superhero, no matter how popular, is kind of a bummer. Especially when, as you've noted, Marvel has a lot of great, diverse characters they could be adding to the movies instead, including one who is also Spider-Man.

I'm not sure this deal is definitely going to be a bad thing in the long run, but I do worry for the exact reasons you are. If you're paranoid, then I am too. I will say this, though: bringing JK Simmons to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as J. Jonah Jameson would go a long way into making me feel better about this entire thing.

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Okay, folks! That's it for the Spider-Mail Palooza, but feel free to keep sending question of the matter, and I'll answer at least some of 'em next week (hopefully along with a fictional character genitalia question or two. You know, just to break it up).


Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the postman@io9.com! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!