Opinion: The fight for the web-slinging hero is resolved; Disney waves a white flag


After much heated debate and public outcry, Sony Pictures and Walt Disney reach a deal to continue Spider-Man movie partnership. (Credit to Marvel Studios)

A few months ago, a disagreement between Disney and Sony Pictures occurred over a certain superhero; the fight seems to be leaning in Disney’s favor as they have expanded the character in the Marvel films.

Fan-favorite Spider-Man is being pulled around like a rope in a game of tug-of-war in this custody battle between Disney and Sony Pictures. Like most disputes, this quarrel started over money. After seeing how much money the Spider-Man movies brought in with their involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)—roughly $2 billion combined with both solo movies—Sony decided that they wanted him back. Spider-Man, currently played by actor Tom Holland, has been through three remakes and remains one of the most beloved superheroes in the movie business. After viewing the father-son interactions between Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Holland’s Spider-Man, many Marvel fans have grown attached to the slightly awkward but likeable Spider-Man they have seen on screen. Now, imagine the horror and devastation Spidey fans felt when they heard he would be taken out of the MCU, especially after he was turned to dust in “Avengers: Infinity War.”

The first deal struck between Sony and Marvel Studios was in 2015, which allowed Spider-Man to be portrayed in several Disney movies such as “Captain America: Civil War,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Avengers: Endgame.” However, Sony was still in control of the financing and distribution of the content. Tom Holland starred in two solo movies that were produced by Marvel, but owned by Sony. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Sony released a statement on Aug. 20, 2019, that expressed their disappointment over Disney’s demand for greater shares of the movies and announced Sony’s split with Disney. Soon after this statement was released, actor Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye in several of the Avengers movies, posted on Instagram saying, “Hey @sonypictures we want Spider-Man back to @therealstanlee and @marvel please, thank you.” This statement perfectly encapsulates how this corporate fight has caused outrage  both inside and outside of Marvel Studios.

However, the fighting was far from over, and Sony was getting the bigger part of the blame from the press than Disney. The head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, expressed his sadness over potentially losing the rights for Spider-Man in the MCU, but also looked on the bright side. He told Entertainment Weekly, “It was a dream that I never thought would happen. It was never meant to last forever.” Tom Holland also added, “The future of Spider-Man will be different, but it will be equally as awesome and amazing, and we’ll find new ways to make it even cooler.” 

Thankfully this didn’t come to pass, as Peter Parker swung in to save the day, as always. Holland gave a heartwarming message to his fans that spurred an uprising. “It’s been a crazy week, but I want to let you know I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart. I love you 3,000,” said Holland, which inadvertently rallied MCU and Spidey fans to take to Twitter and make the hashtag SaveSpiderMan go viral. Finally, on Sept. 27, Sony and Disney announced that Spider-Man would star in one more Marvel film, most likely Avengers 5 or another upcoming film. This news also confirmed that there will be several more solo movies made with Tom Holland as the beloved web-shooting hero. 

Disney and Sony’s reconciliation prompted actor Ben Mendelsohn to tell Metro News, “Boy, I could name 30 [characters] that you could quite comfortably lose before you start thinking about losing Spider-Man. In fact, I cannot think of a single character who’s more important to Marvel than Spider-Man. You’ve got Hulk, you’ve got Thor…none of them are as important as Spider-Man. None of them.” And Mendelsohn knows Spider-Man well, having appeared as Talos the Skrull in “Spider-Man: Far From Home” after debuting in “Captain Marvel.”

So with all this, it is obvious that losing our dear Spider-Man would hurt everyone, including Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie who “hate” Holland with a passion. “We love you, little Tom,” said Mackie in a Variety interview alongside Stan, pointing to his heart. Here’s a toast to Disney, for pushing for a new deal and saving Spider-Man from being removed from the Marvel Universe forever.

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