Late Monday, Disney and Sony Pictures announced that a deal had been reached to finally permit Spider-Man, the most popular Marvel Comics character of all time, to appear in Marvel Studios’ own cinematic universe. The deal overrides an old arrangement made in 1999, before Marvel started making its movies in-house, and allows a sort of joint custody of the wall-crawler between the two studios.
While not all the details have been made public, what we know is that Spider-Man will be subject to yet another reboot, following the mild response to the two new movies starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. The new version of the franchise — complete with a new star and story — will be produced by Marvel’s Kevin Feige and newly minted producer Amy Pascal.
The deal stipulates that Spidey — who could even be the fan-favorite Miles Morales, not Peter Parker — will first appear in a Marvel film, sometime before his first new solo adventure for Sony in July 2017. It’s likely that Spider-Man’s Marvel Cinematic Universe debut will happen in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, which will also heavily feature Iron Man. Spidey played a heavy role in the comics “event,” which was the fight over the Superhero Registration Act; he first sided with Iron Man, who wanted superheroes to register with the government, but then switched over to help Captain America in his fight for civil liberties.
The film goes into production in April, which means a quick rewrite would be required to get Spidey involved — unless the Russo brothers had him in the back of their collective mind in the first place.
It’s unclear whether the MCU continuity and story lines will play a role in Spider-Man’s solo films, though the press release noted that Marvel and Sony will be “exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films.”
So, let’s assume that a few Marvel characters will make cameos in the new Spidey flicks for Sony, which will help sell tickets to yet another reboot of the franchise. But the real question is how Spider-Man fits into the already announced films in Marvel’s Phase 3?
The smart money is that Spider-Man, who has been a frequent member and collaborator with The Avengers, will join up with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for the two-part Infinity Wars films, which will be directed by Captain America: Winter Soldier and Civil War helmers Joe and Anthony Russo. It just so happens that Spider-Man played a role in the comics’ version of Infinity Wars, so that’s a natural fit.
There’s also a chance Spidey could make an appearance in Thor: Ragnarok, which is dated for November 2017, after his first solo film for Sony. But we don’t foresee a Spider-Man presence in Black Panther, which is now dated for a summer 2018 release, in between the two Infinity War films. While Spidey and T’Challa have crossed paths numerous times in the comics, Marvel tends to let the spotlight shine on new heroes in their first stand-alones, and Spider-Man would definitely upstage the Panther.
Further down the line, Spider-Man would likely play a big role in any movie adaptation of the “Secret Wars” story line, which is getting a reboot to shake up sales of the company’s comics (which, yes, are still being printed). Post-Infinity War, which may have a high body count, there could be a new incarnation of the Avengers, in which the web-slinger could figure prominently — especially as the returning heroes become more expensive to re-sign.
Spidey has a fertile comics history to mine, which includes the old Team-Up series, where he was paired with various famous (and lesser) members of the Marvel roster. Marvel could use such a formula to introduce fresh heroes to the big screen.
If fan fiction is taken into consideration, we’d love to see him buddy up with Groot, for what it’s worth.
The beauty of Spider-Man, the reason he has endured, is that he’s Everyhero. Always willing to lend a hand, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man gets along with the other superheroes and is easily adaptable to myriad scenarios. We wouldn’t be the least surprised if he ultimately — and seamlessly — replaced Iron Man as the emotional core of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and became the singular hero binding it together.