Does the Marvel Cinematic Universe Need Spider-Man?February 27, 2015
Marvel Studios can do no wrong; or at least it seems that way. After all, since the debut of Iron Man in 2008, the studio has produced some of the most successful (and fun) comic book movies of all time, so uber-producer, and Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige, clearly knows what he’s doing.
It’s because of this success that many fans were excited by the recent announcement that Feige and the team at Marvel would be partnering with Sony to produce new films for Sony’s flagging Spider-Man franchise. Since Sony will “finance, distribute, own, and have final creative of control of the Spider-Man films,” Marvel’s benefit for producing is that they get the rights to include Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Having access to the webhead had drastically altered Marvel’s movie plans and they’ve shifted a number of their release dates. Thor: Ragnarok will hit theatres November 3, 2017 [Thor vacates July 28th, 2017, to give room for the first Marvel/Sony Spider-Man feature, which is scheduled for the same date]. Black Panther moves to July 6th, 2018, Captain Marvel to November 2, 2018, and finally, Inhumans debuts on July 12, 2019. For Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Inhumans, this means a roughly six month delay in each of their respective release dates.
But all these announcements have our Spidey senses tingling: is Spider-man worth it?
There’s no doubt that Spider-Man is one of the most iconic Marvel comic book characters and played a huge role in the Civil War story set to hit the screen with the next Captain America movie, but let’s face it, Spider-Man’s last two films weren’t exactly what audiences wanted, and we can’t help but wonder if their disinterest in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will affect the MCU.
Obviously, there’s no question that with or without Spider-Man, the upcoming films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are going to make boatloads of money. If Kevin Feige produced it, a movie about The Walrus would be a hit.
The only question is whether or not the overall narrative suffers by Spidey’s inclusion. For example, if a film about Black Panther was included to serve a specific narrative need that no longer exists because of Spider-Man, does the Black Panther film suffer?
It’s impossible to say because only the team at Marvel knows the purpose of each film in driving their cinematic universe.
It’s important to mention that there’s a possibility we may see Marvel characters appear in future Spider-Man films because “Marvel and Sony Pictures are exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-man films.”
For Sony, this partnership was desperately needed. With flagging interest and declining corporate profits almost across the board, they couldn’t allow their biggest movie franchise to fail. They gain the proven track record of Marvel, and perhaps some boosts from Marvel Cinematic Universe characters going forward.
From the perspective of Marvel, it must have been clear that Sony was never going to allow the rights to the Spider-Man films to lapse. It was only through this type of partnership that Marvel could bring Spidey back into their movie fold.
So everybody wins, right?
Sony gets the support they need to make good Spider-Man movies again (it could be argued there hasn’t been a good Spider-Man film since Alfred Molina stole the show as Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2, now 11 years old), Marvel gets access to one of its most recognizable characters, and fans are excited because they might just see Spidey mixing it up with the Avengers.
But with all their success and years of planning, Marvel’s decision to include Spider-Man could potentially overshadow some of the other characters they’ve chosen to elevate. It’s a bold choice considering they’ll be helping make Spider-Man films which won’t benefit them financially.
Perhaps, hidden deep within the deal, there was a partially altruistic motivation: maybe Marvel was just tired of seeing Spidey not live up to his full potential on the screen, feeling the flagship character deserved better.
There’s no doubt that that having access to Spider-Man has changed Marvel’s plans considerably: plans that were no doubt as majestic as a bald eagle winking at Captain America mid-sunset over an Alaskan mountain range. It’s easy to trust that Kevin Feige will knock the next phase of Marvel films out of the park; but all of his success with Marvel’s films so far means that Spider-Man was the hero that he wanted; not the hero he needed.