Recently, a lot of movie sites and rumour forums have plastered their front pages with titles like ‘Marvel wants Spider-man’, ‘Spider-man in Civil War?’ or ‘Sony and Marvel talk about new Spider-man trilogy’. This is of course pertaining to Marvel once again supposedly enquiring to Sony about a possible joint Spider-man ownership and thus joint character usage. Creative control, profit splitting and separate universe aside, I want to ask: Does Marvel really need Spider-man?
The first answer is no, of course they don’t need him. Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion. That is the exact same amount Disney paid for Star Wars. Essentially what that tells us is, logistically, Star Wars is worth the same amount of profit and revenue as Marvel and that is mind-boggling considering Star Wars’ devout fan base and legacy compared to Marvel’s recent cinematic success coming to the fore following 2008’s Iron Man.
They don’t need Spider-man to make money anymore than they already do. Marvel made over $700 million on a movie starring Chris Pratt, Batista, a walking tree and a talking raccoon for god’s sake. They don’t need Spider-man anymore.
The second answer is ‘why on earth would they want him?’ Following the audience splitting but solid Amazing Spider-man, which I actually really liked, Sony had big plans for their Spidey universe. There were talks of villain centric pieces, female led spin-offs, brand new characters and even different iterations of the web slinger but all that hit the fan following The Amazing Spider-man 2: Train wreck on Strings.
Marc Webb, the director, isn’t to blame. The writer’s aren’t to blame. It is the studio. There are a whole host of articles, from respected outlets, claiming that creatives involved were sick and tired with the studio execs getting involved with decisions like shoe horning in too many characters and subplots which detracted from the central relationship of Peter and Gwen.
At this very moment in time, following the audience and critic bashing of The Amazing Spider-man 2: Train wreck on Strings, Marvel shouldn’t even want Spider-man. Yes the fans will petition till the cows come home about letting Spidey return home but Marvel can just continue to make a shit load of money from the likes of Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Captain Marvel. Who needs Peter Parker eh?
The third answer is yes; Marvel would like their face back. No matter how popular Iron Man, Thor or Captain America are of come to be, Spider-man will still remain the face of Marvel.
He is their most recognisable character and it must hurt Marvel that they don’t own the cinematic rights to the web slinger.
If they did happen to pry Spider-man from Sony’s inexperienced hands I think you’ll find a brand new trilogy announced and Spidey becoming the face of Marvel – he is after all, if done right, a damn good superhero and alter ego.
And it just so happens that Spider-man is integral to the battle between Iron Man and Captain America in the Civil War arc. Rumours claim that if Marvel don’t get the Spidey for the feature then Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther will essentially fill in all the Spider-man scenes which makes sense as it will set up his own stand alone film.
Often news stories pop and they focus on the wrong angle. This isn’t a case of ‘Can Marvel get Spider-man?’ or ‘Is Spider-man in Civil War?’. This is a case of ‘Does Marvel really need Spider-man?’. The answer, for me, at this very moment in time is a resound no.