The premiere of Spiderman: No Way Home in Fox Village Theatre on December 13th marked the merger of two bloodlines- the one which grew up with Sony’s Spiderman and the other who is growing up with Marvel’s.
With its appeal pervading across two parallel generations, this cinematic rendition of Stan Lee’s ‘friendly neighborhood’ is a true homage to its recently departed creator.
A multiverse spanning two generations comes together
Marvel fanatics await the US release of Spiderman: No Way Home with bated breath after the nail-biting cliffhanger on which MCU left its fans in the post-credits scene of Spiderman: Far From Home.
The trailer to this 3rd installment of Marvel’s Spiderman: Homecoming franchise only added fuel to an already raging fire. The trailer, released by Sony in August 2021, garnered a whopping 355.5 million views on its very first day. You can watch the trailer here.
This ominous greeting that the trailer begins with has fans squealing with joy as it is no secret that a superhero movie is only as good as its villains. With Spiderman: No Way Home, Marvel promises its cult followers a ride of a lifetime with not one, not two, not even three, but five of the most epic villains our friendly neighborhood has battled across the Sony and Marvel renditions of the characters. This nostalgic crossover of Sony’s villains has provided Spiderman: No Way Home with an even more considerable mass appeal sprawling the multiverse (pun intended) of Sony and Marvel fans.
‘Avengers? Is that a band?!’
Marvel seems to be as excited as its fans with the concept of the parallel universes, as is evident from the way it draws parallels with Sony’s rendition of the character and its previous movies. Similarities with the realities of Sony’s two Spidermen enacted by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield are interspersed with Marvel’s quirky self-deprecating humor that is bound to take viewers for a walk down the Sony and Marvel memory lane.
While ‘great power brings great responsibility,’ it also comes with an excellent cost for Marvel’s Spiderman. This tie-up of the Marvel and Sony Spidermen is bittersweet, with some finally getting a chance to battle old inner demons, and some win the battle but lose the war.
Spiderman: No Way Home may well bag the next Academy Awards nomination for Marvel after Doctor Strange (2017) with its scintillating special effects.
Now that I think of it, what makes a superhero movie even better is an antihero. While the previous installments in the Spiderman: Homecoming series featured extremely well-structured villains, the crossover of the zealous J. Jonah Jameson from Daily Bugle added the much-needed cherry on top of the ‘Marvel’ous cake.
‘I’ve always wanted brothers..’
Speaking of cakes, what absolutely takes it hands down, is the lighthearted banter between the three Spidermen. From ‘black space goo‘ to the ‘purple alien from space’; from the mechanics of their web-shooters to their ‘lower back situation,’ Marvel uses this quirky chit-chat to tie in all the loose ends dangling across Spiderman’s multiverse of Sony and itself.
All in all, Marvel’s done it yet again. The stakes were high enough after Avengers: Endgame and Marvel stacked them even higher by taking on the onus of expectations from the Sony rendition of the character. But Marvel has managed to win hearts across all of Spiderman’s real-life parallel universes with seasoned finesse and panache.
Infinity War over Spiderman rights
While the on-screen crossover for Sony’s Spidermen into the MCU was as easy as jumping through one of Dr. Strange’s portals, the actual life procedure was fraught with legal hassles.
Did you know there are two different Spider-Men right now from two other companies existing simultaneously? And that, technically, is allowed and OK? Welcome to the real-life Spiderman multiverse.
The rights to Marvel superheroes are a confusing situation. Disney has the rights to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but not totally. Universal has the theme park rights to the Marvel comic characters in Orlando and a deal with Disney not to produce any Marvel theme park content too close to their parks. Sony still has some of the rights to Spider-Man. Do you need coffee for your headache?
This real-life Spiderman saga began when Marvel, eager to get Spiderman on the silver screen, sold the rights to Sony in 1998. The deal between Marvel Entertainment Group and Sony implied that Sony could produce as many Spider-Man films as they wanted. Sony got the film and merchandise rights, while Marvel kept the comics rights. Under this agreement, Marvel continued to produce comics, and Sony brought us the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films.
The deal also stipulates that Sony keeps the rights to Spider-Man as long as they continue to produce a Spider-Man movie at least every five years — which they’ve done so far and therefore still possess the rights. If Sony were to miss this window, the rights would revert to Marvel.
Disney enters the fray
Disney’s involvement came when the Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Entertainment for approximately $4 billion in 2009, as per reports by CNN. Disney now owning Marvel meant they had the comic rights to Spider-Man, but Sony still had the rights to merchandising and film.
The Marvel-Sony deal changed in 2011 when Sony sold the merchandising rights of Spider-Man back to Marvel (and therefore Disney), while the company was dealing with significant financial losses, according to Variety. It stands now that Marvel (Disney) owns the comics and merchandise rights, and Sony still has those film rights.
Marvel longs for Spiderman’s Homecoming.
As the MCU continued to flourish with hits over at Disney, Marvel’s head producer Kevin Feige hoped to get Spider-Man into Marvel films somehow. Spider-Man is an ultra recognizable character in Marvel and Disney wanted to get one of the cornerstones of the Marvel brand into their movies.
Sony and Disney agreed to team up on the Spider-Man film rights. Sony was unhappy with the response to The Amazing Spider-Man franchise (AKA the Andrew Garfield ones), and the company needed a big franchise to boost. The deal got Disney to use Spider-Man in their films while Sony got Kevin Feige’s involvement and the leverage of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at Disney.
Sony and Disney: Trouble in legal paradise
Sony stepped in to throw a wrench in an already complicated deal. In August 2019, Deadline reported that a halt in communication between Disney and Sony had ended Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige’s involvement in Spider-Man. According to Deadline’s sources, the disagreement happened due to money issues.
Deadline said of Feige’s exit, “Sony will have to try to win a championship without Michael Jordan.”
Of the split, Feige said, “It was never meant to last forever. We knew there was a finite amount of time that we’d be able to do this, and we told the story we wanted to tell, and I’ll always be thankful for that.”
Audiences were super upset about the loss of Spider-Man from the MCU, and Tom Holland spoke out per Entertainment Weekly, saying, “It’s been five amazing years. I’ve had the time of my life. Who knows what the future holds?”
Tom Holland shoulders “the great responsibility that comes with great power.”
Apparently, out of nowhere, CNBC reported in September that Marvel Studios, led by President Kevin Feige, would produce a third film in the Spider-Man: Homecoming series. Yep, we’re talking about none other than Spiderman: No Way Home. CNBC also reported that Spider-Man would appear in one future Marvel Studios film.
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger said that Spider-Man himself, Tom Holland, is to be thanked for the deal. He revealed the actor called him and told him what the character meant to him and his fans. In response, Iger called the head of Sony and said a deal needed to be made. Iger said, “You know what sometimes happens to companies when they are negotiating or people when they’re negotiating with one another, they forget that there are other folks out there who matter, and that was the case here. There’s a whole Parker family out there.”
Feige said, “I am thrilled that Spidey’s journey in the MCU will continue, and I and all of us at Marvel Studios are very excited that we get to keep working on it. Spider-Man is a powerful icon and hero whose story crosses all ages and audiences around the globe. He also happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes. Hence, as Sony continues to develop their Spidey-verse, you never know what surprises the future might hold.”
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