OP-ED: About Sony, Disney, And Spider-Man, It’ll Be Okay

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It’s been close to 24-hours since it was announced that Sony and Disney would not continue their partnership that brought Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). For now, it seems, the web-slinger will return entirely to Sony for them to make more movies.

Naturally, the geekosphere lost its collective sh*t. 

Many love the MCU and love that Spider-Man is a part of it. It’s certainly great to see the few remaining major movie studios working together. But sometimes they won’t, and that’s okay too.

You see, people are ignoring a slew of reality in favor of living in their echo chamber of binary thinking. Disney good. Sony bad. Or, as of late, vice versa.

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Sony definitely has been in a bit of a slump making films in recent years. However, let’s not forget how Disney wasn’t all that great just 12 or so years ago. They were sputtering along with terrible Pirates of the Caribbean movies and John Carter or things like The Game Plan. Outside of Pixar, Disney movies were in a death spiral (again). Then they bought a film franchise that was five successful movies deep. And the Mouse House did the smartest thing they could do, they got out of the way of Feige and company.

Yet, for all of Disney’s efforts with Marvel when it comes to the discussion of best comic book movies, you often see one, two, or three of Disney’s MCU there (at best). The Avengers (which was already in production when Disney bought Marvel), Black Panther, and — Insert Most Recent Film Here. Three films out of 23. Quite often, you’ll see Spider-Man 2 on there and in more recent lists, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse. What are two common factors in those last two films? Sony.

It’s also important to keep in mind, if you’re a fan of Spider-Man: Homecoming or Spider-Man: Far From Home, then guess what? Those were co-produced by Sony. So, it’s a Sony film too.

But beyond all that, there’s so much else that’s been forgotten or ignored by the zealots on one side or the other who is simply rushing to commentary without any contemplation.

1. No one actually read about the negotiations. So, a lot of people missed that it was a mutual rejection. Sony offered to keep the same deal going, and Disney asked for more of the share. A lot more. Fifty percent to be in exact when Disney already gets all the merchandising money which is typically 10x what the movie makes. But most headlines would have you believe that “Sony killed the deal.” It’s business, they didn’t agree. Also, this doesn’t mean that Disney and Sony can’t just call each other tomorrow and work things out. It goes back to that binary thinking. On or off when things like this are much more nuanced and fluid.

2. Tom Holland is still Spider-Man. So many of the angry nerds out there say they love the character and want him in the MCU. So, if things stand, the second part of that is done for sure. But the first part, arguably the most crucial part, the character and who is playing it will remain the same. Not to mention, the deal between Sony and Disney extends to one more Spider-Man film. If that movie is a hit, and Holland wants to keep playing the character, then Sony will have to pay him a lot of money. All that is good for the character and the actor.

3. Most people we regard as great visionaries or artists, people like Lucas or Stan Lee, all needed something first: confidence. Talent can be trained and honed, but it cannot happen without an initial bit of confidence. Into the Spider-Verse might’ve been that confidence boost that Sony needed. They’re going to take another shot at live-action Spidey. There’s basically a 50-50 chance we get another Spider-Man 2 or Into the Spider-verse. Do the math. Sony has made six Spider-Man films (not counting the MCU films which they also produced), three are good (Spidey 1, 2, and Spider-verse), and two of those are some of the best made to date.

4. The greatness of comic books and to much the same extent films is the diversity of the voices behind the work. We’ve been through 10 years or one artist (Disney) drawing ALL the books. That’s counter to what comic books are about. Kirby, Lee, and company created Spider-Man, but Todd MacFarlane drew the character decades later in a way that took things to a new level. That’s comics. That used to be movies. But we’re quickly moving into a world of one voice for these characters who were otherwise born out of diversity. Maybe Sony will make a terrible or mediocre film. Maybe Sony and Disney work things out. In an ideal world, they’re both trading off years where they make their version of Spider-Man. Spectacular and The Amazing and Web Of if you catch my drift.

5. Sony worked with Marvel on the most recent live-action Spider-Man films. Far From Home became Sony’s biggest film ever. And it’s less to do with the MCU and more to do with the fact that Spider-Man, like Batman and Superman, is as close as you can get to a guaranteed hit in film. These characters are beloved by generations. They rarely, if ever, lose money outright or in a massive way.  Case in point, if adjusted for inflation, the maligned Spider-Man 3 still made more money (domestically) than any of the MCU Spidey films. But the real point here is, Sony may have learned (A LOT) from the partnership.

6. The possibilities. Sony recently bought Insomniac games which made the insanely awesome Spider-Man game for PS4. What if Sony is gearing up to make a new Spider-Man movie that’s also a Bandersnatch type game? The movie has a main version that is shown in theaters but then the BluRay has a game mode that lets you make decisions? That would be a step toward a future where games and movies blend in a seamless way that allows traditional viewers to enjoy it passively and gamers to enjoy the story actively. Also, it’s something Disney would have trouble doing because they don’t have the gaming expertise of Sony.

7. Perhaps this is the only real point that matters. All we’re seeing may simply be a form of “public negotiation.” Both sides putting the feelers out there to get the fans on one side or another. In fact, as fans we have an opportunity to shape this thing by pushing both sides towards a compromise.

So, OMG, STFU about Spider-Man, Sony, and Disney. One way or another, it’ll be okay. For MCU fans, it may be the best possible thing that happens. If Sony fails, Disney will buy them and own everything and we never get any other version of any of these characters. Hooray! I think?

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Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.

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