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The Russo Brothers Break Their Silence On Spider-Man Leaving The MCU

Spider-Man is headed back to Sony, and the guys who helped bring him into the Marvel Cinematic Universe are disappointed — but not surprised.

During a recent conversation with The Daily Beast, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo shared their thoughts on the web-slinger's unceremonious exit from the biggest film franchise in history. The pair related that while they and Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige had been absolutely driven to bring Spidey into their universe, the shared custody deal with Sony was an extremely difficult one to get done — so difficult that negotiations to extend it falling apart didn't register to them as being terribly surprising.

Peter Parker appeared in the MCU for the first time in the Russo Brothers' second Marvel flick: Captain America: Civil War. From the beginning of the project's development, the directors — along with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely — were adamant that the story should include Spider-Man, despite the obvious stumbling block of Sony holding the film rights.

"We were extremely passionate about it. This is something we really wanted to happen, and fought a long time internally at Marvel to make it happen," Anthony Russo said. 

There were, of course, contingencies in the very likely event that a deal wouldn't be struck. Black Panther, who was also introduced in Civil War, would have had his role greatly expanded in the event that Spidey couldn't come out to play, and several other narrative elements would have been different (or absent) as well. The movie's script went through several iterations as all of the involved parties were attempting to reach an agreement, and poor Feige was right in the middle of it all, attempting to juggle the creative and business sides of his job in a way that he hadn't been asked to do prior.

"Kevin went through a lot," Joe Russo explained. "There were a lot of ups and downs, and he kept walking into our office and we'd go, 'Look, we've got to do it with [Sony],' and he'd go, 'OK, I'll figure it out,' and walk back into his. He was looking for the way out. He wanted to open that door and have us go, 'We figured it out! We don't need Spider-Man!' because it's a lot of work to get two major corporations to play nice with each other, and the fact that it happened at all, we should all be dancing and celebrating that we got that little bit of time."

Anthony Russo agreed, saying, "I think that's why Joe and I are not so devastated or surprised that there's been a falling out, because it was so hard to make it happen in the first place."

The Russos make an excellent point; the fact that we got two solo and three team-up adventures featuring Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in itself a minor miracle. But this doesn't do much to ease the broken hearts of the franchise's fans, who had wanted Tom Holland's Peter Parker to stick around for just a little longer — ten years, perhaps, or twenty.

For that matter, many of those fans are still in denial over the whole situation (and we're not ashamed to admit that we've hung out in that camp), trying to keep hope alive amid harsh public statements by Marvel stars and rumors that the two corporations are still trying to hammer out a deal. 

The matter, though, appears to have been settled. Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra threw cold water on any remaining dreams fans might have with remarks he recently made at Variety's Entertainment and Technology Summit, saying that the "door is closed" on Spider-Man returning to the MCU (although he couldn't resist adding "for now"). Vinciquerra also expressed the extremely optimistic view that Spider-Man will do "just fine" in the Sony Universe of Marvel Characters, without help from Marvel Studios. Because, sure! Who needs the Avengers when you have Morbius and Silver Sable?

Okay, to be fair, Venom did do pretty darn well at the box office, although it got nowhere near the critical love that even the worst-received MCU films have. We suppose it'll be cool to see Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock and Holland's Peter Parker squaring off, but let's face facts: after the debacle that was the rebooted Amazing Spider-Man series, it was obvious that Sony had completely lost its way with Spidey. The MCU resurrected his box office fortunes, giving Sony Pictures (which reaped all the profits from web-head's MCU-set solo adventures) not only its top-performing Spider-Man film, but the highest-grossing flick in its history with the wall-crawler's MCU swan song, Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Call us hardened skeptics, but we submit that no matter how much fans love Holland, his next onscreen appearance in the SUMC is in no way going to light a fire under their butts like his MCU turns did. There's still time for Sony to come to its senses and invite Mighty Marvel back to the bargaining table — but at the moment, it appears that the studio is intent on learning what fans don't want, the hard way. Again.