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Disney Reveals The Real Reason Spidey Returned To The MCU

Spider-Man is back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it's all because of... you.

Disney co-chairman Alan Horn and Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman recently took part in a roundtable discussion in which they agreed that if not for pushback from fans, this summer's split — which temporarily saw the wall-crawler ousted from the MCU — might have remained permanent. (via The Hollywood Reporter)

Horn and Rothman were in the same room for perhaps the first time since they last saw each other at the negotiating table, hammering out the finer points of a deal which will allow Tom Holland's Peter Parker to appear in at least one more solo film set in the MCU, as well as one additional, as-yet unnamed Marvel Studios picture. When it was reported in August that Sony and Disney, Marvel's parent company, had failed to reach an agreement to extend their shared custody arrangement of ol' web-head, fan backlash was instant and furious — and this, said Horn,was ultimately what convinced the involved parties to get a deal done.

"The fan base, which is important to all of us, seemed to really respond to what Tom and his folks have done before with our people," Horn explained. "They like the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe and [Marvel Studios head honcho] Kevin Feige were involved [in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home]. We heard feedback out there that suggested that joining forces once again was probably really a good idea."

Horn, apparently, is a master of understatement. Twitter absolutely exploded in the wake of the news, with every single fan (except perhaps the two or three who preferred Sony's Amazing Spider-Man pictures to the MCU Spidey flicks) simply beside themselves with shock and grief.

Holland himself did his best to console them during an appearance at Disney's D23 expo the following weekend, and it may have been during that event that the young star — upon seeing just how much his version of the character meant to Marvel's fans — decided upon a course of action that few in his position would be gutsy enough to take. He picked up the phone and called Disney CEO Bob Iger, one of the most powerful people in the world of entertainment — and told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to get Sony back to the table. Then, he put in a call to Rothman to tell him the same thing.

Improbably, the ploy didn't backfire ridiculously. Holland kept his job, the two sides got back together, a deal was struck, and the fans rejoiced. Spider-Man is back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but now, fans have another question: for how long?

Will Sony and Marvel keep Spider-Man in the MCU after the current deal is up?

Whether the deal will continue after Spidey completes his MCU solo film and team-up appearance is a giant question mark, but given the fact that there are tons and tons of box office bucks to be made by keeping fans happy, we tend to think that it's more likely than not. Of course, the question was put to Rothman during THR's roundtable, and while he didn't enthusiastically answer in the affirmative, he also didn't say no — and it's pretty obvious that he recognizes the value of the partnership.

The query was framed in an odd way, with the interviewer mentioning that Sony has "shown [it] can do Spider-Man without Marvel" by way of the Oscar-winning animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Rothman responded, "Yes, we have. But I agree with [Horn]. This was a classic win-win-win. A win for Sony, a win for Disney, a win for the fans. The only thing I would say is that news cycles and the rhythm of negotiations do not necessarily overlap. And this is, in the words of Shakespeare, a consummation devoutly to be wished. We would have gotten there, and the news got ahead of some things."

There's actually quite a bit to unpack in that statement, not the least of which is Rothman's apparent Shakespeare fandom. It should be noted that Into the Spider-Verse, a fantastic film that deserved its Oscar win, is only one of six Spidey movies fielded by Sony without Marvel's assistance. While the first two movies in the Sam Raimi-directed, Tobey Maguire-starring series (2002's Spider-Man and 2004's Spider-Man 2) are considered classics, 2007's Spider-Man 3 managed to turn off critics, fans, and Raimi himself to the point that a planned fourth installment was summarily scrapped, and the series rebooted.

That reboot series, 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man and 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2, were met with a lukewarm response from fans, as it became clear that Sony had hit a wall with the character. As it turns out, Spider-Man becomes a heck of a lot more interesting when he's got the rest of the heroes of the Marvel universe to bounce off of, which any fan of the comics knows.

It also seems a bit disingenuous of Rothman to suggest that the media got ahead of the negotiations, as all that was being reported (for the most part) was coming directly out of the mouths of the involved parties. In September, Sony CEO Tony Vinciquerra went so far as to say the "door was closed" on Spidey's return to the MCU. "Spider-Man was fine before the event movies, did better with the event movies, and now that we have our own universe, he will play off the other characters as well," Vinciquerra said at the time. "I think we're pretty capable of doing what we have to do here."

That isn't exactly suggestive of Rothman's "consummation devoutly to be wished," and we think it's safe to say that if the fans had been indifferent about Spider-Man's relocation to the Sony Universe of Marvel Characters, the studio would have been perfectly happy to roll the dice with their most valuable property once again. 

But the fan backlash and Holland's timely intervention pushed the studios back together, and now that they're back in business, it seems unlikely that anyone involved will be keen to go through such a trying public ordeal again. Feige has in the past teased his willingness to consider crossing over or even merging Sony's budding cinematic universe with the MCU, because even before the whole kerfuffle, he knew what Iger, Horn, and Rothman had to learn the hard way: Spider-fans like their web-slinger right where he is.

Spidey's as-yet untitled third MCU solo outing hits the big screen on July 16, 2021.