We’ve all heard the news about tension and failed negotiations between Marvel and Sony. The two companies cannot come to an agreement about producing credit and profit splitting. As of now, Sony retains the film rights. Unless Marvel and Sony reach an agreement, Spider-Man is out of the MCU. This raises the serious question: Can Spider-Man survive without the MCU?
I am not talking about whether Sony can pull of a Spider-Man movie without the MCU. We have already seen that it’s possible with Into the Spiderverse and Venom. What I am talking about is: can Tom Holland’s Spider-Man have a storyline that stands without the MCU?
[Minor spoilers ahead for Spider-Man: Homecoming and Captain America: Civil War, and MAJOR spoiler for Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home.]
Because of the way Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has been set up, he is fully entrenched in the Avengers. He was introduced into the MCU with through Civil War with Tony Stark. Then, in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker learns what it means to be a hero and an Avenger. Later, he became involved in Civil War and Infinity War and Endgame. After seeing Spidey disappear with the snap, or as it has affectionately been renamed “the blip,” we saw a Spider-Man-less world. Then, he came back stronger than ever in Endgame–that is until Tony Stark died in front of him. With Tony Stark dying, Spider-Man was left with the question of what it meant for his position in the Avengers. The WHOLE of Spider-Man: Far From Home was one big thrust to make Spider-Man the next Tony Stark. Stark even left him EDITH, knowing that Peter Parker would step up in the Avengers.
That is where the conflict comes in. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker has not had a single film separated from the characters of the MCU. His character arch has centered around Tony Stark and the Avengers. They set him up to be central to the post-Captain America (Steve Rogers), post-Iron Man, post-Black Widow, post-Thor (Asgardian man Thor) Marvel world. The passing of the gauntlet while fighting Thanos in Endgame indicated that Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and Black Panther would be the future of the Avengers.
If Sony and Marvel lose their partnership, Sony will not be able to mention any Marvel characters, the MCU storyline, or the Avengers. Bye bye Tony Stark, Happy Hogen, EDITH, and “the blip.”
How will Sony be able to recover from this rift? Tom Holland still has one stand-alone film on contract and a second one slated to occur.
After an Avengers-central plotline, the only option Sony would have is to completely drop any mention of the MCU. It is ridiculous to imagine this though because of how the story arch is set up. Maybe they can use the post-credits reveal to the world that Spider-Man is Peter Parker to explain him having to lay low. They could potentially use that to disconnect him from the Avengers and make him just a Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. The biggest problem with them going this direction is that they wouldn’t even be able to mention Spider-Man’s previous story arch. There is no storyline I can foresee them pursuing which would be successful unless they decided to reboot Spider-Man *again*.
I guess the only way we will know is to wait and see.
Hopefully, Marvel and Sony will be able to reach an agreement; in the mean time, I will remain skeptical about the future of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man.