Thoughts on the Sony vs. Disney Spider-Man squabble

One of the most prominent superhero news stories from last week was the state of Spider-Man’s film career. Namely, Sony’s pulling Spider-Man out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after a dispute with Disney (the MCU’s owner, as well as the owners of Marvel Comics and Peter Parker himself) over money.

As many fans know, Sony owns the movie rights to the Spider-Man franchise, but has shared Spidey with the MCU films (“Infinity War,” etc.). Apparently, Disney wanted a 50/50 split of Sony’s solo Spider-Man film revenue, instead of the current deal where Disney receivse 5% of Sony’s Spider-Man box office gross.

Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in a ton of online reaction all week. We’ve seen “#SaveSpiderMan” hashtags emerging on Twitter, people siding with one media conglomerate over another (or criticizing both), and so on.

Below’s a summary of my thoughts about the whole Spider-Man brouhaha.

Both conglomerates will be fine

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue
Photo by HenningE (Pixabay / CC0)

The MCU (and Disney) will be fine without Spidey. They built up a billion-dollar film series, not to mention the most popular superhero franchise of the past decade, on characters who were once bottom-of-the-A-listers at best (Iron Man, Captain America, the Avengers, etc.).

Sony will be, well, Sony. But on their side, at least they have “Venom” and “Spider-Verse” as successes to build on.

Disney’s already huge (and Sony’s even bigger)

Disney’s excessively large as it is, and even moreso now that they own Fox’s assets. If anything, they should own way fewer properties, not more. (Same goes for AT&T/WarnerMedia, CBS/Viacom, and Comcast/NBCUniversal.)

No, Disney won’t be buying Sony just for one franchise they don’t really need. (Apparently some online have actually proposed such.) Also, Sony Entertainment is a part of the bigger Sony conglomerate, including Sony’s famous electronics division. According to Wikipedia, Sony’s assets (at about ¥21 trillion, or $198.1 billion) are about twice the size of Disney’s (at about $99 billion).

Spider-Man should be public domain by now

There’s the irony that if not for Disney lobbying for ludicrously long copyright laws, Spider-Man would’ve entered public domain this year. Meaning anyone (Sony, Disney, Warner Bros., myself) could create and sell a Spider-Man story.

We still have the comics

As others have said, the comics do still exist for those who want to see Spidey interact with the Marvel Universe at large. Of course, for multiple justifiable reasons, the general public aren’t interested in standard superhero comics, and that won’t change anytime soon.

Spidey also still interacts with the Avengers in video games and various TV cartoons. Unless Marvel pulls a “Fantastic Four”/”X-Men” and de-emphasizes Spidey.

The MCU is getting Ms. Marvel

The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1
Art by Eduard Petrovich.

Disney announced at their biannual D23 expo last week that Kamala Khan (the superhero known as Ms. Marvel) will get her own TV show on Disney+, plus an appearance in a future MCU movie. Kamala is not only a rising star, she’s also a young teenage superhero who adds a more diverse face to the Marvel Universe.

Conclusion

Despite all of the above, I’m not that into the live-action Spider-Man films. I still haven’t seen “Homecoming” or “Far From Home”; I also  wasn’t too big on what I saw of Spidey in the “Avengers” films. Going further back, I only saw “Amazing Spider-Man 2” because Electro was in it (yes, I know).

Fortunately, none of this should affect future plans for more “Spider-Verse” films and spin-offs, which I do care about.

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