If you were paying attention to the internet last night you will have heard the Sony/Marvel deal has now ended. Negotiations apparently broke down and it means Sony is taking back control of Spider-Man, and that means we won't be seeing Tom Holland as Spider-Man in the MCU again. Not anytime soon anyway.
Obviously Marvel fans have been crying for Sony's blood, and talking about how stupid the whole situation is is. But you know, Sony has a bit of a history of stupid things where Spider-Man is concerned. Let's take a look at some of them.
Forcing Venom into Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3 was not good, and part of the reason why it wasn't good was because Sony did a bit of interfering. Producer Avi Arad was apparently fed up with Sam Raimi using villains he liked, rather than villains Arad assumed fans wanted to see on screen. As such, Raimi put Venom into the film, and later on talked at length about how he felt forced into including a character he didn't really care about - something Arad himself later admitted to.
Naturally, Venom's inclusion was the subject of much criticism, mainly because he was barely glossed over and helped make the film feel overstuffed - which was also true of Gwen Stacey's inclusion to a much lesser extent. Venom wasn't the only bad thing in Spider-Man 3, but scrapping him from the film would have been a big step towards helping the film not be a pile of wank. And it's all down to producer meddling, instead of letting Raimi do his thing.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
I'll throw out an unpopular opinion here: I did not hate The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I didn't particularly like it, but I went in with such low expectations for the film I ended up walking out of the cinema surprised that it wasn't a steaming pile of shit. It was, in fact, just an overstuffed pile of shit - a bit like Batman v Superman.
The first Amazing Spider-Man popped onto the scene in 2012, the same year The Avengers hit cinemas and made every studio executive turn round and decide to try and mimic the Marvel formula without actually putting in any of the same legwork at the first phase of the MCU. Clearly the executives at Sony Pictures were among them, because before the sequel was even released Sony had made it clear it was going to be a jumping point for its own MCU-style shared universe. A universe made up of Spider-Man characters, and that's about it.
Essentially the film became one big set up for the future, teasing the recently-announced Sinister Six movie, a third ASM film, among other things. And with that we ended up with three villains, one of which had about five minutes of screen time and a laughable accent, and another that was rushed through so that Sony could kill off Gwen Stacey in a way that wouldn't have fans calling for blood. My, how things have changed.
Peter's Father Wasn't Dead After All
I'm not kidding. An alternate ending for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 reveals that Richard Parker didn't die in that plane crash. A plane that literally fell out of the sky in the sea, and somehow he survived long enough and was able to stay in hiding for 15 or so years. While Peter's reaction is pretty solid, demanding to know why he was away for so long, it still doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Something about a conspiracy and keeping Peter safe, which is awfully convenient.
And then he got the "with great power line", which might as well just piss over the memory of Uncle Ben.
An MCU Rival Built on Spider-Man Characters
The great thing about the MCU was that it was able to pull out a diverse range of characters to build itself up over several years. There are still countless untapped resources the MCU hasn't explored, which has no doubt helped Marvel not run out of ideas. Meanwhile Sony's plan was the build a universe based around Spider-Man, pretty much the only hero they had the rights to, and his villains. Spider-Man may be a popular character, and may have a lot of Marvel's best comic villains, but that's still incredibly limiting right from the get go.
There's a lot of great work that can be done with the right people involved (see Into the Spider-Verse), but at the same time it just stank of yet another studio trying to force their own shared universe out of nowhere. And that Sony was reverting back to using slightly different versions of the same old characters (Green Goblin, Venom, Doctor Octopus) just further suggests that they didn't really know what they were aiming for and how they were going to do it.
The Aunt May Movie Rumours
Among the Spider-Man spin-offs that were rumoured, the one that made absolutely zero sense was the Aunt May movie. Supposedly this would be a prequel set during the Cold War, and would feature May Parker as some sort of spy. A spy in the style of the Agent Carter TV series. It was a terrible idea, and nothing was ever confirmed by Sony (even after the great hack), and even then-Aunt May Sally Field thought it was a stupid suggestion:
Aunt May spinoff? And make her the lead? What would you do with her? She has no special powers whatsoever. She was a housewife waiting for the kids to come home. I think they did that: It was called The Donna Reed Show.
Thankfully if there was every any truth to this rumour Sony made sure to nip the idea in the bud rather early on.
Spider-Man The Millennial
One of the revelations from the Sony hack? The higher-ups didn't really know what to do with Spider-Man, and they brainstormed a bunch of ridiculous ideas about how to make him more appealing to the millennial demographic. If any of these ideas had come to fruition we could have seen a Spider-Man who was vegan, into yoga, Tough Mudders, and dancing to EDM, all while fighting crime and publicising his exploits with the then-new Snapchat story feature.
Yeah it's as ridiculous as it sounds, and this conversation actually happened.
Who knows why Sony has pulled out and what the future will hold. Is it all about money and not wanting to split the financial burden/gain with Disney? Is it really over a producer credit dispute, as Sony representatives claimed, or does Sony think it can do without Disney now that Far From Home is the highest grossing Spider-Man film ever? We can speculate, but considering where Sony was at with Spider-Man before the MCU deal came along I don't have much confidence on that going alone is a particularly good idea. Even if Into The Spider-Verse was absolutely brilliant.
Then again, Disney is getting a little bit too big for itself, and being knocked down a peg is probably a good thing. Shame it's happened this way, though.