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Sony and Disney Have To Figure Out Their Spider Story Partnership and Fast

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios | Original Artwork by Murjani Rawls

If you’re wondering what is happening within the state of Spider-Man storytelling after the release of Madame Web, you’re probably not the only one. How is it that Sony Pictures can be involved in projects as revered as the Spider-Verse animated films, partner with Disney and Marvel Studios to craft a well-received Spider-Man trilogy starring Tom Holland, and then the same studio forging ahead with a series of standalone films not having Peter Parker at all? It isn’t very clear, and while I am thankful the partnership between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios allowed Spider-Man to play in the MCU sandbox, something has to be cleared up.

Peter Parker’s character being held in limbo within an extended universe and the way to utilize him being disputed by two creative entities is hurting the overall product (at least in the live-action sense). Sony’s animated crown jewel is still moving along, heading to a highly-anticipated third film. Still, there are questions about how its self-contained multi-verse story will tie into the bigger one at play. The live-action films don’t seem to clear up the links either. Tom Hardy’s Venom gets blipped back to the Sony-verse at the end of No Way Home, Michael Keaton’s Vulture shows up at the end of Morbius and eludes to both Spider-Man (is he even in this universe?) and the Sinister Six (who are they going to fight?), and Madame Web is set in the past when Peter Parker is born. Things aren’t as simple as when Sony looked to rejuvenate its Spider-Man brand by announcing its partnership with Marvel in February 2015, coming off a very convoluted The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Things are considerably different now when you look at the business of superhero films.

The word fatigue has been thrown around more often than not; it speaks to a quality issue (which Sony itself isn’t helping). Disney doesn’t have the hot hand it used to be and is undergoing its self-assessment of quality control. In 2015, the MCU was on an upward trajectory with the releases of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man before we got to 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Marvel is not defeated but is soul-searching as to the next phase and whether audiences will buy into it again. Sony is seemingly throwing all caution to the wind and banking on the good faith of the Holland Spider-Man films. However, it seems as if that is running out.

Other than the meme-able “It’s Morbin Time” joke that somehow got Morbius re-released in theaters, it was forgotten. The same fate seems to be set for Madame Web with a dismal first-week box office and Sony’s own admission that it’ll be a while before we see these characters again. Spider-Man 4 is still a couple of years away, and the question now is whether the release of Beyond The Spider-Verse is enough to blunt what could happen with the reception of these two forthcoming films.  

Given the space where this agreement was born, it’s almost a perfect stroke of irony where it is now. Marvel is retooling their projects, but the surefire bet of a Tom Holland Spider-Man film (or trilogy) doesn’t hurt. With Secret Wars on the horizon, having access to the Sony Spider-Man characters is essential to that story. By now, Sony has to understand that people aren’t going to turn out for films that are of the Spider-Man world just based on previous wins. They have to mean something in the scheme of things or at least be entertaining.

To some extent, Venom works within the comedy and Tom Hardy’s embrace of that character. That said, Morbius and Madame Web were thrown out there for IP’s sake. Audiences have been rebuking that mode of creativity, which is why the superhero genre has had to take a hard look at itself. These two massive entities must come together and figure out what’s what before these potential stories fall on deaf ears and empty wallets.

Murjani Rawls
Murjani Rawlshttp://www.murjanirawls.com
Murjani is a journalist, self-published author, podcast producer, and photographer working out of the tri-state area. Since 2014, Murjani has been stretching his creativity and passions. He has contributed over 18 websites and over 1,000 articles to his journalism portfolio, providing timely commentary on music, television, movies, politics, sports, and more. Murjani has photographed over 250+ artists spanning many musical genres, is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, and has covered festivals such as Lollapalooza, Sundance Film Festival, and SXSW. Murjani has five self-published books of poetry, three of which have reached the top ten in new releases on Amazon upon release. He is currently the Culture Editor at DraftKings Nation / Vox Media. He was previously staff writer at The Root, senior editor & writer at Substream Magazine, and senior writer, editor, and podcast producer at The Pop Break.

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