The Walt Disney Company is one of the richest and most powerful media companies in the world. And when Disney-plus becomes available in November of this year it will leave the biggest streaming service in the world, Netflix, in the dust.
To be clear: the Walt Disney Company is gargantuan and is not an entity you want to mess with.
And Disney just pulled a massive power play on Sony Pictures regarding the future of Spider-Man.
The fictional superhero, Spider-Man was first introduced all the way back in Amazing Fantasy #15 in August 1962. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, when Spider-Man first appeared in the early 1960s, teenagers in superhero comic books were usually relegated to the role of sidekick to the protagonist.
The Spider-Man comic book series broke ground by featuring Peter Parker, a high school student from Queens, New York behind Spider-Man’s secret identity and with whose “self-obsessions with rejection, inadequacy, and loneliness” young readers could relate to.
Way back in 1998, Marvel Entertainment was looking for an influx of cash after the company emerged from the bankruptcy it filed two years prior. At the same time, a Sony Pictures exec by the name of Yair Landau was looking to secure the big-screen rights to Spider-Man.
Current Chairman and former CEO of Marvel, Ike Perlmutter countered by offering Sony the rights to nearly every Marvel character, including the likes of Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther and Ant-Man for a measly $25 million.
But Marvel didn’t make that deal. Instead, they sold Spider-Man for only $7 million and Sony definitely got its money worth out of that deal. Sony quickly cast Tobey Maguire in the coveted film adaptation directed by Sam Raimi, which they ultimately made three together before rebooting the franchise with Andrew Garfield taking over Peter Parker.
In 2009, Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion and that’s when renegotiations occurred about making Spider-Man a big part of the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Disney and Sony co-financed the standalones “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
But now Disney’s Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures have hit an impasse on new financing terms for any/all upcoming Spider-Man movies.
Negotiations broke down and now Sony is the sole proprietor of the Spider-Man character, which means any future plans to keep Spider-Man in the MCU is nonexistent.
But is there something far more sinister going on here?
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has not commented on the matter but it’s safe to assume that everything that has leaked to the press was done with purpose.
As soon as the news broke, it didn’t take long for the hashtag “#BoycottSony” to start trending on Twitter. Feige has all the leverage in this situation and he knows it. How will fans of the MCU react if the negotiations break down? They’ll be livid, right?
What is Sony going to do? Reboot Spider-Man AGAIN? No. No way. They’re stuck with Marvel Studios whether Sony likes it or not. And Sony should be grateful they’re along for the ride. That’s Feige’s position.