Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Spidey's home: Sony Pictures partners with Marvel Studios

We fans knew it was possible — perhaps inevitable.

As soon as Marvel Comics announced it had created Marvel Studios to be in charge of the cinematic future of its characters, we all wondered what would happen with Spider-Man, which was the property of Sony Pictures.

After all, Spidey epitomizes Marvel more than any other character Stan Lee created. So why shouldn't ol' Webhead be part of the Marvel Studios family?

Finally, it's happened.

After weeks of rumor and speculation, Marvel and Sony announced this week their plans to share silver-screen control of Spider-Man. Part of that fantastically geeky annoucement is that Spidey's next solo film will be released July 28, 2017, which has prompted Marvel to shuffle the release dates of four other films. (More on that later.)

Who else is excited to see Spider-Man onscreen with The Avengers?
In short, with Spider-Man being part of the Marvel Studios continuity, Peter Parker can play in the same cinematic sandbox as The Avengers and most likely will join the roster of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Just like in the comic books!

While Sony is supposed to retain creative control of Spider-Man, there's a secret meaning IMHO.

The Marvel-Sony partnerships means Marvel can exert more control over the future of its most beloved character on the big screen. In other words, the way I see it (but hasn't bee disclosed by either movie studio), Marvel Studios will keep Sony's decision-making in check, will have the power of veto and/or approval for future projects and make sure Spider-Man gets the proper treatment and characterization on-film.

Tobey Maguire played Spider-Man in director Sam Raimi's trilogy.
Most importantly for Marvel and its millions of fans, the wall-crawler can interact with most of its superheroes and villains. So if Marvel wants Spidey to appear in any of its franchises (most likely he'll make his first appearance in "Captain America: Civil War" in May 2016), that can and will happen.

Just as exciting is that all of Spidey's villains (The Green Goblin, Electro, Sandman, The Rhino, The Vulture — just to name a few!) also are part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). That in turn means those same baddies can be pitted against Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk and more.

Now onto the Marvel Studios Film Shuffle.

The third "Thor" film —with the awful subtitle of "Ragnarok" — originally was supposed to be released at the same date as the new Spider-Man film, so "Thor: Ragnarok" has been moved to Nov. 3, 2017.

"Black Panther," originally in the same November spot, now will be released July 6, 2018. "Captain Marvel" will come out Nov. 2, 2018 (instead of that July) and "Inhumans" was moved to July 12, 2019. (Cary's Comics Craze broke down the risks involved in making these Phase III movies in an op-ed in November.)

Moving the "Thor" film to November 2017 won't have any box-office implications — and in fact, fits in with the release date of the previous installment. After all, "Thor: The Dark World" opened Nov. 8, 2013 and went on to make $206.3 million domestically.

While I'd consider a summer release date better exposure for "Captain Marvel" (a fairly unknown character to the public in general, especially now that Ms. Marvel has that name), releasing "Black Panther" in July will work well.

Not all lesser-known heroes can get the prime summer dates, so something had to give. Since King T'Challa likely will already have made his big-screen debut two years earlier in "Captain America: Civil War," the July 6, 2018 release date could build on the momentum to learn and see more about Black Panther.

As far as the extremely risky and oddball choice of Marvel making an "Inhumans" movie, I don't see how a changing its release date will make any difference for its box-office returns. In fact, coming out in the heat of the summer movie season might actually be a boost.

The Marvel Studios Film Shuffle admittedly is confusing, but it's all worth it to have Spider-Man in the MCU.

This graphic, courtesy of, nicely explains
what film studio has the rights to which Marvel characters.
The next inevitable question is could Marvel ever get the film rights to the "X-Men" and "Fantastic Four" franchises from 20th Century Fox?

It's doubtful Fox would ever give up the "X-Men" characters — go-to moneymakers, but I wouldn't be surprised if FF eventually joins the MCU fold too. Seriously, how boring is the trailer for "The Fantastic Four" (out Aug. 7)? Does that tell fans that Fox has any clue what to do with the creation that got the Marvel Comics phenomenon rolling almost 54 years ago?

Again, Spider-Man is in the MCU, so let's celebrate what Marvel Studios has and can do now — not what it doesn't have.

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