New rumours suggest that Sony and Marvel are in discussion to allow Spider-Man to crossover with The Avengers in some capacity.
When Yahoo quizzed Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield earlier this year, we asked him if he’d like to see the webslinger join up with fellow Marvel heroes like Iron Man or the Hulk in a movie one day. Watch the video below.
“I would love that,” explains the visibly enthused Garfield. “I know that the fans would love that. The more the merrier, the bigger the better.”
In the comics, Spider-Man is one of the key recurring members of the Avengers team in the modern comics era, along with Wolverine and Mr Fantastic of The Fantastic Four. However, on the cinema screen, it’s not as simple as that.
The movie rights to the various Marvel characters are spread out amongst different studios. ‘The Avengers’ belong to Marvel Studios, which in turn is owned by Disney. The X-Men and Fantastic Four are owned by 20th Century Fox, while Spider-Man belongs to Sony.
For Spider-Man to appear in ‘Avengers 3’, two things would have to happen. Either Disney and Sony would have to come to agreement over a joint Spider-Man/Marvel production, or Sony would sell the rights of the character to Disney.
Scenario a) The Joint Effort
A co-production, with both studios footing the budget and splitting the revenue like 20th Century Fox and Paramount did to fund James Cameron’s mega-expensive ‘Titanic’, is probably out of the question says Robin Hilton.
“Both [studios] will want to know what their cut is and both will want a certain amount of control over it, including distribution rights: and that will be the tricky bit,” he told us.
“If you were to have two or three different superheroes from different owners in one film, the challenge is to work out who gets paid what, what happens to income from joint merchandise… how do you deal with that?”
A cameo is also possible but also equally unlikely, unless a reciprocal agreement could be made by studio execs.
“There’s no standard route for that conversation to happen, they just think ‘That’s our IP and we’re not letting you have it,’” he added.
Scenario B) Marvel buying the rights back
Disney have the money and they’re not afraid to spend it as recently demonstrated by the acquisition of Lucasfilm, adding ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ to the studio’s already-heaving IP portfolio.
If Disney were willing to pony up the cash, would Sony wave goodbye to one of its most lucrative properties?
Entertainment lawyer Robin think’s it’s highly unlikely.
“Sony will want to keep hold of Spider-Man.
“If you think of someone like Warner Bros., they would never relinquish the rights of Harry Potter, not just because it became a huge cash cow, but because it became something intrinsically linked with their brand.”
Jim Mullany is certain that the only route he can see Sony Pictures relinquishing the rights to ‘Spider-Man’ would be if Sony were looking to offload its whole movie division, part and parcel.
Carving off ‘Spider-Man’ from that deal just would not make financial sense to the seller.
“If you were to extract the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise from the studio, the value would be denigrated tremendously because any buyer of the studio is going to want some reliable franchises that they can build their business on.”
When pushed to put a dollar value on the rights, Mullany was reticent to name one, citing that the franchise is a priceless commodity to Sony Pictures.
“Any value that we would estimate for the ‘Spider-Man’ rights, you’d have to add a multiple to that, only because it’s such an un-replaceable thing.”
Earlier this year, Sony Pictures lined up a co-financing deal with an investment firm worth $200m to bolster its business following a tough 2013 at the box office.
This should help steady the keel at the studio following a series of extensive lay-offs last year, so you can expect the future of ‘Spider-Man’ to remain safe for the foreseeable future.
However should Sony, the studios’ Japanese parent company, run into financial trouble, expect Disney to be first in line to snap up Columbia, and with it, the rights to ‘Spider-Man’.
The future of Spider-Man
So Spider-Man fans, it seems like there’s no hope that the character will team up with his Marvel pals any time soon.
Sony’s ambitious plans for the big screen future of Spider-Man franchise also show how the studio is hoping to build the rich world of ‘Spider-Man’ into a lucrative movie universe in the same vein as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Sony has four more ‘Spider-Man’ pictures lined up after the release of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ including 3 & 4 and spin-offs ‘Venom’ and ‘The Sinister Six’ - All which are due to come out before 2018.
However, a lukewarm critical reception to ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ could put the brakes on their plans. The studio has already reshuffled their schedule pushing ‘Amazing Spider-Man 3’ back, bringing ‘Sinister Six’ forward/
Marvel Studios also continues to proliferate. It has its release schedule mapped out to 2028 with plans to ramp up its output to 3-4 movies a year.
On the face of it, neither studio needs for a Spider-Man/Avengers crossover to happen at any point in the future, regardless of whether fans want it or not.
But who knows what the future holds?
Image credit: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios/Marvel Comics