Of all the Marvel properties, Spider-Man remains one of the most beloved and — in the world of Hollywood—hotly contested of all. When fans' wish to see Spidey alongside the Avengers came true in Captain America: Civil War, a bold future alongside the rest of the MCU all-stars seemed assured.
The deal between Marvel Studios and Sony has been ever tenuous though, as each studio wants to get the most out of the extremely lucrative character. The 2019 breakdown of the Marvel-Sony deal that allowed the wall-crawler in the MCU seemed set to put an end to the partnership.
While a new deal was eventually agreed upon, December's Spider-Man: No Way Home is the last film included in the agreement.
Where that leaves Spider-Man is yet to be seen, but new remarks from Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group President Sanford Panitch should leave fans cautiously optimistic.
A POTENTIAL FUTURE FOR SPIDEY IN THE MCU
In a recent interview with Variety, Panitch seemed optimistic about a future partnership with Marvel Studios—citing a good relationship with studio chief Kevin Feige—while stopping short of any kind of confirmation and claiming there are "lots of opportunities."
“The great thing is we have this very excellent relationship with Kevin. There’s an incredible sandbox there to play with. We want those MCU movies to be absolutely huge, because that’s great for us and our Marvel characters, and I think that’s the same thing on their side. But we have a great relationship. There’s lots of opportunities, I think, that are going to happen.”
These comments come months after Spider-Man star Tom Holland echoed similar statements about the partnership between the Kevin Feige-led Marvel Studios and Sony, saying that he thinks "they love working with each other... They found a way in which it can be beneficial for both studios."
TWO MOVIE UNIVERSES, ONE SPIDER-MAN
It's become hard for many to think of an MCU without Tom Holland's Spider-Man. The character has been a stellar inclusion in every film he's been in, whether that's tackling his own rogue's gallery in Homecoming and Far from Home, tustling with the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War, or battling Thanos in space in Avengers:Infinity War.
Rumors continue to swirl about exactly what type of movie Spider-Man: No Way Home will be, but the needle seems to be tipping towards the multiversal clash of villains from the universes of past portrayals of the wallcrawler. If characters like Willem Dafoe's Norman Osborn/Green Goblin, Alfred Molina's Otto Octavius/Dr. Octopus, and Jamie Foxx's Maxwell Dillon/Electro ARE featured in No Way Home, there's no reason to believe Peter Parker won't be able to travel universes as well.
A way for Tom Holland's Spider-Man to appear in both the Sony Universe of Marvel Characters and the MCU has been discussed before. If multiversal travel becomes an established aspect of the MCU in the same way the "Spider-Verse" has functioned in the comics, then the means, motive, and opportunity will abound for Sony to reap the benefits of another deal with Marvel Studios while pulling Holland's character into their own slate.
While Venom did well and has a sequel on the way, it's difficult to imagine a continuously expanding universe of Spider-Man characters with no Spider-Man. Kraven, Venom, Carnage, and Morbius are infamous Spider-Man villains and it's hard to see them being successfully kept separate from him forever, even if some—chiefly Venom—have become beloved characters in their own right.
No Way Home will be the fulcrum upon which the future of Spider-Man rests. When it debuts on December 17, 2021, fans will leave the theater with a much better idea of where the webcrawler will end up.