Spider-Man has had a storied and, at times, tumultuous history in cinemas over the past twenty or so years. While the rights to the actual character and his stories are owned by Disney and Marvel Entertainment, it's Sony who happens to be the holders of his film rights.
Starting with a bang with the smash-hit, director Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man movie proved to be just what Sony wanted, and two sequels were produced with Raimi at the helm. When Spider-Man 3 underperformed at the box office, the studio rebooted and brought Spider back to square one.
The Amazing Spider-Man was greenlit with actor Andrew Garfield in the title role, but when its sequel failed to live up to Sony's expectations, the studio was at a bit of a loss, especially considering that the film was meant to serve as a launchpad for several spin-off films set in the same universe.
Meanwhile, Marvel Studios and the MCU were doing things no one ever dreamed of with their characters and breaking box office records in the process. And at the top of the MCU food chain was Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, whose leadership and nuanced guidance can be credited for much of the studios' success.
After the Amazing Spider-Man 2 debacle, Sony decided it wanted a piece of the pie.
A new MCU book has been making the rounds, telling the at-times unheard story of Marvel Studios and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The volume has given readers some intriguing insights into the making of these movies, such as the story behind Marvel initially approaching Robert Downey Jr. about a role drastically different to Tony Stark, as well as what became of the Wasp's original role in 2012's The Avengers.
Now, the book has detailed just how Spider-Man made his way into the MCU.
The Spectacular Sandwich-Man?
The recently released book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry goes into detail about the storied meeting between Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and Sony's motion picture group chairperson, Amy Pascal over the fate of Spider-Man in film:
"With a good sense of how they would like to handle the character, Feige was ready for his lunch with Pascal. What he wasn't ready for was Pascal's reaction to his proposal. The meeting was in her office at Sony. As expected, Pascal wasted no time in expressing her strong desire to have Feige be more directly involved, creatively, in the making of Sony Pictures' The Amazing Spider-Man 3. Excited about the ideas her team currently had, Pascal said she would send Feige the latest draft. 'About halfway through the delicious sandwich that she had brought in, I said, 'Amy, in all fairness, it's not gonna work,'' shares Feige."
Unbeknownst to Pascal, Feige had drastically different ambitions for the character going forward, claiming to Pascal "why don't you let us do it:"
"'We've sort of done that before. And I don't think I'm particularly helpful there.' But Feige wasn't done; he had a counterproposal: 'The only way I know how to do anything is to just do it entirely. So why don't you let us do it? Don't think of it as two studios. And don't think of it as giving another studio back the rights. No change of hands of rights. No change of hands of money. Just engage us to produce it. Just pretend it's like what DC did with Christopher Nolan. I'm not saying we're Nolan, but I am saying there is a production company that is doing this pretty well. Just engage the services of that production company to make the movie.' Pascal was taken aback."
Pascal was, at first, quite upset by this, stating that "I think I started crying and threw him out of my office" but quickly came around to see the merit in Feige's ideas:
"'At first, I was super resentful," she admits. 'I think I started crying and threw him out of my office, or threw a sandwich at him - I'm not sure which.' Then she started to think it through. 'By the fifth [Spider-Man] movie, we weren't giving them anything new. And I have to be honest about it, we were trying so hard to be different, we even went into places to be different that we shouldn't have. We weren't fresh anymore.'"
Ultimately, it was a mutual love for Spider-Man as well as a concession on the part of Pascal that righted the ship:
"Pascal continues, 'The lucky thing is, Kevin and I come from the same place in terms of how we love Peter. I've been working with Kevin on Spider-Man movies since Sam Raimi's. He would come to the meetings, get everybody coffee, and he never said a word for years. Which makes you love somebody because then when they do open their mouth, you realize that they've been thinking all the big thoughts and are really smart, but never had to hear themselves talk.'
Pascal called Feige back the next day after their lunch. The concept of a collaboration between Sony and Marvel Studios had not left her mind. After hearing his specific thoughts on what to do with Spider-Man in the MCU, she admits, 'The idea of putting him up against a world where everybody had everything and he had nothing was a whole new way of telling his story. I thought, 'Goddamn, that guy's smart.''"
A Spider-Man Partnership that Continues to this Day
So, all's well that ends well.
Spider-Man was rebooted into the MCU with Tom Holland as a Peter Parker who now possesses the ability to team up with the Avengers and cross over into other movies. And although there was a brief upset in this seemingly happy union in late 2019, cooler heads prevailed, and the character and his movies have continued to be produced by Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios.
Tom Holland's Peter Parker will next be seen in the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home, in theaters on December 17, 2021.