A ton of information has come from the new book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some of it is as simple as alternative casting for various characters and actors but also more details about how Marvel Studios was denied the use of certain characters. The book even has details about the deal to incorporate Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It's been known for years, since an infamous Sony leak, that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige had given Sony his notes on a rough cut of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. A few weeks after Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released, Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 finally swung into theaters to mixed critical and fan reception.
So, shortly after the theatrical opening of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony Pictures Entertainment's then-co-chairperson, Amy Pascal, invited Feige to a lunch meeting to discuss more ideas she had for the threequel.
But, unbeknownst to Pascal, Feige had something else in mind for Spider-Man: a future in the MCU.
A Preemptive Plan To Get Spider-Man
According to Tara Bennett and Paul Terry's The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, days before Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige decided to meet with Sony Pictures Entertainment's then-co-chairperson, Amy Pascal, Feige "scrambled together an impromptu, mini-creative retreat" with the intent on making "a battle plan" to present to Pascal that would deter Sony's plans for The Amazing Spider-Man 3:
"A few days ahead of their lunch, Feige scrambled together an impromptu, mini-creative retreat with their core creative producers. If there were even the slightest chance Peter Parker could be part of the MCU, Feige wanted to have the bones of a battle plan already figured out."
This impromptu retreat was held in a rented hotel in Santa Monica for two days in Spring of 2014. Only the executive producers at Marvel Studios knew why they were there, while everyone else was told it was a "get-together."
At that hotel, Feige and the rest of the executive producers discussed their game-plan to break a deal with Sony and, if successful, what story they would tell with Peter Parker:
"With no time to spare, Feige announced an 'all hands on deck' situation: Every executive producer at Marvel Studios had to be part of a secret, two-day long, off-site retreat, held in a rented hotel space in Santa Monica. No one else at Marvel Studios was told about what they were doing, just that it was a 'get-together.' In that closed room, two questions were posed: If there were an opportunity to broker some kind of deal with Sony, how would it work? And if they leveraged something like a five-picture deal, what stories would they want to tell?"
Something that everyone at the retreat quickly agreed on was keeping Parker a teenager in high school. Not only would it allow Marvel Studios a different "playground for ideas and storytelling," but if a multi-picture deal was reached, they could further explore Peter's "growing pains" as Spider-Man:
"One thing that they all quickly agreed on was that they didn't want to take Peter Parker out of high school. The idea of Peter experiencing the day-to-day-events of school life, like school trips, homework, and a homecoming dance, was such an exciting—and, for Marvel Studios, a totally different—playground for ideas and storytelling. And, if there ended up being a multi-picture deal available, they loved the notion of exploring the growing pains of an adolescent Spider-Man over numerous, interconnected stories."
As the retreat finished, "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."
A Bright Future for Peter Parker in the MCU
It should be evident that despite Spider-Man: No Way Home being the last headlining film in Tom Holland's contract as Peter Parker in the MCU, that doesn't mean Spider-Man will be leaving the MCU any time soon.
In April, it was revealed that Disney had made a "massive movie licensing pact" with Sony Pictures that "promises to bring Spider-Man and other Marvel properties" to Disney+ beginning in 2022. Therefore, it would be an odd deal for Sony to strike if they did not plan on renewing their contract with Disney and Marvel Studios for Holland's Spider-Man.
Additionally, the post-credit scene for Venom: Let There Be Carnage heavily implied that Sony is fully invested in the future of the MCU. So, it's exciting to think that Marvel Studios could potentially have further plans for the web-crawler, perhaps a college trilogy following Parker's time in high school.
Fans will find out where exactly Peter Parker ends up when Spider-Man: No Way Home debuts in theaters on December 17, 2021.