Sony Pictures struck an unprecedented deal with The Walt Disney Company in 2015 that called for Spider-Man/Peter Parker to once again be rebooted on the big screen, this time in the MCU. Thus the Tom Holland era of the character began in 2016's Captain America: Civil War.
Over the next five years, Holland appeared in three solo films and three MCU films, including Avengers: Infinity War & Endgame. The British star has been attached to some of the biggest films in history, his most recent outing, Spider-Man: No Way Home, becoming the sixth highest-grossing film of all time.
However, the journey hasn't always been rainbows and sunshine. In 2019, after the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home (the first $1 billion Spider-Man film ever) it was reported that Spider-Man would be leaving the MCU.
After negotiations that ended without a solution, fans went into a frenzy over the idea of Holland not being able to complete his MCU trilogy.
Ultimately, the two companies agreed to a short-term deal that brought Spider-Man back into the MCU to round out the Homecoming trilogy with the global success of Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The future of Tom Holland's Spider-Man remains unclear, as there are no current plans for a future web-head sequel or MCU crossover, but there has still been plenty of rumors about Holland's new deal.
Assuming he does return, it's time to speculate on how exactly it could happen.
1.) Sony and Disney Agree to a Short-Term Deal
After the 2019 debacle, there's a genuine chance that Tom Holland won't return as Spider-Man in the MCU. However, Marvel Studios President CEO Kevin Feige offered some encouraging words while being interviewed about No Way Home.
Feige hinted at the beginning of development for the next stage of Holland's Spider-Man story to the New York Times back in December 2021:
"We’re actively beginning to develop where the story heads next, which I only say outright because I don’t want fans to go through any separation trauma like what happened after Far From Home [the previous Spider-Man movie, in 2019]. That will not be occurring this time."
Given the reassurance, a deal is likely, but for how long?
Spider-Man almost left the MCU in 2019 because Disney was demanding too much from Sony. After the success of Far From Home, it's fair for Disney/Marvel to reap the benefit of a franchise for which it has the majority of creative control.
So, Disney wanted to put up 50% of the production money, and in turn, receive 50% of the box office earnings.
Ultimately, Disney agreed to a similar deal, with a 25% slice of the spidey pie. The two studios also agreed on Spider-Man appearing in another MCU film, which has yet to happen.
Based on the studio's latest negotiations, another short-term deal could be the most probable. This would mainly benefit Sony, keeping its options open, especially as the studio continues to grow its adjacent Spider-Man Universe.
However, if Sony truly wants to give fans what they want, a longer-term deal is the best way to keep audiences engaged.
2.) Marvel Studios and Sony Strike a Long-Term Deal
It's already been rumored that a deal between Sony and Disney in regard to Tom Holland's Spider-Man would be focused on another trilogy of solo films.
Locking in Holland as Peter Parker for the foreseeable future is certainly a wise idea. The actor is only 26 years old, and his first trilogy only focused on Peter Parker's high school experience, leaving plenty of room for future story-telling.
This new deal could look like an expanded version of the original 2015 agreement, with more skin in the game for Disney.
An example could be a six-picture deal, three of those being solo films distributed by Sony Pictures, and the other three being Marvel Studios films, most likely Avengers films or potential crossover events like Captain America: New World Order or Fantastic Four.
After the massive success of No Way Home, there's plenty of incentive to strike a new deal for Sony, but Disney may once again want more money.
While 50% of the financials may be unrealistic, the 25% that was agreed on for No Way Home may also not be what Marvel Studios wants to sign up for long-term. Inching closer to 30%-40% could be more realistic for Disney to close the deal.
It's important to remember that Disney & Marvel Studios do have every right to demand more from Sony. The MCU completely revitalized the character and resulted in the first two $1 billion Spider-Man movies, something Sony was never able to accomplish on its own.
If Sony decides it would rather not continue joint-producing Spidey films with Marvel Studios, there is a possible third option.
3.) Disney Rents the Rights to Spider-Man
While this proposed deal wouldn't sell the rights back to Disney (like so many fans would love), it would temporarily give Marvel Studios the exclusive rights to use Tom Holland's Peter Parker and surrounding characters.
Under this agreement, Disney would either pay Sony up-front for the live-action rights or sign a more flexible deal that would give Sony a percentage of box office earnings.
This new deal would likely be more favorable for Disney, giving Marvel full control without having to collaborate with another studio. Another benefit of this deal would be that Holland's Spider-Man could pop up in more creative ways, like in the street-level show Daredevil: Born Again.
Is it farfetched to think Sony would ever hand over its rights to Spider-Man? Absolutely. But it could give their producers the to create whatever they want in their own universe, maybe even bringing in a live-action version of Miles Morales.
Ultimately, fans have a right to be hopeful that the two studios will strike up another deal to share everyone's favorite webhead. Many questions still remain, including whether Holland will go along with anything the media companies decide.
It's a complicated process, but hopefully soon fans will be updated on an official new deal that'll continue Peter Parker's journey in the MCU.