I can't even believe it has happened, but Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios have proven themselves as masters of the impossible again and again, and they pulled off yet another astonishing feat: they have brought Spider-Man home to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
After the Sony leak we learned that Marvel and Sony had been in talks, but those talks had gone nowhere. My sources had told me it was all dead, that Spider-Man wasn't in play anymore. And then... this. Late tonight Marvel blew up the internet by announcing Spidey would appear in an upcoming Marvel movie and that Kevin Feige would step on to produce the next Amazing Spider-Man film, now scheduled for July 28, 2017. Sony will retain final control and ownership of the character, but it's clear they're letting Feige and Marvel lead the way creatively.
This leaves us with a whole host of new questions. Will Amazing Spider-Man 3 be a soft reboot? What movie will Spidey first appear in as an MCU character? Which characters could show up in the Spider-Man films moving forward? What's going to happen to Andrew Garfield and Marc Webb, who had a trilogy planned to spring from Amazing Spider-Man 2?
There's a very good chance Spidey will show up in Captain America: Civil War; I know that the Russos love the character and would be great at redefining him in his new context. At the same time, does it make more sense for Marvel to hold him for Doctor Strange, to give that new franchise a boost? I am assuming that we're going to see him in Civil War, although I bet it's a smaller role (and not entirely the same as his role in the comic books, as this version of Civil War will not be a straight adaptation).
The Marvel announcement certainly makes it seem like he's going to show up in the MCU before July 2017, and if they're doing that it could be a sign that they're recasting. Having a new actor show up in Civil War and be like "Hi, I'm Spider-Man!" is enough of a soft reboot to allow Amazing Spider-Man 3 (which, I bet, will take on the Marvel naming convention and be called Spider-Man: The Sinister Six or something, further distancing itself from the prior two movies) to stand on its own - or at least as part of the MCU.
The announcement mentions MCU characters could show up in future Spidey movies. This could be a new backdoor way to introduce characters - Marvel suddenly has a new movie every couple of years in their strategy, and it's taking place on a different level of the Marvel Universe - somewhere between the streetwise stuff on Netflix and the big blockbuster stuff of The Avengers. I'd love Tony Stark or Bruce Banner to show up and reinforce Peter Parker as a science whiz.
Or... is it going to be Peter Parker? Here's a crazy thought - what if they make Spider-Man Miles Morales? If you look at the Marvel announcement you'll notice that Avi Arad is not mentioned once. Avi has been the roadblock to Spider-Man's success. and he's been very vocal in wanting Spider-Man to always be Peter Parker. But after the last film does it make sense to lay Pete to rest? The announcement doesn't mention Arad but it does have one mention of Peter, from Sony's Doug Belgrad:
This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker's story into the future."
I certainly didn't expect this news tonight. It's a huge deal - the biggest deal since Marvel announced The Avengers, I think. It's unprecedented, it's an impossibility coming true and it's a potential blueprint for the future. There is no love lost between Marvel and Fox, but could regime changes and the passage of years (and the evidence of a successful partnership with Marvel that makes Sony plenty of money) lead to a detente on that front? Could the Fantastic Four or the X-Men come home as well?
All of a sudden anything and everything is on the table. We truly live in the Age of Miracles.