I am very curious about the deal between Marvel and Sony that has allowed Spider-Man to finally come to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What are the terms? How specific is it? What does it allow and what does it disallow?
We don't know this yet, but Gawker has published some of the licensing rules that Marvel laid upon Sony in 2011 for filmic depictions of Spider-Man... as well as Peter Parker. The rules, intriguingly, delineate a difference between the two. First the rules for Spider-Man:
And the rules for Peter Parker:
Gawker and Boing Boing are already rolling their eyes over this - Boing Boing's Rob Beschizza feels that a ban on Spider-Man fucking children doesn't allow him to be naughty - but I actually think these rules... well, they make a lot of sense. Hear me out.
First of all, the rules for Spider-Man are sort of no-brainers. These are PG-13 movies about heroes, and Spidey should definitely not be selling drugs, fucking 14 year olds or dropping F-bombs. But everything else about Spider-Man is pretty open, even possibly his sexuality - as long as it fits in with a version of Spider-Man depicted in the comics. Which means that if someone creates a gay Spider-Man in Marvel Comics you could have a gay Spider-Man in the movies.
That's where keeping Peter Parker separate makes sense; the list of Peter's attributes speak specifically to the character of Peter Parker introduced in the pages of Amazing Fantasy #15. I'm not wild that Peter must be white (I do not believe the character's whiteness in any way defines him), but that fits in with 60 years of merch and depictions, so it seems fair. If, after Secret Wars the Peter Parker in the comics was suddenly black or Asian (maybe half-Asian to keep his last name? Or adopted?) I wouldn't blink an eye, but at the same time I understand that there is a version of the character that Marvel is licensing.
I actually love a lot of the nerdy side aspects of the agreement. The black suit cannot be made by Peter! He must make his own costume first! He comes from Queens! I wish they had gone even more granular and demanded that "With great power comes great responsibilty" be included in the movie at least once. As someone who has seen some really dodgy adaptations of established comic book characters, I appreciate that Marvel wanted to outline the basics of who Spider-Man and Peter Parker were, as opposed to allowing some Hollywood moron to reinvent the characters from the ground up. You licensed THIS character, so use THIS character.
What's actually interesting here is that the licensing rules seem to allow someone who is not Peter Parker to be Spider-Man. That means Miles Morales or, if we're really testing the boundaries of the licensing agreement, a whole new character. Despite what Gawker says in their article, Spider-Man CAN be black... it's Peter Parker who is white.
Anyone who is familiar with the character of Peter Parker as Spider-Man would have to find these rules reasonable. The idea that anyone in the Spidey suit has to be straight is a little lame, but I think this should just serve as a challenge to the writers and artists of the Spider-Man comics to create and introduce into canon a gay alternate universe Spider-Man who can then be useable in the movies.