Disney Could Lose Spider-Man, Putting World Domination Plans On Hold Until At Least 2021


When Spider-Man was created in 1962 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (with some contributions behind the scenes from Jack Kirby), the copyright term was 56 years, meaning Spider-Man should have entered into the public domain on January 1st, 2018. Mainly because of the actions of Disney in the late 70s, the copyright term was extended to “haha, f**k you, corporations own everything forever.”

Now Disney and Sony are having a public slapfight over a new agreement for Marvel to continue to use Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Sony rejecting Disney’s offer of a 50/50 split of costs and profits, a deal which former Spider-Man writer Sean McKeever pointed out would have made the studio less on the billion dollar Spider-Man Far From Home than they made on Venom, which turned in a much more modest performance.

Early reports suggested that the deal was off and Spider-Man was out of the MCU. This would leave Sony free to make their own Spider-Man movies with Tom Holland, but it would present certain problems based on how integrated into the Iron Man films he was. Like, we all know that the formative moment in Spider-Man’s journey as a hero was the death of his father figure, the man who mentored him and taught him the important lessons that would forever define his moral fabric: Tony Stark, international arms dealer and billionaire playboy. Without that important part of his backstory, Sony may have to create another character to take that role, perhaps giving Peter an uncle or something.

I joke, but Spider-Man felt much more like Iron Lad in the Marvel Cinematic Universe than Spider-Man. They removed pretty much every trace of his unique world and plopped him into a film that could have been Iron Man 4 with a few tweaks. Even his supporting cast feels more like Iron Man’s and less like Spider-Man’s. What this means is that had Disney not fought to extend copyright in the 70s (and a few times since then), they could simply continue using Spider-Man as basically nothing in the films comes from material that would still be copyrighted (aside from Mary Jane Watson, though one could argue Zendaya’s MJ is a new character).

Of course, a few hours after news broke that the studios hadn’t reached terms on continuing their arrangement, Variety reported that Sony and Disney are still negotiating, meaning it’s likely one or both parties leaked this information as a negotiating tactic. 

Personally, I think they’re going to reach an agreement. Disney isn’t going to want to not be able to use Marvel’s most recognizable character in the Marvel movies, it’s like doing Justice League without Superman. And nobody would be that stupid, right?

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