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Spider-Man Is Back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures have agreed to terms after a brief negotiation period. So don’t worry: Everything is back to normal for the Wall Crawler.

Marvel/Ringer illustration

Though it probably didn’t require a “time heist” or a convoluted journey through the space-time continuum, Spider-Man is going to be back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In case you weren’t aware—though given the number of Marvel fanboys who reacted to this news online with horror like they’d seen the murder of John Wick’s pet, it’d have been hard to miss—the character’s future in the MCU was in serious jeopardy in August, as Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures couldn’t agree on new terms for their partnership. (In short: Sony owns the rights to the Spidey character and was basically loaning him to the MCU as Marvel got a cut of the profits from the Sony stand-alone films. Marvel wanted a much bigger slice of the pie, and Sony wasn’t willing to give it up.)

But whatever profit-related impasses were standing between Sony and Marvel continuing an inter-studio partnership have since been smoothed over. As announced in a joint press release, a third Spidey film is being released in July 2021—and most importantly for superhero movie enthusiasts, it will still exist within the MCU framework. “I am thrilled that Spidey’s journey in the MCU will continue, and I and all of us at Marvel Studios are very excited that we get to keep working on it,” Marvel president Kevin Feige said in a statement. “Spider-Man is a powerful icon and hero whose story crosses all ages and audiences around the globe. He also happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes, so as Sony continues to develop their own Spidey-verse you never know what surprises the future might hold.”

With the way Tom Holland’s iteration of the character had been built up—in Spider-Man: Far From Home, he’s treated as the heir apparent to Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark—it would’ve been unmistakenly weird for both studios if a new agreement had not been reached. Spider-Man stand-alone films would’ve had to skirt around the fact that guys like Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and the other Avengers weren’t going to show up anymore; the MCU, conversely, would have had to make it seem like Spider-Man never existed by ostensibly never bringing him up. (Or, by association, the legendary European vigilante known as Night Monkey?) The best crossover Holland’s Spider-Man could’ve hoped for in a Sony-exclusive universe would have been with Tom Hardy’s Venom—which is honestly such a bizarre and salivating thought that I’m praying to every higher being that can still come to fruition. Put Venom in the MCU, you losers!

While fans are happy about the renewal of the studios’ teamwork because they’ll get to see Spider-Man hang out with Black Panther or whatever, for Marvel and Sony, continuing the partnership is also mutually beneficial. The Spider-Man movies have been making bank—Far From Home made over $1 billion at the box office this year—and the connection to the MCU writ large is an undeniable part of its appeal. (If you’re gonna watch a Spidey movie, chances are you’re checking out and enjoying other Marvel movies too.) And the more success Spider-Man gives Sony, the more it’ll be able to extend its own Spider-verse, which will include a Venom sequel directed by Andy “tha God” Serkis, a Morbius flick, and a follow-up to the Oscar-winning Into the Spider-Verse.

So this is good news all around, but also, let’s not act like this was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from Dunkirk. Two gigantic companies decided that, in the shared interest of making a shitload of money in the future, they should probably work out a deal. Marvel, which initially received 5 percent of the stand-alone Spidey film’s first dollar gross, wanted a 50-50 split. That’s an absurd increase; you can’t blame Sony for balking at it. (The parameters of the new deal between the studios have yet to be reported.) But Sony’s success with Spider-Man is undeniably thanks to Marvel and Feige’s involvement—remember how awful those Andrew Garfield–starring movies were? The only good thing they ever did was cast Paul Giamatti as Rhino and let him sound like Russian Oligarch John Malkovich in Billions. The best outcome was making sure things stayed exactly the same—on screen, at least.

And with that, congrats folks, crisis averted. Peter Parker is, once again, feeling quite good. Now can we focus the outrage that came out of Spidey’s maybe exiting the MCU on something a little more pressing, like the rapid disintegration of our planet?