But while we're talking about Civil War ...
The deal between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures to bring Spider-Man into the same cinematic universe as Iron Man, Captain America, and that guy with the giant forehead from The Incredible Hulk was met with a resounding "Yes!" from fans, and a resounding "Meh, so what?" from other, more jaded fans. After all, Sony will still be making the Spidey movies -- the only difference is that he'll probably make a cameo in The Avengers 5: Giant Forehead Guy Rises, right? Actually, this deal has way bigger implications than you might think, starting with how ...
Back in 2013, during that blissful period when Sony still thought everyone would love Amazing Spider-Man 2 and immediately demand more of it, they announced two spin-offs: Sinister Six (a Justice League of Spider-Man baddies) and Venom (this time with 100 percent less Topher Grace). While common sense says that flushing Sony's old plans down the toilet would be the best course of action, in this case we disagree -- connecting these spin-offs to the larger Marvel Universe could lead to some amazing things. For example, look at what the comics are doing with Venom right now:
In the latest storyline of the Guardians of the Galaxy comic, Starlord and company travel to the planet where the black goo that gave Vemom his powers came from -- it's the Guardians versus a world full of Venoms, and that's something that could happen in a movie now. Also, Rocket Raccoon gets space rabies:
The point is, the Spider-Man franchise writers suddenly have a whole universe (literally) to play with. There's a chance the Sinister Six movie is about be canned, since director Drew Goddard is rumored to have been reassigned to a regular Spider-Man movie, but the Marvel connection could save that idea. During Marvel's Civil War storyline (coming to theaters in 2016), amongst the chaos of Captain America and Iron Man punching the Patriot Act metaphors out of each other, the Sinister Six are captured and tasked by Tony Stark with hunting down Cap and his Secret Avengers. If that doesn't sound awesome enough, also consider that this new version would be guaranteed to be at least a million times better than Sony's original Sinister Six by virtue of not featuring Paul Giamatti's terrible Russian accent.
But while we're talking about Civil War ...
We don't mean to sound ungrateful -- it's awesome that Marvel and Sony finally succumbed to their years of sexual tension and signed this deal. However, there's now a fantastic chance that this whole thing could go so horribly, horribly wrong that all our years of campaigning could come back to haunt us.
See, it's been confirmed that the movie where the new Spider-Man will debut is Civil War, which on the surface makes sense -- Spidey had a big role in the comic version, too. For starters, there's this scene:
In order to promote a Superhuman Registration Act, Iron Man persuades Spider-Man to unmask during a press conference, which had to make at least one journalist go, "Holy shit, I've seen Spider-Man's dick in the Daily Bugle men's room." Later, Spidey becomes disillusioned with the violent tactics used by Iron Man (see above: the Sinister Six) and absconds to Team Cap. Don't worry, we didn't just spoil the movie for you, because there's a huge chance none of this shit will happen in it. Why? Simply because Marvel Studios' writers had no idea Spider-Man would be in the movie until recently. Any changes would have to be written and cast by April because, holy shit, that's when filming starts.
In fact, before the deal was announced, it was rumored that Marvel planned for Black Panther to take over Spider-Man's Civil War role -- they even hinted at that when Chadwick Boseman was announced as the Panther and was asked to "pick a side."
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
However, it's difficult to imagine any of the major elements of the comic's plot survived in this version, because ... well, 0.2 percent of the population knows who Black Panther is. As a result of this, simply slotting Spider-Man into the Black Panther role doesn't work, since Black Panther didn't have that much of a role to begin with. Which means that the biggest crossover since ever might end up totaling, like, five minutes of screen time.
So yeah, as much fun as the deal-signing celebration party was, the production now has to balance casting, plugging Spider-Man in, and trying not to piss everyone off by doing it shoddily. Is all this even worth the trouble for the studios? Yes. Absolutely. Because ...
It isn't an understatement to say that for a brief spell in 2012, The Avengers redefined the concept of money so badly that we wouldn't be surprised to hear that Joss Whedon now runs the Federal Reserve. But as it turns out, box office receipts aren't everything, because Spider-Man is still the biggest money-maker out of every superhero ever. Yes, despite the fact that his last three movies sucked balls in every sense, even financially.
How is that possible? Licensing and merchandise, Tiger.
According to retail figures, Spider-Man bought home a staggering $1.3 billion in 2013, with the distant second place going to Batman at $494 million. If you're interested, the Avengers placed third ($325 million), ahead of Superman ($277 million), although to be entirely fair, DC likely had a hell of a time successfully marketing those "Broken Neck Zod" and "Body-Strewn Metropolis" play sets.
Even better, none of the involved parties lose with the Marvel/Sony deal. Marvel isn't paying Sony for the rights to use Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, nor will they be sharing any of the likely Galactus-sized revenues from the crossover movies. On the flip side of that, Sony doesn't have to pay Marvel any of the revenues from the Spider-Man films that Sony makes, which -- as a result of this cross-platform supersynergy -- might finally reverse the Curse of the Decreasing Box Office Returns.
Or not. Maybe Sony's next Spidey movie will achieve the impressive feat of making even less money than Amazing Spider-Man 2 ... which wouldn't exactly hurt Marvel. They could actually benefit from other studios doing badly with their characters. And so could the fans, because ...
20th Century Fox
Would you be horribly shocked to find out that the latest Fantastic Four movie isn't very good? If so, please tell us where your bunker is, because you're the only one who doesn't know what an appalling, confusing, weird mess this whole thing has looked like since day one. Obviously, we won't know if the movie really sucks until it actually comes out (maybe it only mildly sucks), but judging from the reaction to the first trailer, it's highly likely that Fox are feeling pretty stupid for already greenlighting a sequel.
"No, we greenlit a sequel to the Fantastic ... Fox! Fantastic Mr. Fox 2, yes ... Sure, it's another studio, but still."
So what could they do? Bring Marvel onboard! And by the looks of it, everyone who wants a great Fantastic Four movie is actively rooting against the upcoming film, making it the Springtime for Hitler of superhero movies (but with Latverian dictators instead of German ones). This is the same thought process that led to the Spider-Man deal, so credit where credit's due, it's not a bad plan.
And let's not forget that Fox also owns the film rights to the X-Men, and there's been extremely speculative talk of what would happen if a meeting of Xavier & Co. and the Avengers were to happen. Sure, this could create an insane monopoly that could collapse and take the industry with it, but as long as we get to see Wolverine go mano-a-mano with the Hulk, we're OK with that.
When he isn't doing whatever a spider can, Adam hangs out over at /r/Marvel and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While we're on the topic, also check out 4 Bizarre Choices That Doomed The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and 4 Reasons Spider-Man Is Secretly Bad At His Job.