For the moment, it looks like Tom Holland's Spider-Man is exiting the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following Spider-Man: Far From Home. Although there are conflicting reports about who left the bargaining table first, Disney, Marvel Studios' parent company, and Sony reportedly couldn't come to an agreement, although the precise nature of the impasse -- financing and profits splits, or Kevin Feige's workload -- isn't clear.
Faced with the prospect of a Spider-Man-free MCU, fans have cried out against the deal and the studios' failure to come to terms.
However, there's still a chance that Spider-Man might not be gone from the MCU forever. In the same way that director James Gunn was given another chance to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 after being dismissed from the project last year, it's possible that Disney and Sony could reverse course on the deal.
Most of the specifics of the deal remain undisclosed. However, the following is for sure true: Sony owns the cinematic rights to Spider-Man, as it has since 1999. The two Spider-Man movies that Sony co-produced with Marvel, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, made far more money than previous installments, and the presence of Tom Holland's Peter Parker in Marvel-produced films was mutually beneficial to both studios.
While Sony initially received a massive amount of criticism for its decision to back out of talks, later reports indicated that negotiations are ongoing. While Sony's response to the end of the deal seemed to blame Marvel, it nevertheless expressed a willingness to revisit the matter.
In its statement, Sony said the deal collapsed because of the increasingly full plate of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.
"We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him – including all their newly added Marvel properties – do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own," the statement read.
While this may seem like doom and gloom, it indicates that Sony, very publicly, has expressed a willingness to work with Disney.
So Why Aren't They Working Out a Deal?
In all likelihood, each studio is using fans to exert public pressure on the other.
News on Tuesday of the unraveling of the four-year-old co-production agreement, the topic trended across social media. Everyone had a reaction -- a loud one, and much of the ire was directed at Sony for reportedly backing out of the deal. However, Sony's response pushed the blame back on Marvel.
All of this happens, just before Spider-Man: Far From Home's theatrical release, and before this weekend's D23 Expo, the official Disney fan convention, at which Marvel Studios will have a presentation. Those are two important moments for both studios, as the former will earn Sony even more money -- Far From Home is already its top-grossing film -- while the latter is an opportunity for Marvel to shed more light on its Phase Four slate.
Neither studio wants to cede ground in this standoff, and so public pressure may be the last weapon remaining. Judging by the narrative on social media, Disney is winning, and Sony's statement could be viewed as a defense against public criticism.
DISNEY's JAMES GUNN REVERSAL
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was dismissed from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 last summer after years-old distasteful comments resurfaced. Although Disney stood by its decision for months, the company eventually relented and rehired Gunn in mid-March.
While it might seem as though Disney made a decision it regretted, Marvel reportedly never considered anyone else to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Already, as with the Gunn situation, MCU actors are starting to respond. Jeremy Renner released an Instagram post begging Sony to renegotiate with Marvel. On the whole, Disney itself has been relatively quiet about the whole ordeal.
What Will Happen From Here?
While there's public pressure to keep Spider-Man in the MCU, it's focused primarily on Sony. The studio has already indicated there's a glimmer of hope for an agreement, Disney has yet to release a statement.
Negotiations reportedly are ongoing, but fans have already made their displeasure with the dissolution known on social media. All of those tweets and posts could be used by either side to make a case for a new agreement. Granted, such a deal could take years to come about. But they came to terms in 2015, as unconventional as they may have been, so it's certainly possible they can do so again.