Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures surprised the entertainment world late Monday night with the joint announcement that the two studios have reached an agreement to share live-action control of Spider-Man -- big news for fans who had been hoping for years to see Spidey, licensed to Sony since 1999, share the screen with Marvel Studios' roster of superheroes.
That major news prompted plenty of lingering questions among very interested fans and observers, and while concrete information remains scarce, further reports have helped something of a clearer picture develop. Here's what we know so far about Sony and Marvel's partnership, and what it means to Spidey's film future.
Sony Still Owns the Live-Action "Spider-Man" Rights
It's an important distinction to make: Marvel and Disney didn't acquire the rights to Spider-Man from Sony. The character is still under Sony's domain, and the initial press release makes it clear that the studio will "continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films."
It's also notable that while it's plainly stated that the new Spider-Man will debut in a Marvel Studios film and that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige will co-produce the next solo Spidey movie, no further concrete Spider-plans have been officially announced. The announcement said Marvel and Sony are "exploring opportunities" for Marvel Cinematic Universe characters to appear in future Spider-Man films, but nothing firmer than that at this time.
No Money Exchanged Hands Between Marvel and Sony
Multiple sources -- namely The Hollywood Reporter and Variety -- have reported the unusual financial terms behind the Sony/Marvel pact. Reportedly, no money has changed hands at this point, nor does that appear to be the plan -- Marvel Studios won't pay Sony for using Spider-Man, and Sony won't get a cut for Spidey's appearances in Marvel films. Conversely, Marvel is said to not get a percentage of box office from Sony's Spider-Man films.
It's an unconventional arrangement, but one that appears mutually beneficial: not only does Marvel get to use its most famous characters in its films, it controls Spider-Man merchandising, and thus stands to profit from the character having as high of a profile as possible. Sony gets to revitalize a key franchise by partnering with Marvel Studios' highly successful series of films, which in 2014 produced two of the four highest-grossing movies of the year.
A New Live-Action Spider-Man is Scheduled for 2017
This one is pretty simple: A new Spider-Man solo movie, co-produced by Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal -- who recently announced her departure from her position as Co-Chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment -- has been scheduled for July 28, 2017, though that's about the only detail known for sure about the film.
Andrew Garfield and Marc Webb are Out
The announcement proclaiming the Sony/Marvel deal made it fairly obvious -- using the phrase "the new Spider-Man" -- but a subsequent report on The Wrap spelled it out that actor Andrew Garfield, who played Peter Parker/Spider-Man in 2012's "The Amazing Spider-Man" and 2014's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," won't be back in the role. Following that, THR reported that Marc Webb, director of those films, also won't be returning.
Beyond that, "Amazing Spider-Man" producers Matt Tolmach and Avi Arad are said to both be executive producers on the new Spidey film, though according to THR it'll be "with no real say in the creative direction of the franchise." Arad has worked on every Spidey film since the 2002 original.
A Younger Spider-Man is Expected to Be Cast
The next Spider-Man won't be Andrew Garfield, and it looks like he'll be a "much younger" performer than the 31-year-old actor -- those words in quotation marks are exactly what THR said Sony is looking for in its next well-crawler. As of a a Tuesday report from Variety, no actors are said to have been yet approached, but Dylan O'Brien (23) and Logan Lerman (23) are both named as under consideration.
The New Spider-Man Will Debut in A MCU Film -- But Which One Isn't Yet Known
Whoever the new Spider-Man will be, he'll first be seen in a Marvel Studios film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as revealed in the initial announcement -- though what that film is remains to be seen. There's been a lot of speculation that it's 2016's "Captain America: Civil War" -- the timing seems to be right, and Spider-Man played a major role in the original "Civil War" comic book story -- but that hasn't yet been officially confirmed.
Spidey Spinoffs Are Still Happening
With a new Spider-Man and Marvel Studios involvement, the future of Sony's planned Spidey spinoff films was uncertain -- but for now, it looks like they're still a go. The Wall Street Journal reported that "Sinister Six" is still in development, though delayed from its former Nov. 11, 2016 release date; Variety had word that "Venom" and a female-led Spider-Man spinoff were both still in motion. Kevin Feige is not currently expected to be involved creatively in the spinoffs, according to Variety.
Peter Parker Appears To Be the Plan, At Least For Now
There's been a lot of discussion about the possibility of the new big-screen Spider-Man being Miles Morales -- the half-Black, half-Puerto Rican Spider-Man of Marvel Comics' Ultimate Universe -- but the press release announcing the news specifically used the name "Peter Parker."
"This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker's story into the future," Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group President Doug Belgrad said in a statement.
A subsequent Variety report from Tuesday made Peter Parker seem like less of a sure thing, with the outlet stating Sony "needs to figure out" if it wants to use Peter Parker or Miles Morales. Even if Sony does go with Peter Parker again, that doesn't rule out the possibility of a minority actor playing the role -- similar to Michael B. Jordan playing the traditionally white Human Torch in this summer's "Fantastic Four" reboot film.
Four Marvel Studios Films Are Moving Dates
July 28, 2017 is now the release date of the next "Spider-Man" film, but it used to be the release date of Marvel Studios' "Thor: Ragnarok." That's now shifted to Nov. 3, 2017, and caused a chain reaction of shifted release dates for upcoming Marvel Studios films: "Black Panther" has moved to July 6, 2018, "Captain Marvel" has moved to Nov. 2, 2018 and "Inhumans" has moved to July 12, 2019.
Each individual delay is less than a year, but the moves still have some fans upset -- especially given that the wait will now be longer for "Black Panther" and "Captain Marvel," the first Marvel Studios films set to have a Black superhero and a female superhero as lead characters, respectively.