In the wake of Spider-Man's departure from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which followed the unraveling of the four-year-old co-production deal between Marvel Studios and Sony, fans and pundits have chimed in on what's widely considered a bad move.
Most fans love Tom Holland's Peter Parker as the teen trying to live up to Tony Stark's legacy, and they think it will be difficult for Sony to capture the magic of this version of the wall-crawler without his MCU connections. Amid the whirlwind of speculation arises the notion of whether the studio could again reboot Spider-Man -- a soft reboot, mind you -- keeping Holland in the role while untangling the character from the numerous threads tying him to the MCU. It would be tricky, to be certain, but nevertheless worth pondering.
Tobey Maguire starred as Peter Parker in Sam Raimi's original trilogy, but when plans for Spider-Man 4 fell apart, Sony rebooted the franchise with Marc Webb behind the camera and Andrew Garfield beneath the mask. After two films, 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man and 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony was once again ready to head in a new direction. By early the next year, the studio had entered into an unconventional co-production deal in which a new Peter Parker would be introduced to the MCU. This would become 2016's Captain America: Civil War, allowing Marvel Studios to then collaborate on a Spider-Man movie reboot. Robert Downey Jr. appeared as Tony Stark in 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming, while Holland delivered some of the most emotional moments in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, whose events had an enormous impact on those of Spider-Man: Far From Home.
As a result, Holland's Spider-Man is so intrinsically linked to the MCU that it's difficult to envision how he can be plucked from it without the disconnect being jarring. Aunt May is (sort of) dating Happy Hogan from the Iron Man franchise; Spider-Man is, technically, an Avenger; and Far From Home's post-credits scene revealed that Skrulls (shape-shifting aliens whose rights belong to Marvel) were filling in on Earth for Nick Fury and Maria Hill (again, two Marvel characters). That's only for starters. What happens when all of those elements are abruptly removed?
A (soft) reboot could -- Thanos-style -- snap away those pesky bits of MCU. However, it would likely cause as many problems as it solved. To scrub everyone away like this would feel very odd, especially because Pete's suit and most of his tech are all Stark-related. In fact, the shadow of the MCU looms so big, as seen with the plethora of Iron Man murals in Far From Home. There's just a lot of baggage the ship would would have to steer clear of, which would require deft creative direction, made all the more tricky by director Jon Watts uncertain to return.
Conversely, there are positives to rebooting the franchise and keeping Tom Holland in an isolated space, building out the Spider-Verse Sony desperately wants to hang its hat on. The studio would have a chance to now reset and bring Spider-Man closer to characters like Venom for their iconic rivalry. Not to mention rather than have Peter as Iron Man Jr. with villains such as Vulture and Mysterio influenced by Stark's past, Spidey can live in a world with enemies whose origin stories linked to him and the source material.
Norman Osborn, Mister Negative, Black Cat, Kraven the Hunter, Chameleon and the Sinister Six immediately come to mind; there's also another pocket of the Spider-Verse to explore, with Jared Leto's Morbius film in development. What's worth noting is Sony has a better idea of how to make the franchise successful, thanks to Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios helping to lay the foundation, which means executives can avoid what made Webb's reboot fizzle.
Following Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, fans are also receptive to the idea of a live-action Miles Morales coming into play, so there is a blank canvas for more of Pete's stories to be told with characters rooted in his corner of the Marvel Universe.
Ultimately, a reboot really isn't too far-fetched because Sony knows the formula for mass appeal now, especially with Holland at the wheel, and can work to maximize this so as to capture the magic that the MCU's style of storytelling offered them in the partnership gone sour.