The apparent unraveling of the unconventional agreement between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios to co-produce Spider-Man films has roiled Hollywood and fandom, raising questions about the future of the wall-crawler's franchise and, to an extent, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which must now untangle itself from the iconic hero. More immediate, however, is where this corporate impasse leaves actor Tom Holland, who's played Peter Parker onscreen since 2016's Captain America: Civil War.
Holland, then 19 years old, was propelled to international stardom in June 2015 when he was cast as Peter Parker, just four months after Marvel and Sony announced their deal to collaborate on Spider-Man's big-screen: The young actor would make his debut in what would become Civil War, cementing his web-slinger in the MCU, while Marvel would co-produce Sony's 2017 franchise reboot, Spider-Man: Homecoming. Sony would finance, distribute and retain ultimate creative control over the Spider-Man films, while Marvel had access to use the character in the MCU.
As unorthodox as the arrangement was, it appeared to pay off for both studios -- at least, until this week. Holland's Peter Parker had prominent roles in Marvel's Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, in which he shared perhaps the most emotionally devastating scene, and returned for the climax of Avengers: Endgame in time to bid a tearful farewell to Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark. Sony, meanwhile, found critical and commercial success with Spider-Man: Homecoming, which grossed $880.2 million worldwide, and its sequel, Spider-Man: Far From Home, which has earned $1.1 billion, and counting, unseating Skyfall as the studio's top-earning film ever.
For those counting, that's six films in which Holland, now 23, has appeared as Peter Parker. A new report indicating he has a contract option for one more picture appears to be correct.
Holland told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016 that he was contracted to appear in three Marvel features and three Spider-Man solo movies, which presumably leaves only the sequel to Far From Home as part of the original agreement.
"They give you options and those could be exercised whenever. Like a cameo in Avengers," he said. "I'm unclear as to which movies though. I do know I have three Spider-Man [appearances in other] movies and three solo movies contracted. But if you have another movie, Marvel is so good at working around it. They’re very respectful of your life, really. They understand that you have to work on other movies, and they try and fix it up so you can work around each other."
Obviously, contracts can be renegotiated, as Marvel Studios famously did with such stars as Downey, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth, to extend the number of films. It's no secret that Sony would love to have Holland's Spider-Man cross over with Tom Hardy's Venom, whose 2018 film was a surprise success. But to do so, and still produce Spider-Man 3, the studio would have to hammer out a new agreement with Holland.
Now in theaters, director Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Far From Home stars Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon and Martin Starr, with Marisa Tomei and Jake Gyllenhaal.