Here’s a hell of a thing to come back to after a weekend of getting lost in the natural beauty of Yosemite National Park: Spider-Man producer Amy Pascal has declared that Sony’s slate of Spider-Man adjacent movies, including the Tom Hardy starring Venom and a movie about Silver Sable and Black Cat, will exist in the same world as next month’s Spider-Man Homecoming, including the possibility of appearances by Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Homecoming is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios producer/MCU mastermind Kevin Feige has said that Venom and Sony’s other Spider-Man related titles will not be part of the MCU. Confused yet?
Let’s take a look at the possibilities here, from best case scenario to threat level midnight.
Best Case Scenario: Venom and the other movies are part of the MCU; Kevin Feige is actively involved
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies helped usher in the current glut of superhero blockbusters, but they were good (at least the first two). Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker barely resembled the one Marvel fans expected, but his early forays on the big screen were largely enjoyable. The Amazing Spider-Man series took another swing at the character, and Andrew Garfield’s time as Peter Parker at least captured some of his humor. the movies themselves were nothing to write home about, though.
Basically, Sony hasn’t done the best job with Spider-Man.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t known for producing the widest variety of movies and a lot of its movies feel a little too similar to each other despite genre variation and different creative teams. It is, however, known for producing consistently high quality superhero movies with a lot of polish and attention to detail. Having Feige actively involved in these Spider-Man adjacent movies could only lead to good things—especially considering that would open up the possibility of Spider-Man’s full cast of characters showing up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Alternative, Also Great Scenario: Amy Pascal was incorrect and everything will continue as previously understood
Spider-Man Homecoming and its sequels are part of the MCU, Venom and Sony’s other upcoming movies are not. Everything is fine.
Acceptable Scenario 1: Sony’s movies are in the MCU in the same way the Netflix shows and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are
This would essentially make the movies something along the lines of a comic book limited series or annual. They’re not necessarily canon, but they feature the same characters. Comic fans were able to wrap their heads around this a long time ago, and there’s no doubt that superhero movie fans would be able to do the same.
Acceptable Scenario 2: These movies take place in an Ultimate Universe of sorts
Maybe Pascal meant that Spider-Man could show up in Sony’s movies, not Peter Parker. Miles Morales is just sitting there waiting to show up on the big screen. To be fair, I don’t know if Sony’s Spider-Man movie rights include access to characters created after the deal was made. But if not Miles, it could be Ben Reilly. It could be Superior Spider-Man. Reign. Noir. 2099.
There are a lot of options, and some of them could be really cool.
Threat Level Midnight: Sony destroys the MCU and superhero movies in general after years of seemingly trying to do just that
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is famously known for its existence as an attempt to set up about a dozen other movies rather than focus on its own story. Its underperformance, and Sony’s realization that maybe the world wasn’t ready for (or interested in) all of its planned movies eventually led to the current deal with Disney and Marvel that brought Peter Parker into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That movie itself only exists because Sony rebooted Spider-Man following the crowded mess that was Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 (and the subsequent departure of almost everyone involved).
So of course Sony’s trying to expand its Spider-Man presence again. Tom Hardy as Venom sounds promising, but it’s a slippery slope from there to the demise of the superhero blockbuster thanks to too many movies and too little quality.
In fact, this was Sony’s plan all along. Burned by their lack of success with Spider-Man since 2004 and Marvel’s success with former second and third tier heroes, the company decided to inundate fans with movies until the market dried up, leaving Marvel (and Fox, and Warner Bros. and anyone else making comic book movies) with little ground to stand on. This leads to Sony living long enough to see itself become the villain and uniting the other superhero movie studios to overcome its attacks.
Note: this scenario requires Sony, a global, publicly traded company, to willfully attempt to destroy an entire industry, including their own stake in it, by becoming a supervillain. I give it a 50/50 chance.
Also Possible: Sony can do what it will with its Spider-Man adjacent movies and everything will be fine
Some movies are good. Other movies are bad. Some fall in the middle. Things are going to be okay regardless of where Sony’s Spider-Man adjacent movies end up on the quality spectrum, and it doesn’t matter whether they’re part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or whether their producer thinks they are.
Besides, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is due for a major overhaul after nearly 10 years. Whatever Sony does may not matter anyway.