Hey true believers! We have good reason to hold onto hope that this is NOT the end of Spider-Man in the MCU. That’s because if Sony Pictures goes through with any merger or acquisition, the rights to Spider-Man and all associated characters (Venom, etc.) will automatically revert to Marvel.
What’s been going on
Last week, we saw two things happen. First, Bob Iger, The Walt Disney Company’s mogul CEO, stepped down from Apple’s Board. This move was sparked by the escalation of what people are calling “a streaming content arms race” between Apple TV+ and Disney+. Second, Disney and Sony still have not come to a deal on the teenaged wall crawler’s return.
NOW, Yahoo Finance reported that Apple is working on a “big acquisition” to help beef up its own immanent streaming service. Guess who’s on Apple’s acquisition shortlist — Sony Pictures. Sony’s CEO has stated previously that the company won’t be sold. But with a company that has a market cap of almost $990 Billion (at the time of this article’s publication, that market cap is $988.6 Billion) it’s not hard to believe Apple could give Sony an offer it couldn’t refuse.
AND according to a Forbes report, a complete no-deal walk-away situation with Spider-Man could cause Sony’s stock to drop to a point that makes an acquisition or merger an even bigger possibility. This would happen if Sony Pictures lacked the capability to maintain the value and profitability of stand-alone Spider-Man movies on its own. History shows the best Spider-Man movies to be ones with Marvel and Kevin Feige at the helm, so that does not bode well for Sony.
There is also the question of Spider-Man’s long-term popularity post-MCU breakup. Yes, Tom Holland is amazing. Yes, Spider-Man already has an amazing following. But we have to take into account the fact that MCU “bandwagoners” see the films purely out of the need to continue the saga.
What this means (and what it could mean)
But regardless of what Sony Pictures ends up doing, it has been reported that any merger or acquisition done by Sony will revert the rights of Spider-Man and all associated characters to Marvel. For those keeping score at home, that does include everyone from “Into the Spiderverse” and “Venom.”
It’s a game of chess between Disney/Marvel and Sony. Disney/Marvel is winning. It’s Sony’s turn to move.
Sony could take the big gamble and walk away. It would then be in Disney/Marvel’s interest to NOT make any side deals with Sony to keep Spider-Man in the MCU for the time being. This would put the pressure on Sony to funnel more and more of their own money into disconnected Spider-Man films and hope they continue to bring home equal or greater ROI as the MCU-affiliated films. If Sony fails to hold the height Disney/Marvel has undoubtedly helped them reach, the loss of profits could drive Sony’s stock down enough to attract another company for acquisition or merger.
However, a company like Apple wouldn’t have to wait for this drop to occur and could afford to unintentionally help Disney expedite the process of bringing Spider-Man home.
But if we are Sony, and Sony’s higher-ups who have the pride and guts to stand up to the mighty Walt Disney Company, we don’t want a merger and completely lose the Spider-Man characters. We want to stay independent.
Sony could come back to the table with a better counteroffer and keep the status quo. Disney/Marvel Studios will get a bigger share of the apple (pun intended) but Sony will at least still be profiting off the characters. The streaming wars are heating up though, and Sony is still in the sights for acquisition.
Sony could try to sell the rights to Disney/Marvel Studios. If an acquisition or merger with a company like Apple is an inevitable future, it makes sense for Sony to give in and sell Spider-Man rights to the people who will get him anyway. Although the question would then be if Disney/Marvel has the foresight to see the immanent merger and just wait it out.
But either way, it appears that there is very little Sony can do and Disney/Marvel is only a few moves away from calling checkmate. Love it or hate it, Disney knows how to get what they want. (This writer, however, couldn’t be more excited to have Spidey finally home at Marvel!)