The Difference Between the MCU and Sony’s Spider-Man Universe

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Credit: Sony Pictures

Spider-Man will soon be swinging into the theaters for, what feels like, the last time. But, with Kevin Feige’s Marvel Cinematic Universe stretching further and further into the future and Sony’s Spider-Man Universe gaining steam, what does the Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures team-up mean for Spidey?

Spiderman with thumbs up talking into a microphone and May Parker
Credit: Marvel Studios/Sony

Marvel Cinematic Universe and Sony’s Spider-Man Universe

What is the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

The Marvel Cinematic Universe was born in 2008 with Jon Favreau’s Iron Man. Since then, Marvel Studios has pretty much delivered annual additions to this ever-expanding Marvel Universe. Now on Phase 4, the MCU is currently made up of 26 films and four canon television series with plenty more to come. The MCU is an interconnected series where all the characters exist in the same shared universe. Well, that was until Tom Hiddleston’s Loki kind of unlocked the Marvel Multiverse in his self-titled Disney+ show.

spider-man tom holland
Credit: Marvel Studios

The MCU’s Spider-Man played by Tom Holland, has appeared in five movies so far: Captain America: Civil War (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019), and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019).

What is Sony’s Spider-Man Universe?

As of August 2021, Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (formerly, Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters) is a shared universe of Marvel films distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing, produced by Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, and Matt Tolmach. While Spider-Man is a Marvel Comics character, the rights to that character are actually owned by Sony and not Marvel Studios. Back in the late nineties, Marvel Entertainment Group sold the Spider-Man rights, and the over 900 characters associated with him, to Sony, and as long as they release a Spider-Man movie every five years. The deal came into effect in 1999.

Spider-Man facing the Sinister Six
Credit: Marvel

So far, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s famous web-slinger has been on the big screen in line with this contract, and Sony has released a multitude of Marvel movies. They include:

  • Sam Raimi’s trilogy: Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), and Spider-Man 3 (2007) starring Tobey Maguire (Peter/Parker), Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane Watson), James Franco (Harry Osborn/New Goblin), and JK Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson), among others.
  • Marc Webb’s duo: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) featuring Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), and Jamie Foxx (Maxwell Dillon/Electro) in the sophomore movie.
  • Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) with Shameik Moore (Miles Morales/Spider-Man) leading an ensemble cast of Multiversal Spider-Man incarnations like Jake Johnson’s Peter B. Parker and Hailee Steinfield’s Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman.
Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man
Credit: Sony Pictures

After Sony signed a deal with Feige’s Marvel Studios to bring the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man into the MCU, Sony then developed the beginning of their own shared universe, the eventual Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, with Venom (2018). Tom Hardy’s villain feature film, while drawing criticism, was popular enough with fans that Sony released a sequel this year — Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021). Sony’s Spider-Man Universe will next bring Jared Leto’s Morbius (2022) to theaters with Kraven the Hunter (2023) starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, coming a year later.

By 2018, Sony executive Palak Patel was overseeing the Spider-Man Universe films for the studio with Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman, Tony Vinciquerra, stating in 2019, that movies have been mapped out for many years to come.

Venom Let There be Carnage
Credit: Sony

What happened with Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios?

Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was primed to launch Sony’s own shared universe to rival that of the MCU, but after the financial and critical failure of the movie, plans to establish the spinoffs were abandoned and a relationship between Sony and Marvel Studios was formed. After Sony’s Spider-Man was rebooted inside of the MCU, Feige stated in 2017 that he had no plans to further include characters like Venom in the superhero universe despite Sony releasing Venom the following year. Pascal later clarified Sony’s position, saying that Sony’s Spider-Man movies would be adjunct and share the same world as the MCU.

andrew garfield spider-man
Credit: Sony Pictures

Around the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019, negotiations between the studios broke down. Sony was actively searching for more Spider-Man films inside of the MCU than were previously agreed, and Disney expressed concern over Feige’s involvement in the character, citing they would need a 25-50% stake for future projects. With an agreement not being made, Sony announced it would be moving forward with the third Spider-Man movie without the involvement of Feige or Marvel Studios.

Vinciquerra issued a statement saying that “the door is closed” on Spider-Man’s future appearances in the MCU, confirming the character would be integrated into Sony’s universe. He said: “Kevin didn’t do all the work… we’re pretty capable of doing what we have to do here.” However, following intense backlash from fans, and Tom Holland actively speaking to Disney CEO Bob Iger and Sony Pictures Chairman, Tom Rothman, negotiations resumed, and with a reported 25% financing for 25% return for Disney, Sony and Disney reconciled and moved to produce the third Spider-Man movie.

tom holland as spider-man shocked expression
Credit: Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures

The new deal allegedly also included one more appearance from Holland’s Spider-Man in a future MCU movie with Feige stating that Spider-Man would likely cross cinematic universes — something Columbia Pictures President Sandford Panitch said Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) would clarify following confusion from fans.

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man

Will Tom Holland be back in the MCU?

Actor Tom Holland will next appear in director Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: No Way Home alongside Zendaya (MJ), Jacob Batalon (Ned Leeds), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Marisa Tomei (May Parker), Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan), Jamie Foxx (Max Dillon/Electro), Alfred Molina (Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus AKA Doc Ock), Willem Dafoe (Norman Osborn/Green Goblin), Thomas Haden Church (Flint Marko/Sandman), and Benedict Wong (Wong), among other actors reprising their roles from Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home. It’s safe to say the No Way Home trailer was packed with surprising events for Marvel fans everywhere.

Tom Holland (L) and Zendaya (R)
Credit: Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures

As for Holland’s return, the actor has been open about his contract being up as Spidey after No Way Home but has also mentioned that he would happily reprise his Peter Parker as and when Feige needed him to.

Will Tom Holland appear in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe?

Right now, there is no confirmation that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man will star in any upcoming Sony’s Spider-Man Universe movies. In fact, it wasn’t until the credits scene in Venom: Let There Be Carnage that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man’s existence in Sony’s Marvel world was confirmed when Hardy’s Eddie Brock saw a familiar scene from Far From Home on television. The scene was reportedly carefully plotted by Sony and Feige’s Marvel Studios.

spider-man tom holland
Credit: Marvel Studios

That being said, Venom sequel helmer, Andy Serkis, has said that Spider-Man would eventually appear in, at least, the Venom franchise but that it would take other movies to get to that point. However, even if Spider-Man does crossover into Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, there is no guarantee it would be Holland in the role. The Uncharted actor has already issued words to his future replacement.

Upcoming Sony’s Spider-Man Universe movies

What Spider-Man movies are coming next?

There are many upcoming Sony’s Spider-Man Universe movies that are underway. These include a third Venom movie, an untitled Nightwatch film, a Sinister Six villains project, a movie based on Madame Web, an untitled film from writer Roberto Orci, another movie based on the character of Jackpot, an untitled film from director Olivia Wilde — which is rumored to be a Spider-Woman centered story and features involvement from Kevin Feige, a rumored Mysterio Sony movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and a possible animated or live-action project featuring Aunt May joining the cinematic universe.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Aside from their Marvel movie output, Sony Pictures intends to release a television series called Silk, based on the Cindy Moon/Silk character in Marvel Comics. Pascal is producing.

The unproduced movie, Sony’s Silver & Black, is being reimagined as a limited series as of January 2020. The potential project will see Felicia Hardy AKA Black Cat and Silver Sable in leading roles.

The future of Spider-Man

Are there any other Spider-Man projects coming soon?

From the Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios, there will be a recently announced animated project coming to Disney+ called Spider-Man: Freshman Year. The cast is yet to be announced.

Spider-Man: Freshman Year logo
Credit: Marvel

What Spider-Man project are you most looking forward to? Let us know down below!

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