It's no secret that Marvel is really unhappy with the way Sony has handled the cinematic version of Spider-Man, one of Marvel's flagship superheroes, or that Marvel and Sony have had talks on bridging the gap and letting Spidey play with all of his friends. Now word emerges that Marvel wants a clean break from Sony's Spider-Man, but could that mean a break from Peter Parker as well?
The newest reports spin out of the massive hack of Sony's servers by parties unknown, a digital heist job that's lain bare a wealth of information on just how Sony goes about its business. Earlier this week, documents emerged showing that Sony and Marvel had engaged in talks on bringing Spider-Man home, with the two entertainment giants discussing a 60/40 split on the rights to Spider-Man and the potential for the Marvel hero to appear in the third installment of Marvel's Captain America series.
The talks have yet to yield anything concrete, and they may well have stalled, but Latino-Review claims to have new inside information that sheds light on just how dissatisfied Marvel is with Sony's Spider-Man efforts to date.
Latino-Review's sources claim that Sony's bungling of the Spider-Man franchise so far has the higher-ups at Marvel pretty disgusted. Prior to the incredible success of Marvel's Avengers franchise, Spider-Man was Marvel's most recognizable character outside of the X-Men, but Sony has struggled in turning the webslinger into a reliable franchise. With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 underperforming at the box office, Sony has been pursuing a few odd angles to continue to cash in on Spider-Man, including not only a female-centric spin-off, but also possibly a prequel movie based on Spider-Man's Aunt May. That's in addition to Sony's previous Spider-Man sins.
Sony's apparent flailing has Marvel anxious to bring Spider-Man back into the Marvel fold, and a Marvel take on the character would reportedly wipe the slate clean with regard to Sony's five previous Spider-Man movies.
"The idea is that the Spider-Man romance movie has been played out over five installments, so any new Spider-Man films would focus on the difficulties of being a teenager and a superhero with a romance side-story, not the film's focus. Marvel also thinks that the origin story is well-trodden territory, so any Spider-Man movies under this deal would begin with Peter Parker already leading a dual life."
Were Marvel to get its hands back on Spider-Man, that would likely mean that Andrew Garfield would be out as Peter Parker, another casualty of Marvel's clean slate with the character. There's an outside chance, though, that Marvel could throw a real curveball at Spider-Man fans and toss out Peter Parker entirely.
Spider-Man without Peter Parker? How would Marvel pull that off? Well, it turns out that Marvel actually has two Spider-Men at its disposal. (Well, more than that, considering Spider-Man 2099, but that's another story.) There's Peter Parker, the Spider-Man we all know and love from the regular Marvel Universe, but there's also Miles Morales, introduced in the last couple of years as the new Spider-Man of the Ultimate Marvel Universe.
The long and short of it is that the Ultimate Universe is a parallel universe to Marvel's regular universe. In the Ultimate comics, Peter Parker has already died – and come back, but again: another story – and Miles Morales has taken up the mantle of Spider-Man.
Miles' powers are, for the most part, similar to those we've come to expect from the traditional Spider-Man, with a few exceptions. The Ultimate Universe Spider-Man can effectively turn invisible, and he's got a strange "venom blast" that can incapacitate opponents with a touch.
Why would Marvel ditch Peter Parker in favor of Miles Morales? Doing so would allow the House of Ideas to completely break with the past in terms of the existing Spider-Man movies. There would be a few questions, of course, but those would only extend as far as audiences expect some sort of continuity in comic movies.
A switch to Miles would also be somewhat in keeping with the thrust of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which already borrows heavily from the Ultimate Universe in the look and feel of its characters, as seen with the Sam Jackson-version of Nick Fury.
It would also allow Marvel to address one of the more notable controversies over its superhero movies, a decided lack of diversity in the characters that are wearing the tights. Black Panther and Captain Marvel will no doubt help address Marvel's diversity gap, and The Inhumans will likely do even more, but the addition of a mixed African-American and Latino Spider-Man would do wonders for the company's image.
How likely is any of this? That's hard to say right now. Marvel has been pushing Miles Morales as a character for some time now, and the Ultimate Spider-Man enjoys a good deal of popularity. He will likely figure largely in next summer's Secret Wars comic crossover event, and he's currently enmeshed in a crossover event with the X-Men in space-time spanning story that... well, again: whole other story. The takeaway is that Marvel obviously has big plans for Miles Morales, but they're keeping a lid on exactly what those plans are. Having Miles take a bigger role in the regular Marvel Universe, though, would be one way of increasing the character's visibility ahead of introducing him as Spider-Man in the Marvel movies.
But at the same time, it's hard to imagine that Marvel would truly drop Peter Parker just to spite Sony. There's also the fact that no one outside of Marvel and Sony knows for certain if talks between the two companies are still ongoing. Latino-Review says that, "as of now, Spider-Man will NOT be in Civil War," and that the movie's architects already have a script nailed down for the 2016 blockbuster.
Still, don't be surprised if Spider-Man does pop up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe some time in the future. What's more, don't be surprised if it's a different Wall-Crawler than the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man you've come to know.