This story has been updated.
Fan reaction was swift when news spread Tuesday afternoon that Marvel Studios might no longer be in the business of making Spider-Man movies.
Deadline reported Tuesday that Disney, Marvel’s parent company, and Sony have hit an impasse in negotiations over future Spider-Man films — potentially ending a partnership that has been highly profitable for both studios.
Variety reported Tuesday, however, that according to one source, “a deal might still be reached between Disney and Sony.” And i09 said on Twitter that “this dispute is simply over a producer credit and negotiations are ongoing,” according to a Sony representative.
Disney did not respond to a request for comment; Sony refused to comment on the record.
Sony controls the film character, so if the partnership ended, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige would no longer be a credited producer on Spider-Man releases. Plus, Spider-Man would apparently no longer appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Late Tuesday, Sony told the Hollywood Reporter that Disney is to blame for the breakdown in talks.
“Much of today’s news about Spider-Man has mischaracterized recent discussions about Kevin Feige’s involvement in the franchise,” a Sony spokesperson told THR. “We are disappointed, but respect Disney’s decision not to have him continue as a lead producer of our next live action Spider-Man film.”
Feige helped jump-start the character’s cinematic presence after a Sony-produced Spider-Man sequel starring Andrew Garfield commercially underperformed in 2014. The webslinging character rebounded spectacularly in 2016 with a younger British actor, Tom Holland, inheriting the role for the Feige-led Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War.”
Holland then starred in Sony’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” ($880 million worldwide) in 2017 and Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” ($2.05 billion) last year, plus this year’s “Avengers: Endgame” ($2.8 billion) and “Spider-Man: Far From Home” ($1.1 billion). That means the actor’s Spider-Man/Peter Parker has appeared in films collectively grossing nearly $8 billion worldwide, making Holland, 23, a global star. The films have also had a mostly positive critical reception.
Feige has achieved historic box office success since 2008′s “Iron Man” launched the MCU, which has grossed more than $22.5 billion globally across 23 films, including this year’s “Captain Marvel.”
Sony, meanwhile, has several planned projects that involve its Spider-Man universe. It also won the animated feature Oscar this year for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”
By late Tuesday night, the hashtag #SaveSpiderMan was trending on Twitter, and “Avengers” star Jeremy Renner wrote on his social media accounts: “Hey @sonypictures we want Spider-Man back to @therealstanlee and @marvel please. thank you.”
Spider-Man was created by Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in the early ‘60s. Sony won the film rights to the character, with its 2002 “Spider-Man,” starring Tobey Maguire, helping to kick off the current phase in superhero cinema. The franchise has grossed more than $6.3 billion worldwide.
From 2007′s “Spider-Man 3″ through to 2014′s “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” the Sony franchise often seemed to lose its way. Once Sony and Marvel joined forces after that, the mostly positive critical reception to the films with Holland’s Spider-Man has further bolstered Feige’s clout.
Here’s how some disgruntled fans responded on social media: