Spider-Man Questions Answered: How Will Peter Parker Fit Into The MCU?

[Additional reporting by Germain Lussier]

It happened: Sony admitted it needed help with Spider-Man, and went to Marvel for an assist. The character will be re-cast, and the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel Studios movie, with a new Sony film to follow in 2017. Marvel's Kevin Feige is a producer on the new Sony film, along with former Sony head Amy Pascal, and the door is open for other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) characters to appear in Sony's effort. This is the situation fans have hoped to see for several years, or something close to it, anyway. But the news also raises many questions. What will the new version of Spider-Man look like? What about Sony's plans for other movies? We address those questions and many more below.

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Which Character Will the New Spider-Man Be?

There is a large and vocal fan contingent that wants to see either Miles Morales, or a non-white actor taking over the role. Kevin Feige isn't afraid to change things up, but he also tends to follows a pretty "down the middle" version of each of Marvel's biggest characters.

Which is to say that I bet he'd like to see a Miles Morales movie as much as many of us would, but that he'll probably go with Peter Parker. Let's assume that Feige will accept having the chance to play with Spider-Man stand as his real win, and not try to push things with a new version of the character that will further challenge Sony's corporate status quo.

Spider-Man doesn't have to be an anchor for Marvel, which means the studio can look at him with a playful eye. But he is very much an anchor for Sony, and Sony isn't traditionally a risk-taking company. That doesn't mean we aren't wondering if this seems like an opportunity to balance the goodwill of having Spidey back under partial Marvel control with a little risk-taking, especially in light of what Sony is doing with Ghostbusters. But in this case, the risk-taking could be in the structure of multi-studio crossovers and the way the character's backstory is presented. And the press release specifically mentions the name Peter Parker, which is about as good an indication as you need that Sony plans to stay on that course.

  • The Safe Bet: Peter Parker returns, with a slightly retooled backstory.
  • The Longshot: We see a masked Spider-Man throughout his first appearance in Civil War, and his unmasking reveals Miles Morales.

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If it Is Peter Parker, Which Peter Will it Be?

Good question! Sony has two films of very questionable continuity built up, but they've started to build the idea of a number of spin-offs based on that continuity. Will the next film carry forward from there? That would be helpful with respect to any further plan for spin-offs at Sony.

But the backstory in those films — Peter's parents, and the handling of much of his life — is not what Spider-Man is all about. So we can see Feige and Pascal engineering a selective reboot. The problem is that retaining anything from the two Marc Webb films means keeping a crappy version of Peter's family, and a lousy rendition of Uncle Ben's death. So odds are on this being Peter Parker, but yet another new version of the character.

We're hoping in some ways for a younger Peter Parker, as his age would immediately set him apart from Marvel's existing heroes.

  • The Safe Bet: We'll see a softly "recalibrated" version of the character and his history.
  • The Longshot: This will be an all-new character, with none of the recent Sony backstory.

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What Happens With the Villains?

Spider-Man and his villains are one in the same. With one comes the rest. So it's a pretty good assumption that Spider-Man's villains are now in play for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, too: Green Goblin, Venom, Doc Ock, Kraven, Sandman, Hobgoblin, the list goes on and on. We'll likely see one or a combination in the 2017 solo film.

While the 2016 release date for a Sinister Six movie has been postponed, it is still going to happen, at least as far as Sony believes right now. That movie would not, hypothetically, take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and as a reboot for all these characters, could make a lot of sense. Here's a crazy idea – what if the 2017 film is Spider-Man vs. The Sinister Six? You introduce them all, and they can take part in Infinity War?

  • The Safe Bet: Spidey's villains are primarily seen in his own films at Sony.
  • The Longshot: Some villain characters, perhaps the Goblin or Venom, end up in the MCU.

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Which MCU Movie Will First Feature Spider-Man?

We could see Spider-Man in a film as early as Avengers: Age of Ultron or Ant-Man, perhaps in a post-credits stinger using an all-CG Spider-Man based on existing assets. But more than that would require a very fast casting process, a very quick bit of writing, and hasty costume work. We've seen Marvel do all these things before, as with Thanos in the first Avengers. But with a character as big as Spider-Man, we're hoping they'll be a bit more deliberate. Thanos was, after all, just something they tried on for size, and it happened to fit. (That said, the Amazing Spider-Man 2 costume was great, and if it was simply re-fitted for a new actor, we'd be happy to see it, or a version thereof, back in action.)

Expect to see Spider-Man show up in Civil Warset for release just over a year from now in May 2016. That still means the Spider-Man role has to be cast fairly soon.

  • The Safe Bet: Captain America: Civil War
  • The Longshot: Peter Parker appears in a post-credits stinger attached to Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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With Spider-Man Back in Marvel's Manhattan, What About the Netflix Shows?

Marvel Comics distinguished itself by setting stories in a "real-world" New York City (and surrounding boroughs) back in the '60s. There are a bunch of Marvel heroes, but Spider-Man has long been the Marvel mainstay in Manhattan. So Netflix is making a set of shows that are all very specifically set in NYC, and which could, maybe, intersect with the MCU. (Even if the precise method of that is yet to be revealed.) So will Spider-Man show up in those shows? Almost certainly not. But aspects of his stories might be reflected – specifically, we could see the Daily Bugle used as a reference or in a more explicit manner.

  • The Safe Bet: We'll see the Daily Bugle in Daredevil or another Netflix show.
  • The (Very) Longshot: Peter Parker will cameo in one of the series.

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Avengers Infinity War Logo Officia

What's Spidey's Role in the Next Avengers Movies?

All we know is: he's got a part. The fact the new Spider-Man movie was slotted into July 2017, the year before Avengers: Infinity War starts, is a dead giveaway that the webslinger will have a role in the insanity. Since we don't know what or who is in the movies from the original cast of Marvel Cinematic Universe characters, it's hard to speculate as to what Spider-Man's role is, but he's Spider-Man. You'd have to imagine he'll be a good guy, fighting the bad guys. He's also been in The Avengers many times over his comic book history. Spidey is a team player, and he's going to have to be to help everyone else defeat Thanos.

  • The Safe Bet: Spider-Man will be an important secondary player in Infinity War.
  • The Longshot: Spidey will be written as an integral part of the Infinity War story, perhaps in a way to set up Miles Morales.

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Will we get another origin story?

We're going to guess no. Kevin Feige is very savvy with respect to origin stories — he has said specifically that Marvel movies going forward won't be origin stories. That's not to say they won't contain character origins, but don't expect a movie-length origin story. Feige knows that the entire world knows Spider-Man's origin and isn't interested in seeing it again. But if this really does end up being a new version of Peter Parker, they'll have to establish a few things just to make clear that the mistakes of the past films are off the table.

  • The Safe Bet: Spider-Man's origin will be seen in flashbacks, to establish key characters and concepts.
  • The Longshot: We won't see an explicit reference to his origin at all, allowing the character to simply move forward.

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Now What Happens to the Other Spider-Man Movies at Sony?

Some are probably dead, or at the very least must be revamped. For one, one key actor is going to be different, and the general portrayal of the character could be different. But we're told the Sinister Six film is still happening, so that's a starting point. The all-female team movie is probably gone, at least until Sony sees how Ghostbusters performs. And let's face it: some of the characters that would be set for Sinister Six are fairly terrible, thanks to their incarnations in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. If Spidey is going to be softly rebooted, those characters could be, too.

  • The Safe Bet: The Sinister Six is quietly reworked as another Spider-Man sequel.
  • The Longshot: All other spin-off movies are canceled without much fanfare, in favor of further Spider-Man sequels.

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Is Andrew Garfield Out?

Definitely. He's collateral damage here. Andrew Garfield did a lot of good things as Spider-Man, and we firmly believe he could have been truly great in the role had he been given scripts that were properly formed, and had the character's best interests at heart.

  • The Safe Bet: Andrew Garfield is out.
  • The Longshot: No, really, he's out.

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Marc Webb Amazing Spider-Man 2

Is Director Marc Webb Out?

Yeah, he's gone, too. Reportedly Amy Pascal liked working with him, and he definitely liked working with her. We wouldn't pin most of the failures of the last two films on Webb. He had some good ideas, but it seemed like his ideas and those of producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach didn't often mesh. Plus, he had to deal with a Kurtzman and Orci script. All Webb has said on Twitter since this announcement broke was to offer thanks to a fan who offered an appreciation of Webb's movies.

  • The Safe Bet: Sony will hire a new director for the 2017 film.
  • The Longshot: Webb will have a producer or exec producer role on the new film, but it'll be a formality.

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Is Producer Avi Arad Out?

That's tricky, but it looks like he is, essentially. He and Matt Tolmach, his partner in crime on the last few movies, are listed as exec producers in the press release announcing the new movie and MCU collaboration. But Feige effectively replaced Arad at Marvel Studios, and it was Feige, with Isaac Perlmutter, who helped turn the company into the juggernaut it is now. Arad is working on other projects, and there are reports, such as one from Variety, that say he's ready to step back from the Spider-Man machine. That's perhaps the best news in this whole deal.

  • The Safe Bet: Arad will have some influence, but he'll defer to Feige and Pascal.
  • The Longshot: Feige and Pascal will be able to make a film without Arad's influence at all.

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Does This Mean Spider-Man Rights Are Back at Marvel?

No. There's basically a share deal going on. The question we really need an answer for is "how long will Sony and Marvel collaborate?"

Spider-Man 2017 will be a Sony film, only with Kevin Feige as a producer alongside Amy Pascal. The press release announcing this deal was very particular about that fact. ("Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films.") Sony clearly sees this as a way to connect its own efforts to Marvel, with the option of having MCU characters show up in the new feature. And to make that happen Marvel gets a little bit of control over the character. For us, it's a win-win.

There are already questions about how much creative control Sony will have. That's impossible to know at this point, but the takeaway should be this: Sony wants to reverse the downward trajectory of Spider-Man's creative and (more importantly) revenue potential, and they see the hit-making magic of Kevin Feige and Marvel as a way to do that. In other words, Sony is doing this because they think it's a good idea for Sony. To that end, we're guessing that Sony will allow Marvel to have significant input, in a way that allows Sony to continue to appear to have some power in the situation.

  • The Safe Bet: Sony will give Feige and Marvel enough leeway to re-energize Spider-Man.
  • The Longshot: Sony will limit Marvel's input to the 2017 film and a set of MCU appearances, then attempt to take control again.