Spider-Man's exit from the MCU was inevitable and neither Sony nor Disney are really to blame
We need to remember that outside of the deal, Sony and Disney have always been competitors. Neither can be expected to sacrifice their profit margin, no matter how it might affect the future of their properties. In fact, it is nothing short of a miracle that the deal happened in the first place
Ever since the news broke that Spider-Man would be leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans have been arguing over who is to blame for the abrupt decision. While most people have taken either Disney's or Sony's side in the debate, there are other factors at play that have unfortunately gone overlooked.
It was initially believed the decision was caused by a disagreement over the profit-sharing structure between Disney and Sony. While this surely did play some part in the final decision, Sony has said that the dispute was actually over Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige's involvement with the franchise.
In a statement released on August 20, a spokesperson for Sony said: “Much of today’s news about Spider-Man has mischaracterized recent discussions about Kevin Feige’s involvement in the franchise. 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. We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him – including all their newly added Marvel properties – do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own. Kevin is terrific and we are grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue.”
It's true that Feige does have a lot on his plate now that the MCU has expanded to include all the Marvel properties that were previously owned by Fox. His involvement was quite central to the original deal that allowed Spider-Man to join the MCU so it is understandable that his exit would have made the partnership less attractive for Sony.
That said, the deal between Disney and Sony was always a precarious one and ultimately doomed to fail. For one thing, it was heavily skewed in favor of Sony and not quite as advantageous for Disney as one might think.
The deal gave Sony Pictures the right to own, finance, distribute and exercise final creative control over the 'Spider-Man' films while Disney got a portion of the profits, merchandising rights and creative input. Disney had reportedly hoped to renegotiate that deal so that future films would be a 50/50 co-financing arrangement between the studios.
While this does mean Disney would have put up half the budget for any future 'Spider-Man' films, it would also have severely reduced the profits Sony stood to make from those films, which is obviously something Sony wasn't going to allow. In the end, both parties were just trying to secure their own business interests and neither is really at fault in this scenario.
We need to remember that outside of the deal, Sony and Disney have always been competitors. Neither can be expected to sacrifice their profit margin, no matter how it might affect the future of their properties.
In fact, it is nothing short of a miracle that the deal happened in the first place. This is something both Feige and 'Spider-Man' star Tom Holland would certainly agree on.
"Basically, we’ve made five great movies,” Holland said during the D23 Expo on August 24. "It’s been five amazing years. I’ve had the time of my life. Who knows what the future holds? But all I know is that I’m going to continue playing Spider-Man and having the time of my life. It’s going to be so fun however we choose to do it. The future for Spider-Man will be different, but it will be equally as awesome and amazing, and we’ll find new ways to make it even cooler."
“I’m feeling about Spider-Man... Gratitude and joy,” Feige said while speaking during the same event. “We got to make five films within the MCU with Spider-Man: two standalone films and three with the Avengers. It was a dream that I never thought would happen. It was never meant to last forever. We knew there was a finite amount of time that we’d be able to do this and we told the story we wanted to tell, and I’ll always be thankful for that.”
Holland has confirmed he will continue to play Spider-Man for at least the two movies that are still on his contract, so we will most certainly be getting more 'Spider-Man' action in the future. And when you really think about it, maybe leaving the MCU was the best thing for the 'Spider-Man' franchise.
While 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' was praised for being the most comics-accurate depiction of the Web-Crawler, 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' was heavily influenced by 'Avengers: Endgame' and didn't quite feel like a proper Spider-Man story. By leaving the MCU, the 'Spider-Man' franchise has the chance to grow outside of the shadow of the Avengers and it might just end up being better for it.