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Marvel and Sony have cut a deal to keep Spider-Man in the MCU

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige will co-produce the third Tom Holland Spider-Man movie.

Zendaya and Tom Holland as MJ and Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Zendaya and Tom Holland as MJ and Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Columbia Pictures
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

It’s like he never left: Spider-Man is back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios have announced that they have brokered a deal to keep the webslinger in the MCU, with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige producing the upcoming third Spider-Man film — slated to arrive in theaters on July 16, 2021.

“I am thrilled that Spidey’s journey in the MCU will continue, and I and all of us at Marvel Studios are very excited that we get to keep working on it,” Feige said in a statement obtained by Variety. “Spider-Man is a powerful icon and hero whose story crosses all ages and audiences around the globe. He also happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes, so as Sony continues to develop their own Spidey-verse you never know what surprises the future might hold.”

In late August, a source told Deadline that Sony and Marvel had come to an impasse over the continuing MCU presence of Spider-Man, as played by Tom Holland. Going forward, Marvel — which had sold Spider-Man’s film rights to Sony after filing for bankruptcy in 1996 — reportedly wanted a larger cut of the gross revenue percentage made by the studios’ co-produced films than Sony was said to be offering. (The studios’ two collaborations so far, 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and this year’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, were both very successful.) Sony then seemed to double-down on the report in its own statement on the matter, suggesting that Feige was too busy with other projects to fully commit to Spider-Man.

The broken partnership came as a shock to Marvel fans, who have taken to Holland’s portrayal of the webslinger and how successfully Marvel wove the character into its filmic universe. And the most recent Spider-Man film, Far From Home, earned widespread acclaim in July.

But to many industry observers, the leaked report about Sony and Marvel’s rocky negotiations never raised concern that Spider-Man’s existence in the MCU was in any real danger — even though there were some words from Feige to Entertainment Weekly, saying the Spider-Man deal had always been temporary.

Marvel had structured its recent movies around Spider-Man’s relationship with Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, and put both heroes front and center in Avengers: Endgame. Meanwhile, Far From Home is Sony’s biggest movie to date (having earned $1.1 billion worldwide), most likely benefitting from its Avengers connection as the first Marvel-related film to arrive after Endgame.

Both studios gain a lot from having Spider-Man in the MCU. And for now, they will continue to do so.