For all the exciting announcements made at Disney's D23 Expo, there was one burning question on the lips of every MCU fan, "Is Spider-Man REALLY out of the MCU"? Just in case you didn't know, earlier this week it was revealed that negotiations between Sony and Marvel Studios to share Spider-Man failed to reach terms to extend the deal. Back in 2015, the two studios struck a deal to allow a new version of Peter Parker to appear in Captain America Civil War and two Avengers sequels with Marvel's Kevin Feige having a creative hand in developing standalone Spidey films for Sony.
The unlikely alliance was a first of its kind deal, one that few fans expected to see in this iteration of the MCU. Since news of the breakup was announced, fans have been hoping for a turnaround on the decision which would prevent Spider-Man showing up in any Marvel Studios films, or for Sony to use any of the MCU characters. Speaking at D23, Kevin Feige made his first public comments about the collapse of the Sony deal;
“I’m feeling about Spider-Man gratitude and joy. 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.”
After Sony's recent comments, this is all starting to sound like Thor claiming his break up with Jane Foster "was a mutual dumping". Discussions to extend the deal to share Spider-Man began earlier this year, so Feige clearly wanted to make more Spider-Man movies and continue to use the character in future MCU projects. After all, they just announced a new Spider-Man animated series for Disney Junior, Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends.
Looking at the arc of Peter Parker/Spider-Man throughout his five appearances, a strong case could be made for it telling a reasonably complete story. We're introduced to a pre-bitten Parker grappling with his newfound powers; he wants to be an Avenger yet has to learn what it means to be a hero from his unlikely mentor, Tony Stark. By the end of Far From Home (echoing Iron Man), Peter's world is forever changed, leaving the possibilities for a sequel wide open. Even Spider-Man himself, Tom Holland, had to pick his words carefully when addressing the issue at the D23 Expo;
“It’s been a crazy week, but I want to let you know I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart. I love you 3,000.”
I'm not sure if that further fuels the "this is totally over forever" or offers even a glimmer of hope as these decisions are above his paygrade. Be that as it may, fans are understandably upset that Sony and Marvel failed to reach agreeable terms, while it all came down to money, it is ultimately the fans that lose out. Looking at the situation from a glass half full point of view, nobody every believed Spider-Man would ever get the chance to be in the MCU, so who knows what the future may hold.