Okay, okay, the superhero Spider-Man, a comic book character that predates the X-Men, never left Marvel. Well, except in one respect: Sony bought the movie rights to the character’s franchise back when no one expected superhero movies to be this big and mainstream.

The cinematic rights to Spider-man had been bought in the 80s, and eventually wound up in Sony’s hands. Marvel has reportedly wanted them back now that they’ve been so successful with their “Cinematic Universe,” the collection of shared-world movies (and now two TV shows, Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter) that began with Iron Man in 2008. It’s been a rumor for years now that Marvel might get Spider-man back, or that Sony might relent and recognize the earnings potential that would come with crossovers.

Unlike most pie-in-the-sky, Internet-geek-community rumors . . . this has now been confirmed as true


I remember watching the first Spider-Man in the theater. I had exams coming up, but my newly-handicapped mother wanted to see a movie and I wanted to see Spider-Man. Now, I have to say that my mother is not a geek. She doesn’t get geeky things. The idea that she might want to see a movie about a guy who gains superhuman powers after being bitten by a spider and then runs around the city in weird spandex never crossed my mind. However, she not only suggested it, she enjoyed herself almost as much as I did.

This wasn’t the first time Spider-Man was in a movie. It also wasn’t the first time a truly successful modern superhero movie adaptation was on the big screen, as X-Men had come out two years before. Yet as Spider-man had done for decades, this movie captured the imagination of the public far more than a team of admittedly badass superheroes. Even Wolverine himself hasn’t been able to stand up to Spider-man’s star power; face it, only one superhero’s mask became synonymous with Marvel Comics.

It’s nice that Sony has wised up. I can’t fault them for not wanting to relinquish the rights to the character and the related franchise elements. It was just odd that they didn’t realize the enormous advantage they were throwing away by insisting on separate franchises.

As a result of adding Spider-man to the MCU, Marvel has updated its movie release schedule. It’s also highly likely that elements of Spidey’s franchise will get sprinkled into other areas of the MCU, which will help spice up the setting with famous characters made all the more conspicuous by their absence. Perhaps we’ll finally get some of Spider-man’s large number of villains in Agents of SHIELD, and maybe even the Wall-Crawler himself eventually.

Now if only the disaster that is the upcoming Fantastic Four movie, which even the writer says has nothing to do with the source comics besides the characters, could turn out to be the impetus to fold that franchise back into Marvel influence. Mind you, I mainly want to see Robert Downey, Jr. trash-talking Doctor Doom. (Please?)