As comic book fans, we’re used to the idea of muddled continuity. But we always thought the movies were supposed to be the place we were free of that. Ever since Sony handed over a piece of the Spider-Man pie to Marvel to try and put some actually palatable flavour into it, however, things have got a teeny bit more complicated.
So, as we all know, the current movie version of Spider-Man exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The imminent Spider-Man: Homecoming is a co-production between Sony and Marvel Studios, and features Iron Man in it as a concession to that. But as Sony have the rights to the entire slate of Spidey characters, they’re free to make movies around those other characters (no matter whether or not anyone else thinks that’s a good idea) – and so that end they’ve already announced standalone Venom and Silver & Black (featuring the Black Cat and Silver Sable) movies.
The big question, however, has been whether or not those films would take place in the same universe that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man exists in. The smart money would have been on them not doing so, which is why it was such a surprise (not just to us, but also to Marvel’s Kevin Feige) when co-producer Amy Pascal said the following:
After a few days of internet memes based around Feige’s reaction to Pascal’s words, however, another round of Homecoming interviews seem to have put paid to that assertion. Fandango‘s Erik Davis tweeted:
FYI: Just spoke w/ Amy Pascal & Kevin Feige who clarified that Venom, Black Cat, etc are in the Marvel comics universe but not the MCU
— ErikDavis (@ErikDavis) June 25, 2017
ComicBook.com claimed the story as an “exclusive”, although since it seems to have been said by Pascal or Feige to several people, “exclusive” seems to mean “this particular interview wasn’t with anyone else”, not “we’re the only people to have found this out”. Anyway, here’s what Pascal said to them:
Here’s what we’re doing: all these characters are a part of the Marvel comic book universe. In that universe, they are all related to each other. Kevin [Feige] makes characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These characters are separate, except for Spidey, who belongs in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is why he’s there.
JoBlo.com also have some slightly different “exclusive” words from Feige:
Right now, Spidey is in the MCU and it’s just Spidey. Civil War, Homecoming, we’ve already shot a lot of Tom Holland’s scenes in the upcoming Avengers films, and we’re just starting to solidify our plans for Homecoming 2 – we won’t call it that, whatever it is – which is exciting because it’ll be the first MCU movie after untitled Avengers in 2019. It’ll be the way Civil War informed everything in Homecoming, those movies will launch him off into a very new cinematic universe at that point. Those five movies are we’re focusing on.
So that all seems pretty definitive. Well, as definitive as you can get given that just the very idea of even Spidey being in the MCU would have seemed incredibly unlikely three or four years ago – hence the “never say never” tone that all parties have still had to adopt when talking about any of this. Simply put, we don’t know how the landscape might change in the next few years, and nothing can really be ruled out.
But assuming it is a definitive answer, where does it leave Sony’s spinoff plans? Those films are in the awkward position of either having to be in a world where Spider-Man doesn’t exist at all; or to be in one where he exists, but they can’t ever show him. We could see Silver & Black working in their own right, but Venom is so closely tied to the idea of there already being a Spider-Man that to try and do a film that disassociates him entirely would seem to be setting the whole thing up for immediate failure.
(A third way would be to introduce a different Spidey to that universe – the way the Flarrowverse has fairly successfully done with Superman – but we refuse to believe that even Sony would pull a move that dumb.)
Whatever happens with Sony’s spinoff universe plans, however, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is very firmly part of the MCU, and will remain that way for the foreseeable. We’ll find out just how much of a good thing that is when Homecoming comes out in a week-and-a-bit.