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We Finally Know the Real Reason Why Sony Only Bought the Rights to Spider-Man


Now that Spider-Man has been integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's easy to forget that for years, the character existed in his own little world thanks to years of legal disputes. And now, thanks to a new book about the movie business, we finally know why Sony owned Peter Parker, but no other Marvel characters, for so long.

The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies by Ben Fritz includes an interview with Yair Landau, the executive who was responsible for acquiring the rights to the character for Sony. This was back in 1998; Marvel Entertainment was recovering from financial difficulties, and responded to Landau's request for Spider-Man by saying Sony could have access to pretty much every iconic character in the Marvel stable, including Iron Man and Black Panther, for the sum of $25 million.

Landau informed Sony of this counter-offer, and recalls the reply with remarkable clarity. Apparently, one of the head honchos said: "Nobody gives a shit about any of the other Marvel characters. Go back and do a deal for only Spider-Man."


The decision was a smart one, at least for a little while. Remember, this was ten whole years before Iron Man kicked off the sprawling, multi-million dollar saga that is now ending with Avengers: Endgame. The critical and commercial success of superhero flicks was still in question, and so Sony decided to go with the lowest-risk Marvel character who had the most popularity and recognizable appeal; they were eventually able to buy the rights to Spidey for $7 million.

The investment paid off; Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco, were hits at the box office. They were followed by a reboot with Andrew Garfield, before Spider-Man was finally brought back into the Marvel fold.

Of course, while all this was going on, Marvel Studios were building a giant shared universe, and it stands to reason that at some point they would want their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man back. Due to a licensing agreement between Sony and Marvel, Peter Parker has been appearing in the MCU, played by Tom Holland, since 2016's Captain America: Civil War.

While Peter Parker suffered a (spoiler alert!) pretty devastating fate at the end of last year's Avengers: Infinity War, it's fairly safe to say that Endgame will find a way to bring the character back—he is the first character in the new MCU line-up to have a solo adventure post-Endgame, with Spider-Man: Far From Home coming to theaters on July 2.

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