Study Guide

Spider-Man Production Studio

Production Studio

Marvel Studios

One Seriously Tangled Production Web

Spider-Man, a film based on one of Marvel Comics' most beloved characters, was produced by Marvel Studios (formerly Marvel Enterprises).

Shocking, we know.

We also know that you're probably thinking something like this right about now: "so, uh, why is he barely part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?"

Here's the short(ish) answer: back in the '90s, Marvel movies weren't the incredibly hot property that they were at the beginning of the 21st century. (Have you ever seen the trailer for 1994's The Fantastic Four? There's a reason why that was never released.)

So, instead of holding their myriad characters together—Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, et al.—Marvel sold off the rights for those heroes to whatever studios were interested in making movies about them. That means that, while the X-Men and the Fantastic Four are all Marvel characters, their movies are produced by 20th Century Fox.

The first five Spider-Man films, meanwhile, were distributed by Sony. In 2009, Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion, and with that came the rights to Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Black Panther—but not the X-Men, Fantastic Four, or Spidey. (That's why you've never seen Magneto try to ground Iron Man.)

That strange rights-management scheme changed, at least a little bit, with the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017. The third reboot of the Spider-Man franchise saw Marvel and Sony share the rights to Spider-Man.

Kind of.

Sony can still crank out Spider-Man reboot after reboot, but everybody's favorite web-slinger can appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and MCU characters can appear in Sony's Spider-Man movies) for the first time since the MCU's inception in 2008.

Don't hold your breath for other characters from the Spider-Man universe crossing over into the MCU, though. (We're lookin' at you, Venom.) Kwame Opam of The Verge breaks down the unprecedented character sharing, and not sharing, like this:

[...] there's an easy way to think about what Marvel and Sony are trying to pull off: Spider-Man and his universe do technically exist in the MCU, but as a kind of unincorporated territory. His operating grounds have inherent ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since he's appeared in Captain America: Civil War, while MCU characters will appear in Homecoming. But the rest of his world will operate independently. (Source)

See? Sharing really is caring. Mainly about money, but Marvel fans benefit nonetheless.

Spider-Man Saves the Superhero Genre

Marvel's Spider-Man revived the comic-book movie genre that had been on life support ever since Joel Schumacher's critically reviled '90s spin on Batman that turned Gotham into an enormous paintball range built on the grounds of a failed Las Vegas casino.

After Tobey Maguire's 2002 turn as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man raked in almost $115 million over its opening weekend, superhero flicks were suddenly super popular. Between 2003 and 2012, Marvel and DC, the two largest comic-book publishers, produced a total of 36 major motion pictures based on their titles. Even the Fantastic Four, the Punisher, and Captain America got second shots at cinematic greatness.

The MCU didn't officially begin until 2008 with Iron Man, but once it was officially launched? Hold on to your 96-ounce commemorative Spider-Man soda cups.

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