Marvel and Sony: Big Business
Larasati Oetomo
07 July 2017

After years of perplexing drama between Marvel Studios and Sony regarding the copyright for their comicbooks' heroes, the giants of cinematic studio finally reconcile in 2015 with big deals that never happen before.

The comicheads are in jovial moods. As 21-year old Tom Holland portrays the rebranded version of childhood hero Spiderman in their latest franchise Spiderman: Homecoming, film critiques, reviewers, and filmgoers agreed to give the film a thumb up. Well-known cult movie reviews site Rotten Tomatoes already rated the film "Certified Fresh" even before it hits US' silver screen on Friday, 7 July 2017. But is it really a big deal?

Superhero movies, as we all understand, remain the sexiest business in Hollywood from time to time. Box Office history named an endless list of highest-grossing superheroes movies along other blockbusters. For the past few years, Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) made at least $1 billion revenue for each film produced, with The Avengers and Iron Man being their biggest shot. This is typically contrasted to DC Cinematic Universe, their pop culture nemesis, who struggle to break Box Office's records since Nolan's Batman Trilogy, although the studio start to retrace their DNA with The Lego Batman Movie and Wonder Woman.

Keeping their fans utterly satisfied, Marvel acknowledged clearly that something is, nonetheless, missing. Not actually something, but more precisely someone: one of the greatest cult childhood heroes in red-and-blue suit: Spidey. The coming-of-age hero remained alienated as a sole hero in his standalone universe. Marvel already sold the copyright for Spiderman to Sony long before Marvel ever thought of joining the big film industry.

The deal is settled, and Sony gained large margin of revenue from their first three Spiderman movies, featuring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker and Sam Raimi behind the lens. However, the fame does not go far since Spiderman 3 movie in 2007 - Raimi could not get the script done in time, and Maguire became too old to portray the hyphen-shooter. Reboot version The Amazing Spiderman starring English actor Andrew Garfield cannot even save Sony from the downfall. The sequel of Amazing Spiderman sold out only half the revenue of the first ever Spiderman movie.

Both Sony and Marvel Studio learn a thing from this: that fans are their major asset, and a big number of displeased fans would certainly deliver even one of the most recognized superheroes to his end. The long-standing deal was finally canceled in 2015, and soon reconstructed into brand new agreement. Marvel are given the creative authority in production process of Spiderman movie. The silver screen copyright of Spiderman still belongs to Sony. As the consequence to this, Marvel are not eligible to own any financial profit from the movie.

Why then, Marvel undertake the seemingly futile deal?

Once again, fans are the key. Marvel know how to present the story of their original hero, while Sony has the privilege to share the massive amount of Spidey's fans to Marvel Studio's motion pictures. For the first time, Tom Holland's Spiderman crossed to MCU, appearing in Captain America: Civil Wars. The movie became the highest-grossing movie in 2016. He is also set to take a role in upcoming The Avengers movie next year.

The deal goes the other way too. Sony do not take any cent produced by MCU movies in which Spiderman appears. It is known to cult comic readers that Spidey's act in MCU's Captain America works as a teaser to Sony's Spiderman: Homecoming, while Robert Downey, Jr.'s special appearance as Iron Man in current Spiderman movie prepares the fans to hit the theatre again for upcoming The Avengers movie. With the fans enjoying anticipated crossovers, both movie studios present richer and fresher storylines, and soon gain favorable critiques and financial revenue.

Although the new agreement proves a great deal of efficiency, an untangled conjunction between both Universe remains unclear. Does it mean that Marvel and Sony Universe completely amalgam both Universe, or does it mean a whole different Universe? Right now, it is more possible to call the latter. While Spidey's now free to crossover, other characters from his Universe remain a standalone, namely The Venom who will get his spinoff movie next year. It is also unlikely for MCU heroes to freely wander in Spiderman's Sony Universe. Even so, Sony hinted a joint new universe with MCU, with new agreement is still under evaluation. Whatever would happen in the future, seems like MCU/Sony and their fans are glad with the reconciliation.

PHOTO: Sony Pictures, Marvel Studios