(CNN) — Spidey’s in danger!
Sony (SNE) and Marvel have failed to reach an agreement on the character of Spider-Man — meaning he’ll be absent from the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the time being and leaving fans very worried.
Sony has said it is “disappointed” that talks, aimed at extending a deal that allowed the superhero to appear in Marvel movies, fell through.
The result is that Spider-Man, most recently played by Tom Holland, won’t be starring alongside Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk and other Marvel favorites any time soon.
And the news prompted #SaveSpiderMan to start trending worldwide on Twitter, as devotees and Marvel stars reacted with anger over the split.
Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye in MCU films including the “Avengers” series and “Captain America: Civil War,” wrote on Instagram: “Hey @sonypictures we want Spider-Man back to @therealstanlee and @marvel please, thank you #congrats #spidermanrocks.”
So, who owns Spider-Man?
Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s most successful characters, having been created by the company’s legendary writer and editor Stan Lee in the 1960s.
But Marvel Studios, the arm of the company that produces its movies, doesn’t own his film rights.
That’s because Marvel put those up for sale in the 1980s, when superhero movies weren’t the surefire moneymakers they are today. The film rights to the character changed hands a few times before being bought by Sony in 1999, for a reported $7 million.
“Spider-Man,” played in 2002 by Tobey Maguire, quickly became a huge box office success for Sony, and arguably prompted Marvel to enter the superhero flick game themselves.
So when the two companies agreed to share his rights in 2015, it felt like a homecoming — Spider-Man was finally able to appear in films in the Marvel Universe.
Now played by Tom Holland, the character has appeared in five Marvel movies since that deal — most recently this year’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
That’s the question fans are asking.
The break in negotiations means Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige won’t be involved in producing Spider-Man films anymore — a change that has left viewers concerned about the cinematic direction the series will take under Sony.
But it’s not immediately clear how permanent the split between the two studios is — and Sony offered viewers a ray of hope in a statement on the matter, saying they “hope” the impasse will be resolved.
“We are disappointed, but respect Disney’s decision not to have him (Feige) continue as a lead producer of our next live action Spider-Man film,” the studio said.
“We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him — including all their newly added Marvel properties — do not allow time for him to work on (intellectual property) they do not own.”
“Kevin is terrific and we are grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue,” they added — a suggestion that Sony doesn’t plan on tearing down the key elements of the franchise.
Whether that means Holland’s job is safe is another question fans are asking.
“Far From Home,” the newest — and possibly final — Spider-Man installment under the Sony-Marvel deal, has been in cinemas for almost two months and has already grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.
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