Sony and Disney won the internet on Friday. The studios made up, and Spider-Man is returning to the MCU. Not only will Feige and his team work on Spider-Man 3, but the movie already has a firm release date: July 16th, 2021. In other words, the next Spider-Man film just quietly slid into Phase 4, right before Thor 4.
But wait — it gets even better. Marvel may have also quietly hinted that Avengers 5 (or whatever it the next team-up movie ends up being called) is also in the works, and could arrive as soon as Phase 5.
MCU Phase 4 plans
Marvel’s MCU Phase 4 announcement came in three phases. First, Marvel introduced what we thought were all the new movies and Disney+ series that will be part of Phase 4. That happened at San Diego Comic-Con, where we also learned that Marvel is working on a new Blade film, as well as X-Men and Fantastic Four projects. We observed at the time that Phase 4 had none of the MCU’s most popular franchises that are still set to get sequels, including Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Spider-Man.
Out of all of them, we knew that work on Guardians 3 would only start once James Gunn was finished with his Suicide Squad movie. And we explained that Marvel can’t afford not to make another Avengers movie. However, Marvel needs to replenish the Avengers roster with new heroes, following the various departures from Endgame, before trying to replicate Endgame’s success.
A rumor then said that Marvel is toying with the idea of a massive Avengers vs. X-Men event for Avengers 5, although that is something that has yet to be confirmed. Since the event, Marvel revealed the titles of a few additional Disney+ TV series that will be included in Phase 4. And that brings us to Friday’s announcement.
Spider-Man in the MCU
Not counting Spider-Man 3, Tom Holland has been in five MCU movies so far: Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Ignoring the two Spider-Man films, it’s easy to observe that Spider-Man has only appeared in pivotal MCU crossovers so far. Therefore, it’s safe to say the character wouldn’t just pop-in other random MCU films that aren’t crucial to the larger MCU storyline. That’s what you need to know before we look at the new deal.
The new Sony-Disney deal
The new deal was signed late on Thursday night, Variety reported (emphasis ours):
Negotiations involved top players from both studios, including Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman, Feige, and Walt Disney Studios head Alan Horn. In exchange for lending Feige’s producing prowess, Marvel and Disney will receive roughly 25% of the profits, according to insiders. Disney will retain its merchandising rights. As part of the arrangement, Spider-Man will also appear in one future Marvel Studios film.
That “one future Marvel Studios film” could be anything, but doesn’t it seem most likely to be Avengers 5?
Spider-Man, after all, is one of the new, albeit young, leaders of the Avengers. And while Marvel could stick him anywhere, if there really is only one more opportunity to use this iconic superhero before he departs the MCU for good, wouldn’t it make the most sense to put him up against the next universe-threatening villain?
Assuming the “future Marvel Studios film” is indeed Avengers 5, how soon can we expect it to hit theaters?
Spider-Man 3 gives both Marvel and Sony a way to end this MCU Spider-Man story and free Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to be part of the Sony Spider-verse. That’s something that could happen down the road, says Feige:
I am thrilled that Spidey’s journey in the MCU will continue, and I and all of us at Marvel Studios are very excited that we get to keep working on it. Spider-Man is a powerful icon and hero whose story crosses all ages and audiences around the globe. He also happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes, so as Sony continues to develop their own Spidey-verse you never know what surprises the future might hold.
That brilliant Far From Home cliffhanger would have given both studios huge headaches as to how to proceed in their separate endeavors. But a finished Spider-Man trilogy would truly free Spider-Man from the MCU. Avengers 5 meanwhile, would give him a proper exit from the franchise, if that’s really what Sony is after.
How soon will Avengers 5 drop? Well, MCU Phase 5 is the best-case scenario, which could span from early 2022 to late 2023, assuming Marvel copies the Phase 4 schedule. And it’s likely that Avengers 5 would drop towards the end of Phase 5, giving Marvel more time to introduce new heroes and villains.
This is speculation, but it’s based on everything that has happened in the MCU to this point. After all, we did tell you that Spider-Man 3 would drop before Avengers 5, with or without a deal, and that’s what’s happening.