Spider-Man dispute between Sony and Marvel draws fans into the crossfire


Spider-Man’s future might hang in the balance, but the dispute between Sony and Marvel over the character — having spilled into the public — is another prime example of super-powered silliness, exposing the limits of turning fans and click-hungry websites into foot soldiers in a corporate standoff.

For those preoccupied with, well, practically anything else, the issue appears to boil down to money, as it so often does, and how it’s divided. Sony has long controlled the rights to Spider-Man (Marvel gave them up before becoming master of the pop-culture universe), but after director Sam Raimi’s first two movies, the studio has demonstrated that it doesn’t really know what to do with him.

Marvel, meanwhile, welcomed the opportunity to usher one of its signature characters back into its Marvel Cinematic Universe, providing a helpful boost — especially with the casualties suffered during “Avengers: Endgame” — and enriching the experience for longtime fans.

Having reached an accommodation that gave Marvel creative input in Spider-Man, the companies reportedly began haggling over the deal. The parties aren’t commenting, but that hasn’t stopped concerns about the corporate divorce since the story broke a few days ago.

As leverage goes, Sony would clearly miss Marvel’s knowhow, while Marvel — a unit of Disney — would have to go back to the drawing board, a bit, in terms of building around other characters, something that it has admittedly exhibited a knack for achieving.

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