July 7 will see Tom Holland as Peter Parker aka. Marvel’s wall-crawling hero on his first solo outing in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This co-production by Marvel Studios and Columbia Pictures is made possible by an arrangement between Marvel Entertainment and Columbia’s higher-ups at Sony Pictures. They are now co-owner (with Marvel) of film rights to Spider-Man himself, but still the full owner of rights to his supporting characters.

While this deal enables the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler to show up in the MCU, Sony is intent on creating its own Spider-centered Marvel-verse. Sony looks to produce movies based on Spider-Man’s antagonists/supporting cast Venom, Black Cat, and Silver Sable. These films will have little to any connection to the Disney-Marvel cinematic franchise. The setup looks to develop into a situation akin to the comics the characters are based on: “one universe, two worlds.”

Connected but separate

The legal rigmarole regarding which studio can make which films about which characters related to Spider-Man can be quite confusing.

As one of the flagship characters in Marvel Comics, it was long a dream of their filmmaking arm Marvel Studios to reacquire his movie rights from Sony. The latter has already produced five films featuring the wall-crawling hero, starring Tobey Maguire and then Andrew Garfield. Sony eventually agreed to share the rights with Marvel Studios for Spider-Man alone, allowing his appearances in “Captain America: Civil War” and now his “Homecoming” solo film.

But Sony has cannily retained rights to other characters in Peter Parker’s world, most notably some of his rogue’s gallery of super-villains like Venom. His Sony film starring Tom Hardy, and the follow-up with Silver Sable and Black Cat, are expected not to touch on the larger MCU where Spider-Man is now. In a way, if the Marvel Cinematic Universe is compared to the US, the Sony films are comparable to Puerto Rico and Guam. They would exist as part of the greater whole but operate independently.

Conflicting ideas

Part of the reason for the complications between the MCU and the Sony Marvel Universe (SMU) regarding connectivity is the deluge of contradictory statements between the two bosses in charge of these properties. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has stated no involvement in their part for the production of “Venom” saying it’s an exclusive Sony project. But “Spider-Man: Homecoming” producer Amy Pascal, from Sony-Columbia, describes the setup as being still connected, the same world yet in different locations.

One puzzling element of Sony’s other Marvel films is the question of whether Spider-Man himself will appear in them since they feature characters who have been both his enemies and allies in the comics. Perhaps once Marvel Studios has finished with 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” (the last known MCU film with Tom Holland playing Spider-Man), they can discuss with Sony once more.

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