Spider-Man is arguably Marvel's most popular character. The character was launched in the 1960s and quickly became a smash hit. Several animated projects based on the character have been created. But for years, live-action projects were not as successful. A number of ill-advised unauthorized films were produced. But the biggest official contributions were a 1977 television movie followed by a series on CBS.

The last couple of decades, however, things have changed. In a drastic way. Multiples cinematic franchises have hit the big screen since 2002.

It would be understandable for casual viewers to be getting confused by now. And another change seems to be happening.

Sony may be re-claiming sole film rights

Sony owns Columbia Pictures. Every Spider-Man cinematic feature since 2002 has been produced, at least partially, by Columbia. For the last several years, Sony and Marvel Studios have shared an agreement. It has allowed the character to appear in Marvel's projects.

This came from something of an elephant in the room. Even as they became a massive player in the film industry, Marvel Studios was in an awkward position. They didn't have access to some of Marvel's most iconic characters. Film rights to characters like the X-Men and the Fantastic Four belonged to 20th Century Fox.

Those matters have been dealt with separately. But the Sony-Marvel agreement seemed to at least temporarily solve that problem.

Spider-Man had appeared in a number of Marvel Studios Movies, played by Tom Holland: Including this year's controversial "Endgame" and two movies that the character headlined. But this agreement may now be over.

Negotiations to continue the agreement have apparently not gone well, with some reporting they've broken down altogether. CNET reports that the key issue was the level of involvement of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.

Reactions to the news were largely negative - ncluding from Marvel actor Jeremy Renner - as reported by IGN.

But some sources have said the negotiations are continuing. Either way, the Tom Holland version of Spider-Man is to appear in at least two more movies. But it could be tricky for Marvel, largely because of twists in scenes during and after the credits of "Spider-Man: Far From Home". They had apparently been set-up for future Marvel movies. Now things might have to change.

Other movies franchises starring Spider-Man

The first major movie series about Spider-Man was directed by Sam Raimi and starred Tobey Maguire. It began in 2002 with the first movie, simply titled "Spider-Man". Two more installments followed. The second, "Spider-Man 2", has been considered one of the greatest movies of all-time by a number of critics.

It won an Oscar for its visual effects.

A second franchise began ten years later. "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" were directed by the suitably-named Marc Webb. Andrew Garfield played the title character. Despite being very successful, both critically and commercially, the movie series was abruptly halted. The reason was the agreement between Sony and Marvel Studios. Rather than incorporating elements from the "Amazing" movies, it was opted to do another reboot.

"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" is an animated feature film. It was released in 2018 to an overwhelmingly positive reception. The movie won the Oscar for that year's Best Animated Film.

Sony has also been working on a series of films featuring traditional Spider-Man villains. The first, "Venom", was also released in 2018.