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Sony and Marvel have very different, conflicting ideas as to what is part of the MCU

It all comes down to Venom

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Spider-Man: Homecoming - Spidey in a concrete pipe Sony Pictures

Spider-Man: Homecoming represents a new beginning for both Marvel and Sony — but what that means is still unclear.

Homecoming, first and foremost, is Spider-Man’s big debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although Spidey technically made his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War last year, Homecoming is all about him being made an official MCU member. That’s partially why Iron Man has such a strong presence, the events of Civil War appear in the trailer and why Captain America can be seen starring in a after-school special during one of Peter Parker’s gym classes. Homecoming exists as a reminder that Spider-Man is a part of Marvel, but what does that mean for Sony?

That’s where it gets a little complicated.

In an interview with FilmStarts, executive producer Amy Pascal, who remains in charge of the Spider-Man universe for Sony, said that upcoming projects like Venom will be a part of the MCU. Remember, technically Homecoming is also a Sony project, but Marvel is overseeing the creative side of the movie.

“Well, those movies will all take place in the world that we’re now creating for Peter Parker,” Pascal said. “They’ll all be adjuncts to it. They may be different locations, but it will still all be in the same world. They will all be connected to each other as well.”

If that’s the case, than technically that would mean Venom and Silver & Black take place in the same universe as Spider-Man: Homecoming and, even more importantly, as the MCU. Pascal continued by suggesting there was always a chance that actor Tom Holland’s Peter Parker could appear in Venom or Silver & Black.

“I think one of the things that Kevin [Feige, head of Marvel Studios] has done with Marvel that’s so brilliant is bringing the fans along and making each movie seem like a chapter in a book that you have to read in order to go forward,” Pascal said. “And I think the investment that the fans get to feel in being part of a larger story and understanding what’s happening is something that I know Sony would want to emulate.”

All of which makes sense for Pascal, Spider-Man and Sony at large, but the issue is that Marvel has a completely different idea when it comes to Spider-Man’s future. Just last week, Feige confirmed in an interview with AlloCiné that characters and movies like Venom wouldn’t be a part of the MCU. The Marvel Studios head explicitly confirmed it would remain a part of Sony’s universe, with no connection to Marvel.

“No plans to include [Venom] in the MCU right now,” Feige said. “That is Sony’s project.”

It’s not just Feige who feels that way, either. Homecoming director Jon Watts told Fandango a few months ago there was no overlap between the two universes.

“It’s not. It’s not connected to the Marvel world, so that’s really intriguing … what that will be,” Watts said. “I don’t know anything about it. It’s not connected, so there’s not that overlap. I’m only focused on my movie right now.”

The conundrum that appears is neither Sony nor Marvel know what constitutes a Marvel production. This became a conversation last month when Sony announced that Tom Hardy would star as Venom in the titular stand-alone movie, welcoming the actor to “Sony’s Marvel Universe.” The phrasing of the universe — a world based on Marvel characters but that exists outside of the MCU — caught many off guard. Did this imply that Sony was going to bring Holland’s Peter Parker into its stand-alone features, thus making it an MCU movie by association?

To better understand how Marvel and Sony are approaching the character, a brief history lesson might be needed. Disney and Marvel made a deal with Sony to use Spider-Man without having to pay millions of dollars in licensing fees. Spider-Man movies belong to Sony, not Marvel, meaning the former studio would reap the financial benefits. As part of the deal, however, Sony won’t make any money off of Marvel movies that use Spider-Man, like Captain America: Civil War or Avengers: Infinity War.

This is why it gets complicated. Because Spider-Man is being shared between the two studios, it’s easy to blur the lines as to what constitutes being a part of the MCU and what doesn’t. It’s also something that the two studios will have to figure out as soon as possible as movies like Venom head into production.

For now, the focus remains on Spider-Man: Homecoming, a Marvel Studios and Sony production. But what about Venom or the second stand-alone feature Sony works on? What about future Marvel movies beyond Avengers: Infinity War?

Sony’s Marvel Universe and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe aren’t the same thing, as pointed out by Feige and Watts, but if they’re not careful, they may end up sharing more than just Peter Parker.

Spider-Man: Homecoming will be released on July 7.

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