Spider-Man: Far From Home star Tom Holland took the stage at Disney’s D23 Expo to promote Pixar’s upcoming animated fantasy Onward, but found a little room for Marvel fans.
After a week of drama between Disney/Marvel Studios and Sony, butting heads then breaking up over the deal that allowed Spider-Man to appear in several Marvel Cinematic Universe films including Avengers: Endgame, the room was tense when Holland stepped out to greet the D23 audience. He broke his silence since the business conflict went public, without being too overt about picking sides.
“It’s been a crazy week,” he said, “but I want to let you know I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart. I love you 3,000.”
Will that line ever fail?
On Tuesday, news broke that Disney was playing hardball with Sony over Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige’s involvement as a producer on future Spider-Man films. All signs pointed to the end of the historic deal that allowed Holland to crossover into the MCU. The behind-closed-doors negotiating eventually forced Sony to issue a statement about Feige’s departure.
“We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him — including all their newly added Marvel properties — do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own. Kevin is terrific and we are grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue.”
While many fans screamed and shouted in both directions, blaming major corporations for wheeling and dealing with IP they treasure, major names involved with the franchises also spoke out on Spider-Man and Holland’s behalf. On Instagram, Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) issued a direct blow to Sony, despite most of the reporting indicating that Disney was the company trying to get a bigger stake in the franchise’s profits and pulling Feige out over a failed deal. “Hey @sonypictures we want Spider-Man back to @therealstanlee and @marvel please, thank you,” he posted.
Joan Lee, daughter of Stan Lee, had less than kind words for Disney in the wake of the news.
“Marvel and Disney seeking total control of my father’s creations must be checked and balanced by others who, while still seeking to profit, have genuine respect for Stan Lee and his legacy,” she told TMZ. “Whether it’s Sony or someone else’s, the continued evolution of Stan’s characters and his legacy deserves multiple points of view.”
Jon Favreau, who has appeared in the Spider-Man films as Iron Man confidante Happy Hogan, was a little more optimistic.
“We’ve all read rumors, we’ve all read press releases, but you never know what’s going to happen. I’m holding out hope and being optimistic that this isn’t the final chapter of that story between those characters,” he told Variety at the D23 Expo. “I would love to see those characters continue to share the screen together. And I don’t just mean Happy and Aunt May, I mean Tom Holland, Spidey and the other heroes from the MCU.”
But throughout the week, Holland kept silent. On Instagram, the star revealed that he blew off some steam by taking a hike with Robert Downey Jr.. Stars are just like us!
For now, the future of Spider-Man and the MCU remain unclear. Holland is expected to resume his position as the friendly neighborhood hero, as long as the contracts hold and Sony wants him. According to a Deadline report late on Friday, Disney/Marvel apparently want Far From Home director Jon Watts on their team, and hope to lure him away from the third installment, currently being written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers.
The only thing we absolutely know for sure: Holland is a mensch.
Update: After the D23 showcase, Holland met with Entertainment Weekly and shared more of his thoughts about the Disney/Sony split. “It’s been five amazing years. I’ve had the time of my life,” he said. “Who knows what the future holds? But all I know is that I’m going to continue playing Spider-Man and having the time of my life. It’s going to be so fun, however we choose to do it.”
EW also spoke with Feige, who said he felt “gratitude and joy” for the chance to make five films featuring the web-slinger. “It was never meant to last forever,” he said. “We knew there was a finite amount of time that we’d be able to do this, and we told the story we wanted to tell, and I’ll always be thankful for that.”