Sony: Into The Spider-Drama

I had already made up my mind to write a follow-up post to all the Spider-Man drama last night, after some new updates on a rapidly evolving story. But I was blindsided by just how dramatic some of these updates would be. Let’s dig in and discuss.

So, for all of you new to the story: last night, Sony Pictures and Disney Studios supposedly ended the deal they’ve had since 2015, whereby the character of Spider-Man is jointly owned by both companies, with creative control largely belonging to Disney (and specifically Marvel Studios), and the vast majority of box-office returns flowing straight into Sony’s treasure hoard. This apparently came about due to a disagreement over money: Disney is fed up with having to satisfy Marvel by agreeing to this deal, and so pressed Sony to allow for a 50/50 co-financing agreement, which would effectively impoverish a studio whose only big franchise is Spider-Man. Sony backed away from the new deal and took Spider-Man with them. That was how things looked at first.

Then, just after I had posted my initial response to the news, some more headlines started popping up. It was all just a false alarm, blown out of proportion: deals were apparently still ongoing: theories started emerging that it had all been a hoax, that the details had been leaked by Disney as a publicity stunt to gather support. They might have; we don’t know yet. But a closer look at those headlines revealed that they were little more than unsubstantiated rumors and speculation. But for a moment there, it looked like both sides had reached an uneasy ceasefire. Sources were saying that Sony executives were trying to reach out and explain to the press that this was all hypothetical.

That was until Sony themselves took to social media to explain what had happened, leaving no doubt that they weren’t messing around here, a deal had not been reached, talks were not ongoing, and no, Disney, you can’t have Spidey back yet. Their official statement placed the blame squarely on Disney, and characterized Marvel Studios and Marvel president Kevin Feige as the main victims of this terrible offense: “We are disappointed,” read the press release, “but respect Disney’s decision not to have [Feige] continue as a lead producer of our next live-action Spider-Man film.”

Ouch. That hurts. Especially because Feige is caught directly in the middle of this studio warfare, and is now being used by both sides to justify their actions, but has no ability to actually work out a deal on his own. And at this point, it’s become Disney’s problem just as much as it is his – Disney is currently building an entire Marvel theme park in which the main attraction will be…a Spider-Man ride. That was truly a brilliant idea, deciding to cash in on the character before even settling the question of whether they could.

The shame and blame tactics didn’t stop there, as Sony suggested that Disney would now try to pamper Feige into submission with a whole bunch of new toys obtained during the Disney/Fox merger: “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.”

Even The Hollywood Reporter is using the word “divorce” to describe this situation, and it’s no surprise – this whole situation sounds very hostile, and very risky. Disney can back down and allow Spider-Man to slip back into Sony’s vaults, or they can wise up and offer a more fair and balanced deal, one that doesn’t involve them stealing half the profits of a franchise that’s not actually theirs. Maybe losing some of the marketing rights to the character wouldn’t hurt either, since Disney has clearly run rampant with them. Feige can’t do much at all, and any actions he does take will look like he’s being moved around by Disney, unless he tries to negotiate a deal behind their backs – which, you know, probably isn’t a great idea. At the moment, Sony president Amy Pascal is in the position of power: she can smash a gaping hole in Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity, rob the franchise of one of its most iconic characters, and also wreck Disney’s new Marvel Land theme park.

Spider-Man star Tom Holland has been silent on the whole situation, but his Avengers co-star Jeremy Renner hasn’t, publicly stated that Sony should give back the character to Marvel, imploring the studio to remember that Spidey was Stan Lee’s favorite character. Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, who hasn’t actually entered the MCU yet, seemed dismayed that he wouldn’t be able to join a Cinematic Universe that didn’t include the Webslinger.

If a deal is reached, it should come before Disney’s D23 event (at which they’re expected to officially announce the Marvel Land park, and possibly some upcoming Marvel movies). That’s…the day after tomorrow.

Do you think Sony and Disney will settle this dispute? Is it too late for that? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Spider-Man Is Leaving The MCU!

Some Spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home ahead!

Well, that was a surprise.

Today would have been a completely unremarkable, even boring day in the world of entertainment industry news – there weren’t any big, flashy headlines to wake up to, no unexpected trailers dropping or big casting news. The world was mostly just chatting amiably about Amy Adams’ birthday, and getting ready for D23. Then, this happened.

As of today, the Sony/Disney deal over the Spider-Man rights has officially collapsed, leaving chaos, heartbreak and a collective sense of shock in its wake. Most of the internet is hurriedly rushing out hashtags like #BoycottSony or #GiveBackSpiderMan, while the rest are cheering about what this means for a shared Spider-verse over at Sony. I’ll try to sort out the details and let you draw your own conclusions, but I want to point out upfront that I am one of the fans who is currently very upset about this news. Not to the point where I want to boycott Sony, as I think that’s pretty ridiculous, but definitely angry enough to…well, write this post, for one thing.

The first thing that needs to be understood is that Spider-Man is the subject of the trickiest rights situation in Hollywood: or, was. Sony exclusively held the rights to the character, and the entire Spider-verse (a.k.a. Spidey’s entire roster of supporting characters, rogues, etc), from 1999 to 2015. During that time they produced two separate Spider-Man franchises, one starring Tobey Maguire, followed by a reboot with Andrew Garfield in the Webslinger’s iconic costume. After the reboot flopped, and the Spider-verse looked to be in danger of breaking apart, Sony’s president Amy Pascal came to an arrangement with Disney and Marvel Studios that the three companies would be able to have joint ownership of the character – with Sony reserving most of the rights. Spider-Man was never sold to the MCU, so much as he was leased. Sony still financed, produced and distributed his films, while Marvel only got a small portion of all Spider-Man box-office returns. The only control that Marvel ever really had over the character was the ability to use him as they saw fit in a total of five Sony-approved films, to recast him, and to choose directors and creative teams for his franchise. For more information on the specifics of the deal, I’ll direct you here.

Meanwhile, Sony used the remaining scraps of the Spider-verse to start creating their own separate franchises, completely disassociated with the MCU – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and Venom, two of last year’s most unexpected successes, seem to have proved to Sony that a three-way partnership with Disney and Marvel was no longer necessary – or profitable. Besides, they’re clearly itching to introduce Spider-Man to their roster of other characters, and they can’t do that until they have full control over the character once more.

So they did the only logical thing they could do. Mere days after Spider-Man: Far From Home, a Sony/Marvel production, officially became the highest-grossing Sony film of all time, Sony chose to pull out of their deal with Disney and Marvel – thereby immediately removing the character from the MCU, shutting the door on future Marvel storylines involving the character, and preventing Marvel president Kevin Feige from having any creative control over Spider-Man’s future films. This, of course, was always a risk, and it looks like Sony might have been scared by Feige’s supposed willingness to bring even more Spider-verse characters into the Marvel fold – perhaps that possible Gwen Stacy cameo in Avengers: Endgame was the last straw, who knows?

Whatever was the reason for Sony’s abrupt decision, it looks like, once they made up their minds, they didn’t back down. Disney apparently reached out to the studio, on Marvel’s behalf, with an offer to set up a 50/50 co-financing deal for all future Spider-Man movies – Sony turned it down immediately, and offered to keep the current deal going; the deal under which Marvel receives a measly share of profits. Disney rejected that offer. At which point Sony just cut their losses and took Spider-Man back. Both sides are just trying to look out for their business, and that’s completely understandable. Disney (and especially Marvel) don’t want to lose one of the cornerstones of their biggest franchise, and Sony doesn’t want to keep sharing their biggest franchise anymore, in a deal that has effectively prevented them from fully building their own Spider-verse.

The main problem is that this leaves Kevin Feige and the MCU in a horrible position. Having just set up a huge, world-changing story arc in Far From Home that was clearly intended to set up future Spider-Man movies and pave the way for Peter Parker becoming Marvel’s new Iron Man, Feige will now have to slowly dismantle all that hard work. If Sony and Disney don’t renegotiate (and it doesn’t seem likely that they will, at least not yet), then Tom Holland’s version of Spider-Man is officially gone from the MCU, leaving a gaping hole in the universe’s carefully constructed structure. Mysterio, one of the most awesome villains in recent comic book movie history, is gone as well. MJ, Aunt May, Ned: all of them are gone. J. Jonah Jameson, who just got introduced to the MCU, is out of it again. Sony will take back all their characters and probably recast and rebrand them all, giving Peter Parker a new origin story in a new trilogy of films that will most likely not expand on anything you’ve seen in Peter’s brief MCU tenure.

And so I feel obligated to conclude this post with what will most likely turn out to be the last line of dialogue ever spoken by Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in the MCU:

“What the fu-”

*cut to black*

“Underwater” Trailer!

Kristen Stewart is once again taking the internet by storm, only a month or two after the Charlie’s Angels trailer spurred an online tidal wave of rabid praise and swooning for the actress, whether because of her fashion statements, her smile, her short hair, her yoga pants; this time, though, the Kristen Stewart fanbase is taking it a step further – in the first trailer for Underwater, their idol is not only the paragon of style in her big round glasses, but is also firmly establishing herself as one of the Greatest Actresses of this generation. I have yet to see the evidence (that’s because it’s so subtle, apparently), but I’ll give her this: those glasses alone make this trailer much more interesting – but not quite enough.

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what this film is supposed to be, but that might be because I’m so focused on the glasses that I wasn’t paying attention. I’ll take a wild guess it’s a horror thriller, but it can’t be that horrifying, because it’s still got a PG-13 rating. And is there a reason why the “monster” is being kept hidden? Shadowy glimpses of tentacles and some sort of vaguely frog-shaped silhouette are all well and good, but it’s not a lot to go on. And why is the submersible laboratory reminiscent of a sci-fi spaceship? Why do I feel like this is not an accurate representation of what it’s like to be a marine biologist?

And, most importantly, what is going on with the film’s logo? This is something that has continuously bothered me while watching and rewatching this trailer: the title font, which slowly, painstakingly, spells out the word Underwater in the most boring typeface I’ve ever seen, has nothing to do with the sensation of being underwater, and it doesn’t add anything to the film’s look, atmosphere or overall style. And yet it’s presented as if it’s so epic, it deserves to be part of the main action in the trailer – if they were going for that effect, why not at least present it on a background that has some water-ripple effects or something going on? It just looks like a missed opportunity to me.

I’m sorry, Kristen, but your performance simply isn’t as important as title-card layout. I feel like I nit-pick about the weirdest things in trailers sometimes, but this one had to be mentioned.

Honestly, the conversation about Stewart’s glasses has robbed the other actors in this trailer of any chance of recognition: I mean, seriously, are you going to completely ignore somebody like Mamoudou Athie, who gets, what, a single line of dialogue in the trailer – if even? You are? Well, that’s just unfair. I tell you, nobody stands a chance against Kristen Stewart these days: even in Charlie’s Angels, people were too busy obsessing over her haircut to even notice the incredible talent surrounding her, like Patrick Stewart and Naomi Scott. It’s the same here: that Lovecraftian sea-monster is going to take one look at her glasses and scamper back into whatever hellhole it issued from, because it knows it can never summon the Bisexual Energy™ that Kristen Stewart can.

What do you think of the first trailer for Underwater? Is Kristen Stewart too powerful to be stopped at this point? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 4/10

Is There Any Chance Of Hela Returning?

It’s time for a Marvel theory, because we haven’t done one in a little while, and because I don’t really know what there is to say about the fact that a Love, Simon series is coming to Disney+, and I don’t want to get embroiled in the catastrophic mess that is Disney’s live-action Mulan, unless I absolutely have to. So, instead, let’s talk about something nice – the Goddess of Death.

The last time we saw Marvel’s iteration of the iconic villainess Hela (portrayed by legendary actress Cate Blanchett), she was being crushed under the weight of the fiery giant Surtur, and the crumbling wreckage of Asgard at the end of Thor: Ragnarok. As if that wasn’t enough, the entire planet around her then blew up, to the point where it would be entirely possible to ever rebuild, at least according to Korg, the helpful blue rock-monster. So, the general consensus among fans is that whatever remains of Hela is floating somewhere in the frozen void of space. But is it that simple?

According to Cate Blanchett, the character doesn’t have to be permanently dead, and she’s perfectly willing to reprise the role, if director Taika Waititi allows. What with everything else supposedly going on in the fourth Thor movie, Thor: Love And Thunder (two versions of Thor, Valkyrie looking for a girlfriend, possibly a last hurrah from Loki himself) it might be difficult to find a place for the Ragnarok villain, but there’s a few ways that it could work.

Firstly, there wouldn’t need to be any elaborate explanation for how she survived. She’s the Goddess of Death. Maybe she physically can’t die – and if she did, wouldn’t that pose a problem for all the dishonorable dead, who would now lack an overlord? Is her fiefdom now leaderless? What’s happening down in Hel? Honestly, it’s better to just say that Hela survived the destruction of Asgard, fled back to Hel (since she wouldn’t have anywhere else to go), and is now either scheming over some new plan, or has begrudgingly made peace with Thor, her younger brother – even though she kind of killed a large part of his population, cut out his eye, destroyed his homeland and set into motion the tragic events of Avengers: Infinity War. It’s not hard to imagine: take a look at Hela’s Wikipedia page and count how many times people are being brought back to life either by her, or because of her.

So what would she be up to, in the post-Endgame world? Well, it’s obviously too late to have her fill the role of Mistress Death, Thanos’ one true love and divine muse; something that fans had wanted to see. But she could have a few tricks up her sleeve, still.

The one that seems most likely to me, not only because it’s fun but because this is a Taika Waititi movie, and that man is absolutely insane (in a good way), is a storyline from some of the more recent Thor comics, in which the Goddess of Death sets up shop in Las Vegas, Nevada, opening a lair for criminals called the Inferno Club – not to be confused with the Hellfire Club, also from Marvel comics. Here, Hela has met and plotted with some of the greatest villains in the cosmos, including Loki, Mephisto, and even Dormammu (remember him, from Doctor Strange?). Her stories on earth have mostly revolved around her trying to foil the plans of the New Mutants, including Magik and Dani Moonstar, so it provides an opportunity for some X-Men cameos or namedrops. And who wouldn’t pay the price of admission just to see Cate Blanchett, decked out in the character’s campy black-and-green attire and lofty antlers, managing a casino?

As for how she could be tied into the plot, well, that might rely on everyone’s favorite God of Mischief, who may or may not be returning for the final Thor film. If he does come back, it will be a very different Loki than the one who was killed by Thanos in Infinity War: this Loki would be the one who escaped through an alternate reality in Endgame, still very much a villain – i.e., the exact type of person who would get lured into Hela’s club, and who might even strike a deal with his evil sister, if he hasn’t reformed by that time.

So there you have it: a perfectly good, and perfectly Waititi, way to bring the Goddess of Death back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What do you think? Will Blanchett make a return to the role? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Obi-Wan Kenobi Headed To Disney Plus!

denofgeek.com

The great Jedi master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of the most legendary and respected figures in Star Wars lore, is apparently being dished out to the Mouse House’s fledgling streaming service, Disney+, in a new show set to (presumably) cover Kenobi’s exploits in the decade between the Star Wars prequels and the original trilogy.

But don’t give up hope just yet: Disney is making a valiant effort to have this show look and feel like movie-quality material – so much so, that they’ve gotten Ewan McGregor, who played Kenobi in the prequels, to reprise the iconic role. There’s no hint yet of how large McGregor’s paycheck for the series is, but I’m guessing it’s got to be pretty big to tempt the actor to the small screen – then again, he seems to have a pretty comfortable relationship with Disney already, having previously portrayed a grown-up version of Christopher Robin in the 2018 film of the same name.

As of right now, the show has no official title, so we’ll call it “Kenobi” because I like the sound of that. More details will probably be announced at Disney’s D23 event later this month, but until then we have a few things to think over.

Firstly, the fact that Kenobi is only a Disney+ streaming show is already upsetting fans (by the way, I’ve begun to spell the name of Disney’s streaming service with a + sign instead of writing the word Plus, since apparently that’s how we do things in Hollywood nowadays). That’s a pretty rational complaint: it’s still unclear how large the budgets for these shows will be, and whether they’ll actually maintain the same level of quality as the movies they’re based on – let’s not beat around the bush; people are worried that it’s going to look like a CW show. I’m sorry, CW, you get a lot of flack for stuff you have absolutely no control over (except the ridiculous costumes; those are entirely your fault), but this is how the public thinks. Some are also frustrated that someone of such prestige in the franchise would be demoted in such a way, instead of getting his own film trilogy: in my opinion, the Star Wars prequels were already a perfectly good Obi-Wan Kenobi trilogy, since he was arguably more of an interesting protagonist than Anakin Skywalker. But yeah, this news probably means that all those rumors of a Kenobi movie are just that – rumors. Even if they did come from Deadline.

As for the show’s setting, we have no indication as of yet: but we have to assume it will take place in the decade or two between The Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope, while Kenobi is off…wandering the barren wastelands of Tattooine? I don’t know about you, but a whole series of Obi-Wan just hanging out with Jawas sounds like fun to me: unfortunately though, the showrunners probably will deny us the content we deserve, and instead give us some half-baked story about Obi-Wan before he arrived on the desert planet, stoking the fires of rebellion, fighting rogue Sith lords and running into CGI reconstructions of characters from the original trilogy. Nowhere near as entertaining, I know.

Do I sound slightly cynical and annoyed in this post? It might be because I’m still trying to sort out how I feel about this news: am I happy, or am I one of those angry fans ranting about how Obi-Wan Kenobi, the greatest Jedi in history, was demoted to a Disney+ series? Or is it just because I’m annoyed that I have to use a dumb + sign from now on?

You know…it might be that.