AVENGERS: ENDGAME Directors Explain Why They're Not Surprised About SPIDER-MAN Leaving The MCU

Spider-Man is officially swinging away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and now the filmmakers who brought the hero into the fold back in 2016 have explained why the news hasn't come as a surprise...

Spider-Man made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Captain America: Civil War and went on to appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home. As a result, no directors worked more with this version of the wall-crawler than Joe and Anthony Russo, so how are they feeling about Disney and Sony's recent split? 

Asked about bringing the hero into the MCU, Anthony says: "We were extremely passionate about it. This is something we really wanted to happen, and fought a long time internally at Marvel to make it happen." Joe adds: "It wasn’t easy. Kevin [Feige] went through a lot. There were a lot of ups and downs, and he kept walking into our office and we’d go, ‘Look, we’ve got to do it with [Sony],’ and he’d go, ‘OK, I’ll figure it out,’ and walk back into his. He was looking for the way out."

"He wanted to open that door and have us go, ‘We figured it out! We don’t need Spider-Man!’ because it’s a lot of work to get two major corporations to play nice with each other, and the fact that it happened at all, we should all be dancing and celebrating that we got that little bit of time."

Anthony concluded by explaining that they realised this split was inevitable and that's why they haven't exactly been left reeling by the news. "I think that’s why Joe and I are not so devastated or surprised that there’s been a falling-out, because it was so hard to make it happen in the first place." 

Now, Spider-Man is heading back to Sony's "Spider-Verse" where his world will become entangled with characters like Venom and Morbius, the Living Vampire. Whether that will prove to be a good or bad thing is hard to say, but the studio certainly sounds confident that they can continue the web-slinger's story without any assistance from Kevin Feige or Marvel Studios. 

Spidey's MCU departure wasn't the only superhero movie news story
to break the internet. Hit the "View List" button to see even more!

Spider-Man Joins The Marvel Cinematic Universe


Thanks to the Sony Hack, we learned that Sony Pictures had talked to Disney and Marvel Studios about bringing Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At the time, we assumed that it meant Andrew Garfield would swing into the same world as The Avengers, but those same leaked emails pointed to talks having stalled. 

For months, rumours swirled that it might happen, but it was finally made official in February 2015. 

At the time, the then Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Michael Lynton, said that "This is the right decision for the franchise, for our business, for Marvel, and for the fans." It's just a shame it didn't last, eh? Regardless, we learned that a new Spidey would be cast and that he would appear in Captain America 3, news which blew the minds of fans everywhere. 

Warner Bros. Finally Reveals Its DC Films Slate


In October 2014, Warner Bros. revealed a full slate of movies for the DC Extended Universe...during a shareholder's meeting. It wasn't exactly as flashy as what we were used to from Marvel Studios, but that made these reveals no less exciting for fans. 

Here's a list of the movies that were announced along with their release dates:
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder (2016)
  • Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer (2016)
  • Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot (2017)
  • Justice League Part One, directed by Zack Snyder, with Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams reprising their roles (2017)
  • The Flash, starring Ezra Miller (2018)
  • Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa (2018)
  • Shazam (2019)
  • Justice League Part Two, directed by Zack Snyder (2019)
  • Cyborg, starring Ray Fisher (2020)
  • Green Lantern (2020)
What a difference a few years makes, eh? A fair few of those did happen, of course, but many didn't and there's still no sign of the Batman and Superman movies that were also promised at the time.

Disney Purchases Lucasfilm


Disney buying Marvel was a big deal, but, honestly, not much changed. When it was revealed that they'd scooped up Lucasfilm for a cool $4 billion in 2012, though, there was a lot of excitement.

For starters, Star Wars was now out of the hands of its creator, George Lucas, a man many claimed had ruined the franchise with the prequels and increasingly confusing Expanded Universe. There were many fans who were shocked that would no longer be canon, of course, but the promise of Episode VII and regular Star Wars movies after that more than made up for it. 

The past few years have been very interesting for fans of this Galaxy Far, Far Away, with new movies, TV shows, and even a theme park which has opening both in California and Florida. 

Robert Downey Jr. Joins The Cast Of Captain America 3


Massive crossovers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have become the norm. However, when it was revealed back in October 2014 that Robert Downey Jr. had signed a deal to appear in Captain America 3 for a big screen adaptation of Civil War, the response was one of unmatched excitement among fans.

The report from Variety revealed that Downey Jr. was initially wanted for just a few weeks of work, but the actor wanted a bigger role and more money, so Marvel Entertainment boss Ike Perlmutter insisted that he be written out altogether; that's right, the MCU very nearly ended up losing its Iron Man in 2014!

Thankfully, Kevin Feige saved the day and managed to lock Downey Jr. in for a multi-picture deal! 

Joss Whedon Takes Charge Of Justice League


This was a tricky one, as the announcement that an Avengers movie was coming in 2011 (later 2012) was undeniably massive. However, even bigger than that was the news that the man who brought Earth's Mightiest Heroes to the big screen was going to replace Zack Snyder as the director of Justice League, DC's version of a superhero team! 

Warner Bros. revealed that Whedon had been chosen to pen reshoots, but Snyder wanting to take time off following the death of his daughter meant that he would helm them as well. 

For most fans, this came as good news, especially after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice disappointed. Surely Whedon of all people would make this Justice League movie a hit? Nope. It was a disaster arguably made worse by his reshoots that added ill-timed comedy and a Superman with a CGI mouth that turned Henry Cavill into a meme. 

The X-Men And Fantastic Four Are Coming Home!


The news that the X-Men, Deadpool, and Fantastic Four franchises would return to Marvel Studios wasn't as surprising as Spider-Man's leap into the Marvel Cinematic Universe because we spent months following this one. The battle for Fox's assets between Disney and Comcast kept us all on the edge of our seats, and, for comic book fans, the stakes could not have been higher. 

Disney winning the day meant that Kevin Feige would regain control of hundreds (possibly thousands) of characters and ensured that the iconic heroes who make up the X-Men and Fantastic Four would be rebooted for the big screen. 

Honestly, that was a long time coming and with this year's Comic-Con confirming that those movies are on the way, seeing what Feige does with the likes of Wolverine and Galactus once again has us all on the edges of those same seats. 

The Deadpool Test Footage Leaks Online


There had been talks of a Deadpool movie for years, but it quickly became clear that it wasn't going to happen. Fox just didn't seem to understand the character, so Ryan Reynolds and Tim Miller took it upon themselves to leak the test footage they made during Comic-Con way back in 2014 (not that they would ever admit responsibility, of course). 

The brief sizzle reel blew the minds of fans and got everyone talking. 

In fact, the buzz surrounding it was so positive that Fox finally decided to give a Deadpool movie the green light. The budget was small, and Reynolds and company faced challenge after challenge but the movie arrived in theaters in 2016 and was a massive hit.

Jared Leto's Joker Is Revealed


It was in April 2015 that a first look at Jared Leto's take on The Joker in Suicide Squad was revealed, and, well, the response was vocal to say the least. We had caught glimpses of the Oscar winner with the villain's trademark green hair, but this unveiling was not at all well-received by fans. 

Covered in tattoos with grills on his teeth, it instantly became apparent that this was not the comic accurate Joker many had been expecting. It was pretty much a total reinvention of the character, and the fact that he didn't even have the same deformed smile as the classic version was another blow to many people. 

Some reasoned that the tattoos wouldn't matter that much and that his teeth were only like that because Batman must have "broken" his smile, but what we ended up getting in Suicide Squad was still a disappointment and definitely not enough to make up for this bizarre makeover. 

James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Firing


Movie studios part ways with filmmakers all the time so the outpouring of support for James Gunn both was and wasn't surprising. The director's work on the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise was so good that imagining it continuing without him was not something fans could fathom...or the cast of the movie, for that matter. 

After Gunn was fired for comments he made on social media long before he started working for Disney that were dug up by right wingers who didn't agree with his political outlook, the entire cast penned an open letter which made it clear they stood behind him.

The twists kept coming, though, as Gunn soon signed on to take the helm of The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros. and it wasn't too long after that when we learned that he had been re-hired for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 by Disney. This story kept fans hooked, and unlike some of the others listed here, it actually had a great outcome.

Spider-Man Leaves The Marvel Cinematic Universe


It's a shame we have to end this feature in such a disappointing way, but just as Spider-Man joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a massive deal, so too is the fact that the wall-crawler is now leaving it. After Disney and Sony Pictures failed to reach a deal on a co-financing agreement, the decision was made for Spidey to return to the "Spider-Verse."

We've heard conflicting reports about how much Disney wanted, but it's been said that they would have been happy paying 25% of the cost of production in return for 25% of the profit. 

It's easy to see why Sony said no, but it now means that Spider-Man won't be part of the MCU and that Kevin Feige will have no sort of creative control. Tom Holland has confirmed that a "very different" third movie is in the works and the prevailing theory is that it will include Tom Hardy's Venom. 

Talking of Spider-Man, continue reading below to for a reminder of all
the dumb ideas Sony had for Spidey before teaming up with Disney!

Spider-Man Joins The Sinister Six


Sony mulled over a lot of different Sinister Six ideas, many of which we'll touch on later in this article. However, one version would have seen Spidey recruited to the team by Doctor Octopus before the villain inevitably betrays the wall-crawler and shows his true colours.

Drew Goddard reportedly wanted Matt Damon to play him and the likes of Colin Firth, Daniel Craig, Will Smith, and Denzel Washington were also suggested by the studio. 

The team would have battled an alien called Gog in the Savage Land (as well as dinosaurs) and the movie's MacGuffin was set to be the actual Pandora's Box. Another idea thrown around would have seen the wall-crawler don the Venom Symbiote and ask the team for help in stopping Carnage. However, there was one big concern: the word "Sinister" might alienate younger moviegoers. 


Spider-Man Must Be White And Can't Be Gay


This rather controversial rule is actually something Marvel specified when Sony Pictures purchased the film rights to Spider-Man. You see, while Sony does technically have full control of the web-slinger, there are indeed some things they can't do, and that means ensuring that he's a white male who "is not a homosexual (unless Marvel has portrayed that alter ego as a homosexual)."

His parents must always be absent from his childhood, he must be bitten by a spider, and the black costume has to be a Symbiote and not a suit of his own design. Also, Spidey "does not torture; does not kill in defense of self or others; does not use foul language beyond PG-13; does not smoke tobacco; does not sell/distribute illegal drugs; does not abuse alcohol; does not have sex before the age of 16; does not have sex with anyone below the age of 16."

I think those last few probably go without saying, but it's good to know Spidey can't be a sex offender!

A Spider-Man For Millennials


It seems Sony realised that Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker wasn't exactly the most accessible version of the character, so it was at this point they decided that the next version should appear to millennials. Apparently, youngsters use "N.B.D." ("No Big Deal") on social media to describe doing yoga and veganism, and the studio wanted to emphases that everything is "N.B.D." to Spidey. 

Spider-Man's movements are "beautiful," so Sony fancied tying that into the Electronic Dance Music craze...providing they could find a "killer DJ." At the time, Snapchat had introduced its "Story" function and the studio also wanted the web-slinger to get in on that because the hero's Snapchat circle "would be huge, and very buzzworthy and cool." What a film all this would have made, eh?

Sam Raimi Was Offered The Chance To Return


Sam Raimi was supposed to direct Spider-Man 4, but that never happened and we got The Amazing Spider-Man instead. However, out of what seemed to be sheer desperation, Sony approached the filmmaker with the idea that he could return and reboot the franchise...for the third time. 

The plan was to make another trilogy and, if needs be, they would have had Raimi serve as a producer.

Interestingly, Sony also considered having Drew Goddard make the leap from Sinister Six to this Spider-Man reboot as both a writer and director. There was a lengthy wishlist of directors, though, including names like James Gunn, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Edgar Wright, and Colin Trevorrow. 

The Amazing Spider-Man 3 And 4


If you don't believe that Sony was creatively bankrupt at this point, look no further than what they were mulling over for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and 4. The wall-crawler was going to create a formula that would bring back the dead, thereby resurrecting both Captain Stacy and Gwen (presumably, Uncle Ben would have also returned in some capacity). 

The lead villain was set to be Harry Osborn's Green Goblin, but we would have also seen Norman Osborn as a Goblin - after that formula was used on his severed head, which was being kept in what was essentially a jar in the bowels of Oscorp. 

Marc Webb has also alluded to The Vulture and Sinister Six showing up, while The Gentleman was expected to take on a much larger role in proceedings as well. Needless to say, this all sounds completely batsh*t crazy and it's hard to imagine this being anything other than a disaster. Oh, and Aunt May spinoff was indeed considered and would have been a spy movie in the vein of Man Men.

Spider-Man Grows Up


Marvel Studios' Spider-Man reboot put the wall-crawler straight back into high school, but Sony gave some serious thought to having Peter Parker grow up and enter the adult world from the start. 

They wanted to skip the origin story and kick things off with a version of the character "juggling with adult issues." Sony noted that, "He’s done so in the comics for decades, and kids still found this fun to read." It also sounded like they would have portrayed him as a science teacher in a high school. 

Many fans would love to see an older version of the wall-crawler on the big screen, but this idea was ultimately scrapped when Kevin Feige decided to introduce Spidey as an inexperienced hero. 

Kraven's Last Hunt


We know that a movie starring Kraven the Hunter is in the works and that the screenplay does actually include Spider-Man. Well, this is a storyline Sony execs were also high on long before partnering up with Marvel Studios and it sounds like this was their top choice for the first film starring the web-slinger. 

Wisely, that didn't happen as it's a very dark, complex storyline which would have felt out of place in a movie that was meant to reintroduce this beloved character to moviegoers. 

However, it's hard to escape the feeling that this might be what's next for Spider-Man on the big screen.

How Sony Planned To Outdo Marvel Studios


Something we see in many of the "Sony Hack" emails is apparent frustration over the fact that Marvel Studios is capable of producing fan-pleasing box office hits based on characters who aren't anywhere near as well-known as Spider-Man. However, the studio had some ideas about how they could outdo one upcoming release, in particular: Doctor Strange.

Sony's top choice to play Sandman in Sinister Six was Tom Hardy (an actor who had been eyed to play the Sorcerer Supreme) and, well, it's probably best if you hear this directly from the studio.

"He's gonna storm through London at the end like God-f***ing-zilla," reads one email. "That is not purple prose. He's going to be AS TALL AS A SKYSCRAPER in the third act of the movie. What does Dr. Strange have? Magic tricks? F*** you, magic tricks — we've got a skyscraper Tom Hardy knocking down buildings!!!!"

So yeah, they have some weird ideas about what fans want to see.

The Sinister Six's Roster


Sinister Six was supposed to be a major tentpole for Sony until Marvel Studios convinced them to shelve it (they couldn't talk them out of working on Venom, however). 

The team was set to include Spider-Man alongside Doctor Octopus, The Vulture, Sandman, Mysterio, and Black Cat. Idris Elba, Francis McDormand, Byran Cranston, and Jackie Chan were wanted for undisclosed roles, as were Woody Harrelson, Channing Tatum, Joel Edgerton, and Jason Clarke. Chris O'Dowd, Michael Peña, Seth Rogen, and Danny McBride were eyed for a comedy role.

As for Black Cat, Sony had a surprisingly decent list of actresses in mind, including Ruth Wilson, Emily Blunt, Kerri Russell, Rose Byrne, Emilia Clarke, and Elizabeth Olsen.

Sony's Resentment Over Spider-Man's Merchandising Rights


This particular piece of information may very well shed some light on why Sony flat out refused to give Disney a larger slice of their Spidey pie. In an email complaining that it took them five years to get another Spider-Man movie in theaters after Spider-Man 3, it was noted that, "Disney will make $300M on Spidey merchandise this year alone. We won’t!"

When you take that into account, you really can't blame them for not wanting to give Disney 30% - 50% of the profits made from future movies - even if they were willing to contribute to the budget.

What do you guys think about Sony's past plans for Spider-Man? Let us know below and continue reading to check out what we think might come next for the hero in the "Spider-Verse"!
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