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The two franchises are held by two separate companies. One, Sony, holds the rights to Spider-man 4-7, and are obliged to continue this line or give up the rights to the movies. The other, Marvel Studios, owns the rights to the Avengers and the subsidiary characters.

Under what circumstances might Spider-man join the Avengers? Are movie rights buys outs uncommon? Could a serenity/firefly-esque loophole be pulled off? Could the two studios 'team up'?

The original reason for me asking this is that Spider-man plays a large part in the civil war comic. With The Civil War movie in the horizon, and the shuffling of executives in Sony after the hack debacle, I thought there might be some news on this.

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migrated from Jun 21 '12 at 18:33

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Firefly -> Serenity wasn't a loophole. Fox sold the movie rights to Universal. –  user209 Jun 21 '12 at 18:28
@Keen but they couldn't call the film Firefly The Movie, for legal reasons. –  Pureferret Jun 21 '12 at 18:46
@Pureferret Which I'd bet is spelled out in the contract they agreed to when buying the rights. You're making it sound like some law prevented them, with handwavey vague statements. –  user209 Jun 21 '12 at 18:50
From @Oliver_C's link: I told Avi [Arad, Spider-Man series producer] and Matt that I realize it’s a business impossibility to share the characters, (“Thank you for understanding that” - Matt Tolmach [producer, The Amazing Spider-Man] to me)... –  Hugo Jun 24 '12 at 9:16

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Film corporation collaborations are not as uncommon as one might believe. This is especially true when dealing with music or music artists signed to one label that is under the umbrella of another corporation. Granted in those cases the film corporation really tries to pull music and artists from under it's own parent company labels but such is not ALWAYS possible.

Likewise when taking characters it always depends on what the film companies are willing to do. In that case it's always going to come down to money. Who gets what portion. This involves actors, screenwriters, and of course franchise owners.

The best example of this is "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" which gave us the first appearance of "Bugs Bunny" and "Mickey Mouse" on the screen at the same time. And the blood between Warner and Disney over animation was always HIGHLY hostile. (More talent theft than you see between Google, Apple, and Microsoft)

So, while collaborations aren't rare; what they collaborate over can be far more rare.

So, to answer the question, sometimes it's a contractual buyout of the franchise/character. Sometimes it's a character loan.

As mentioned in other responses, after months of deliberation, in February of 2015, Sony and the MCU announced an agreement to allow Spiderman to appear in upcoming MCU films. Details can be found at the website.

As per the original answer; it comes down to two corporations with rights to come to a contractual agreement over those rights. The same situation would be the case with the X-Men, or a Marvel/DC cross-over. The latter, far less likely.

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Heh, I never put that together before, Roger Rabbit and Mickey Mouse both being in that movie. –  DForck42 Jun 22 '12 at 16:04
@DForck42 - at the time it was a big deal that these companies were collaborating, having spent 50 years so thereabouts competing. That's why Roger, Jessica & The Judge were invented as lead roles, as neither company was willing to have the other's characters in a lead role. –  iandotkelly Jun 22 '12 at 17:28

Its going to happen with the correlation of both the studios, it was in talk from long. Discussion was from reboot to sequel. Spider-man is a big part of Civil War story line, which is happening in Captain America: Civil War.

From Wikipedia Marvel Cinematic Universe page:

In February 2015, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios announced that Spider-Man will appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the character appearing in an MCU film and Sony releasing a Spider-Man film produced by Feige and Pascal on July 28, 2017. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films. Marvel Studios will also explore opportunities to integrate other characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe into future Spider-Man films.

And from Spider Man in film page:

In December 2014, both Sony and Marvel were in discussion about having Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and appearing in Captain America: Civil War while still having control with the film rights. Those plans were said to be tabled. Instead, Sony has considered having Sam Raimi return to direct a new trilogy, along with an animated comedy with Phil Lord and Chris Miller. However, on February 9, 2015, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios announced that Spider-Man will appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the character appearing in an MCU film and Sony releasing a Spider-Man film produced by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal on July 28, 2017.


The timing of the deal means Spider-Man's likely to make his first Marvel movie appearance in Captain America: Civil War in May of next year, but the agreement doesn't mean that Sony is giving up the movie rights to the character. The studio will continue to finance, distribute, own, and have "final creative control" of standalone Spider-Man films, but Marvel Studios will be coming in to co-produce the next entry, now slated for July 28th, 2017. Sony Pictures said it was also "exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe into future Spider-Man films."

It's also mentioned on

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Ever since Marvel launched its shared movie universe, many fans have dreamed about seeing characters like the X-Men, The Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four join Iron Man and the rest of The Avengers in various cinematic adventures. It would be great fun to see these characters crossing paths as they regularly do in the comics, but the big screen reality is complicated due to different movie studios owning the movie rights to these cash cow franchises.

The record-setting box office take of The Avengers proved that audiences crave this kind of movie team-up, and the subject of crossovers has been addressed by various parties in the past year or so. Hugh Jackman publicly mused that he’d love to share the screen with Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man (and “kick his ass.”), X-Men franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner loves the idea of an X-Men/Avengers team-up, and while Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige essentially told everyone not to hold their breath, fans continue to wonder if it could someday happen. If it was up to Avi Arad, however, Spider-Man and the Avengers would never meet on the silver screen. Arad is a former Marvel Studios executive and remains a producer on the studio’s various films, with a focus on Sony’s rebooted The Amazing Spider-Man franchise. Arad and producer Matthew Tolmach recently spoke to TotalFilm (via CBM) about the possibility. Here’s what Arad had to say:

“I for one don’t see the value for us in it. I think we’re doing such a good job with the Spider-Man Universe. Spider-Man is arguably the number one character in the world. He shouldn’t make a cameo.”

Arad appears to have retracted his position a bit, though, having later said that the idea would be possible if they found:

“a natural alliance for some reason…I cannot talk for Sony.”

So Arad is clearly not speaking for the studio, which might mean the possibility remains alive. Still, Tolmach – who produced The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and is working on the Venom and Sinister Six spinoffs – chimed in with his point of view:

“The practical side of it is, look, how many movies have we just talked about? It’s all we can do to build that universe. We’re not going beyond that.”

From a practical, pragmatic point of view, it’s true that Sony, Arad, Tolmach and the rest of the creative team involved in developing a shared movie universe based on The Amazing Spider-Man have their hands full and plenty of characters and storylines to work with without negotiating with Marvel Studios or Fox about how and where they’ll be able to merge onscreen. Not to mention navigating the various schedules, salaries – and egos – of the stars of the franchises involved.

As for Arad’s comment on the “value” - he’s speaking about the studio and it’s willingness (or lack thereof) to share the profits and spotlight with any other franchise or studio. There would be tremendous value for fans of the characters and movies, and a potentially rewarding opportunity for the writers and directors to explore the facets of these different franchises. It’s very clear, however, that the Spider-Man, X-Men and Avengers movie universes are heading in very different directions. A crossover on this scale could happen in some form, eventually, but don’t expect it anytime soon.

What do you think? Do you want to see Spider-Man and the Avengers meet up on the big screen?

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-1: Welcome to the site. There are a few problems with your answer. Firstly and most importantly, you're referencing a year old interview on a question that has become important again due to the news in the last month that Marvel Studios now have rights to Spiderman. Your answer would be much better if you had quotes since that piece of news. Secondly, do please reference all quotes (with a link) so we don't have to hunt for them. Finally, don't worry about asking questions at the end of your answer - we're a q and a site, not a discussion forum :) –  Andrew Martin Feb 15 at 10:02

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