With the partnership between Marvel Studios and Sony which has allowed Spider-Man to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Amy Pascal has become an increasingly important person in the MCU. A few weeks back her comments on the future of the Marvel deal (more on that further down) caused some massive, if probably mistaken, shockwaves through fandom. When Screenrant went for a set visit to Spider-Man: Homecoming it was Pascal who sat down and did the usual Kevin Feige chat. It is very clear that the connection between the studios has benefited greatly from the personal connection and history she and the main Marvel man have.
So, [before the deal] we’ve told that [Spider-Man] story as many ways as I could figure out. And Kevin [Feige] and I had been working together since the very first movie, because he used to get coffee for Avi [Arad], if you can believe it. He was very good at getting coffee, though…He’s an even better producer, but he’s also good at coffee. So it felt like we needed to do something else and this felt like the right thing to do. And Kevin and I had been talking for a very long time about that. And here’s the thing that I wanted, I emphasize for all of you, because I think this is really important and I don’t think it will ever happen again in the history of the movie business: you have three studios that came together to have this movie being made. And no studio likes to share anything with anyone, let alone three studios. And truthfully – there is nothing cynical I can find in this statement – everybody did it because they wanted Spider-Man to be great. Truly, it was because Spider-Man is great, the character is great and people love him. That’s good for Disney. That’s good for Marvel. And that is certainly good for Sony.
Now several things jump from those comments, other than the gentle teasing of Feige. In particular, one can hear Pascal admitting just how lost Sony was in how to produce a better Spider-Man film. She leaves the detail out, but the main evidence they were struggling to “figure out” the character was that each Spidey film made less money than the previous. That’s startling, particularly given inflation and the way that IMAX and 3D upgrades have helped box office revenue grow. Even the cadence of “That’s good for Disney. That’s good for Marvel. And that is certainly good for Sony,” seems to lean toward Sony needing Marvel’s help far more than Marvel needed to add Peter Parker into their mix. Movie studios will never be self-effacing to the level of criticism fans hurl at Sony, but this block of interview is as close as one will get to hearing Sony admit they were clueless about what to do next.
Another admission of missteps came in refreshing confirmation that Sony now sees the Green Goblin as a character who deserves a rest, after so many attempts to put him front and center in the previous two Spider-Man film series.
Well, here’s the thing: we’ve recycled [villains] a lot. Um, I think there are certain characters I don’t think there’s anything more to say about them right this minute? And also, you’re not doing a story on this, but we’re also doing this animated movie, and that has a lot of characters in it, too. Very different, because it’s animated. But I think we have to try to be really fresh with it. I mean, I don’t know how many more times we can do – at least for now – I don’t know how many more times we can do the Green Goblin. I’ve certainly tried to do it fifty.
Given that Spider-Man has possibly the deepest villain gallery in all of comics (Batman being the other obvious contender), it is good to hear that some more of those characters will get the light of day. Vulture and Shocker and Tinkerer are all great options for Spider-Man: Homecoming and others like Mysterio, Rhino, Scorpion, Kraven the Hunter, Jackal, and more are sitting in reserve for a proper treatment. Fans would also love Venom or Carnage done right, though the Venom film news doesn’t make that seem likely. Pascal did give a terse answer about that property and why the Sony animated Spider-Man films are disconnected from the MCU.
[Screenrant]: There’s been a Venom movie in development?
Amy Pascal: There’s a Venom movie in development.[Screenrant]: You talked about the importance of working with Marvel – what’s the decision not to work with Marvel on the animated thing?
Amy Pascal: They just weren’t part of it. It was something we were doing with Chris and Phil Miller and it’s a very different kind of take on it? It’s another realm.
Another great tidbit is how Marvel goes about demanding and discovering excellence. The technique sounds simple, but effective.
Oh my God, they have a whole process that’s so fantastic. I mean… I’m a total Marvel groupie now. They are meticulous, they are relentless and one of the great things– I say this all the time– is you’re in a meeting with them, and they go, “Okay, it’s good– but how do we make it better?” I’ve never heard that before! They’re like, “How do you cut it?” That was like our line. So, this is like, “…okay. It’s really good. How do we make it better than this? How do we go tot he next place? How do we bless it?” That’s their favorite word at Marvel. “Are we blessing a scene?”
One might cynically suggest that the comments make Sony’s approach look terrible. “Well, that looked fine, let’s move on.” But that striving for the next 10% is a great approach to filmmaking. “We like what we have, but how might we squeeze a little more out of it?” Clearly, Marvel has won over a lot of viewers and fellow filmmakers with that obsession with making everything just a little better.
One important decision along the path of making a better Spider-Man movie was picking the right director. Marvel has succeed with directors like the Russo Brothers, who believe that action and story are integrally connected. That is exactly the perspective that made Jon Watts the choice for Homecoming.
Well I loved Cop Car, and so did Kevin. We both did. And one of the things I loved about Cop Car was that with very little money, he was able to tell a story through action. And there’s a lot of directors who are very, you know– successful action directors– that don’t always tell the story through action? And action having a beginning, middle and end? And that you don’t have like, a movie, and then an action scene, and then a movie, and then an action scene…and what we saw in Jon was somebody who actually knew the whole thing.
Finally, fans are already starting to bite their nails over how long Marvel and Sony will partner for, particularly after Pascal’s comments on the subject a few weeks back. When asked about the subject in this context, however, she gave an answer that is probably going to put minds at ease.
I think I’ll answer it this way: I think we found the right formula and I think everybody is going to want the right thing to continue. And I think that there’s a – as I said – there’s a surprisingly generous and cooperative thing and if it works for everybody, then it’s going to work for everybody.
That really is the strongest argument for why Sony is unlikely to end or not renew the situation with Marvel Studios for a very long time. If everything is functioning like it should (and it is so far) then Sony will make a lot of money off a property they were struggling to make profitable and Marvel will have a crown jewel character available for their major event films. Time will tell, but the structure of the deal appears to be a masterstroke where everyone, most importantly the fans, get what they want.
The Screenrant interview is much longer than the excerpts here and has a lot of great stuff about Tom Holland and Michael Keaton, as well as info on how connected to the MCU the film is and how they went about making Peter’s school reflective of American diversity in the 21st century. Head on over there now for the full read. Spider-Man: Homecoming comes to theaters on July 7th of this year.