The world of superhero fandom is still trying to process the groundbreaking news last night that Spider-Man is finally coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The announcement revealed that the webbed wonder will first appear in a Marvel movie, before a new standalone Spider-Man adventure will hit theaters on July 28, 2017. A report from earlier today claimed that the unspecified Marvel movie will be the first Phase Three adventure Captain America: Civil War, with other reports revealing that Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) is not coming back for the reboot. This has yet to be confirmed by Marvel, but it does make the most sense, since Spider-Man was a part of the Civil War comic book, and it is one of only three Marvel movies hitting theaters before July 2017, with Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 being the others. Of course, we aren't counting this year's Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, since those films are both deep into post-production, and the new Spider-Man has yet to be cast yet, but it does raise the following question: will Spider-Man eventually become one of The Avengers?
Less than a month before Marvel and Sony's announcement, an unconfirmed rumor claimed that the Spider-Man deal had been finalized, but that the web-slinger won't make his debut in Captain America: Civil War, but instead in Avengers: Infinity War Part 1. Naturally, that report now contradicts Marvel's official announcement, but it's certainly possible that Spider-Man's debut in Captain America: Civil War could set up the massive two-part Infinity War movies. There is also this brief excerpt from last night's Sony/Marvel announcement.
"Marvel and Sony Pictures are also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films."
This means that it's possible Spider-Man could team up with members of The Avengers or other MCU characters in one of Sony's future Spider-Man movies, but it doesn't say that the opposite applies, meaning Spider-Man could appear in an upcoming Avengers sequel. Naturally, we don't know how large or small Spidey's role in Captain America: Civil War is at this time, but since production starts in the next few months, it seems unlikely he will have a major presence. He could certainly swing by to help out in Civil War, which would open the door for either Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron man (Robert Downey Jr.) or possibly even Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) to come by and give Spidey a helping hand in his first new standalone movie, which Marvel's Kevin Feige is producing with former Sony executive-turned-producer Amy Pascal.
But, with that being said, isn't it possible that this appearance could set him up for an even bigger role in Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and Avengers: Infinity War Part 2? There have already been plenty of rumors that the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron gives us a new team of Avengers, which even producer Kevin Feige confirmed in an October interview, stating, "the [Avengers] roster is altered by the finale of this film." Of course, we won't know how much the team is "altered" until the Phase Two sequel hits theaters this May, but the possibility of the Peter Parker joining the Avengers in some way, shape or form, is enticing indeed. And the end credits scene for Avengers: Age of Ultron has not, to anyone's knowledge, been shot yet. Maybe they were waiting to include Spider-Man, knowing the possibility of bringing him back to Marvel was on the table. They wouldn't need to announce an actor yet, since he could just leave his mask on.
As of right now, all we know is that Sony currently allows Spider-Man to be in one Marvel movie before his first standalone adventure. It still may be several weeks or months until we even know who is playing the new Peter Parker, let alone how he will fit into the MCU. But, one thing is for certain: Marvel wanted Spidey in their playground badly, even offering Sony billions of dollars for the full rights to the entire franchise, which Sony eventually turned down, leading to this "shared" deal, of sorts, where Sony still retains full rights to the franchise (and creative control over the casting). While Marvel didn't get exactly what they wanted, it's still a win, and after the months of work that went into this deal getting made (talks reportedly started back in October), Marvel surely has something big planned for Spider-Man's debut in the MCU.
Some have speculated this deal may just be the first step in Marvel's grand plan to acquire the full Spider-Man rights, and all it may take is this new Spidey reboot to tank for Sony to finally wave the white flag and ship off their $4 billion franchise to Marvel. Although, maybe not, since Sony is still developing The Sinister Six, Venom and an untitled project centering on the female characers of the Spiderverse. Even if it doesn't come to that, though, Marvel finally managed to pull off the seemingly impossible feat of bringing arguably Marvel Comics' most popular character home to Marvel Studios, if even for just one movie. Who's to say that they'll just stop there?