What a tangled web we weave. Last week, Deadline reported that Spider-Man would be leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Disney and Sony failed to reach an agreement on funding and revenue sharing for future Spider-Man films. Not much is known about the underlying negotiations, and there are numerous conflicting accounts in the media. We donít even know whether the Sony-Marvel breakup is final or whether studio executives are willing to compromise.
No matter the details, the very concept of this kind of split raises countless questions. This week, Iíll explore the Marvel-Sony Spider-Man situation, explain how we got here, and review the workings of the Sony-Marvel Spider-Man license. Next week, Iíll use the license agreements to explain how Sony and Marvel can repair their fractured universes without getting into trouble.
What is going on here? Why are we even talking about Sony?

At first glance, the character sharing between Marvel and Sony seems bizarre ó why would Sony Pictures have the rights to Spider-Man (or any Marvel characters) in the first place? The answer is straightforward, if somewhat unsatisfying.
Fictional characters are protected by copyright laws. An authorís copyright over a character provides them with the exclusive right to use, adapt, or market the character as they see fit. Because the rights are exclusive, no one can use the character unless they are given explicit permission from the author.