The most tortured metaphor I came up with was this: it’s like, imagine if at some point after the original Star Trek tv series was cancelled, Gene Roddenberry had sold the rights to the character of Harry Mudd because he needed the money. So there was some movie studio that could, and did, make Harry Mudd movies, although those movies couldn’t really reference the Federation or lots of other elements of that universe not directly related to Harry. Then came the Star Trek movies and the new tv series and their movies, but of course Harry Mudd wasn’t in any of those. (He really wasn’t, but in my metaphor it’s because of legal rights issues.) And then the Star Trek reboot happened and, once the Trek resurgence was in full swing, the producers negotiated to get Harry Mudd back.
Now imagine everyone who’s a hardcore fan of Star Trek, loved the original tv series and likes what they’ve done with the reboot, suddenly flipping out and bemoaning how it isn’t going to make any sense to have Harry Mudd join up as a crew member of the Enterprise and it’s just going to ruin everything to try to make him some kind of Starfleet officer. Completely discounting the possibility of stories to be told about the crew interacting with Harry Mudd, and jumping straight to bashing the most awkwardly contrived combination of the characters imaginable.
The Spider-Man/Avengers thing is kinda like that. Kinda.
I have another theory for how Spider-Man could be incorporated into the overarching grand MCU Thanos narrative that has been building since the first Avengers epilogue (well really since the Infinity Gauntlet was glimpsed in passing in the Asgardian treasure room in Thor, but be that as it may). This is way beyond unlikely, but because I’m cynical it at least amuses me to think about it:
They could conceivably use Spider-Man as the sacrificial lamb for Thanos, filling the role I originally suspected the Guardians of the galaxy would wind up in. Spider-Man on his own is really no match for Thanos, though of course he would try, and certainly Spider-Man (in any media) has never been opposed to expanding his arsenal for specific foes, swinging by the lab to pick up an experimental alpha-wave generator or sonic disrupter or whatever might be the magic bullet that takes out the bad guy he’s struggling against if webs and wisecracks aren’t getting the job done. So you could have a Thanos versus Spider-Man knockdown drag-out fight, where Spider-Man throws everything and the nuclear-powered kitchen sink at Thanos, only for Thanos to shrug it off. The no-selling of the crazy military sci-fi hardware would be the part that builds up Thanos as a threat, not the disregard for a teenager with the proportional strength of a spider. But the smackdown of Spider-Man would be the part that generates the big heel heat, as the audience cringes to see a beloved superhero getting thrashed.
OK, they wouldn’t kill him, but at the least they’d hospitalize him. Then while he’s in ICU, the Avengers would step up and really bring things to a head.
And why, you may wonder, would they go about it that way, rather than having Thanos demonstrate his world-beater evil nature by just decimating some random fictional planet on-screen or something? The main reason would be to screw with Sony. The current arrangement is for the two studios to share the character, somehow, and that was only hammered out after a fairly long period of Marvel Studios trying to get Spider-Man back outright and Sony playing very hard to get, refusing to surrender intellectual property that they hadn’t yet managed to fully capitalize on (ever) but were convinced would (and rightfully should) make them money in the future. By portraying Spider-Man as getting whupped but good, in a perfectly narratively logical way, Marvel Studios would be fulfilling the letter of their contractual sharing but then giving the character back to Sony as somewhat compromised damaged goods.
Like I said, that’s so petty and twisted there’s virtually no chance of it actually happening, and I know that. But there’s no bad ideas when you’re brainstorming!
Today of course is Valentine’s Day, or as I like to think of it, one of several strategically placed reminders that I’m a guy who’s ridiculously lucky in love.
Whether yours is a celebration of romance or a spirited protest of commercialized mockery of solitary independence, have a good one!