On Monday night, news broke that Marvel is joining forces with Sony to make more Spider-Man movies. While it's easy to raise an eyebrow at the prospect of more films featuring Peter Parker—there have already been five, and the series has already been rebooted once in the last 15 years—the general consensus among industry reporters is that hitting the reset button once again was basically a no-brainer. The unique character-sharing arrangement struck by Sony and Disney lets the hero join the established "Marvel Cinematic Universe" (where Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, et al have been crossing over with each other for years) as well as appear in a stand-alone film in 2017 produced by both studios (further Sony-produced spinoffs may follow one day). Exhausting, yes, but lucrative.
Given the obvious motivation for this bit of corporate cooperation—big-budget superhero franchises are all-but-guaranteed moneymakers and studios want to cash in—it would be heartening to see Sony and Marvel take a meaningful risk. Namely, the studios could take advantage of the relative safety that comes with doing a superhero reboot and finally bring a non-white Spider-Man to the big screen.
Moviegoers have reached a fascinating—some would say depressing—level of studio awareness in this era of interconnected franchises. Just because you're a Marvel Comics hero doesn't mean Marvel Studios can use you—Fox owns the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four, and Sony will continue to retain the Spider-Man license. Part of the magic of reading comic books is watching a company's heroes appear in each other's titles, and that's magic Marvel and Disney have replicated with their criss-crossing Avengers-centric films. But until now, they haven't been able to incorporate Marvel's flagship, web-shooting character.