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Spider-Man swings back to Marvel Studios with Sony pact

The Marvel Cinematic Universe just got a little bigger, with Spider-Man set to join the tangled web in a new partnership between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

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Sony Pictures Entertainment

Your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man is finally set to swing into Marvel Studios films following a landmark deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The film rights to Spider-Man were first sold by Marvel back in 1985 and eventually acquired by Sony Pictures Entertainment, meaning that until now, the chances of seeing Spider-Man on the big screen alongside other superheroes like Iron Man and Captain America in a unified Marvel Cinematic Universe were effectively nil.

While the film rights to the $4 billion franchise remain with Sony, the terms of the deal mean that the next time you see Spider-Man in cinemas it will be in an as-yet-unidentified Marvel Studios production. This will then be followed up with a Spider-Man standalone film from Sony, already slated for release on July 28, 2017.

The 2017 Spider-Man film will still be financed and distributed by Sony Pictures, but Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige will produce the movie alongside Amy Pascal, who recently stepped down as Sony Pictures co-chair in the wake of the company's disastrous hack.

Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said of the partnership that "this is the right decision for the franchise, for our business, for Marvel, and for the fans."

Sony Pictures had previously brought two Spider-Men to the big screen across five separate films; first in 2002, with the Sam Raimi-helmed trilogy, fronted by Tobey Maguire, and the subsequent reboot in 2012 by Mark Webb with Andrew Garfield in the iconic costume. Both attempts met with somewhat mixed reviews, but Feige is confident that all the pieces are in place this time around.

"Marvel's involvement will hopefully deliver the creative continuity and authenticity that fans demand from the [Marvel Cinematic Universe]," Feige told Hollywood Reporter. "I am equally excited for the opportunity to have Spider-Man appear in the MCU, something which both we at Marvel, and fans alike, have been looking forward to for years."

The "creative continuity" Feige mentioned is what has fans salivating at the prospect of Spider-Man returning to the Marvel Studios fold. Marvel Studios' TV shows and movies all form part of an interconnected universe, and Spider-Man can now play a part in it. As one of Marvel Comics' most popular characters, it's an impressive feather in the Marvel Studios' cap.

It also seems like the current Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield, is unlikely to don the red and blue tights again, with Feige and Pascal set to "collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger".

While there's no word yet on which Marvel Studios film the character is set to appear in, the smart money is on the upcoming "Captain America: Civil War", as Spider-Man plays a central role in the 2006 comic series of the same name. Marvel and Sony Pictures have also hinted that they'll explore Marvel Studios characters making appearances in future Spider-Man standalone films.

There's also a chance that Feige and Pascal will take a leaf out of Ultimate Spider-Man's book and movie-goers will see a black Spider-Man, if Miles Morales is underneath the mask instead of the ubiquitous Peter Parker in this re-imagining.

Also unclear is what this means for Sony's related Spider-Man spin-offs, like the Sinister Six film schedules for 2016, and still being teased as recently as January 2015.

A previous collaboration between the two studios almost happened back prior to the release of Marvel Studios' blockbuster "The Avengers". While not the wall-crawler himself, his alma mater, Empire State University, was meant to appear as part of the Manhattan skyline.

Hopefully, fans won't need to wait too much longer for something a lot more amazing.

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Updated 5:07 p.m. AEDT:The Wrap is reporting that Andrew Garfield will not reprise his role as Spider-Man in the upcoming collaborations.