Could Spider-Man cameo on ABC’s upcoming Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD series which starts this fall? It’s not as crazy as it sounds and I’m not saying that he will. I’m just saying that it is a distinct possibility that the webslinger may pop-up on the small screen in some way. No, seriously. Bare with me here, okay?
We all know that the rights to various Marvel characters are spread out all across the entertainment world. Back in the 80s and 90s when Marvel wasn’t in a position to make it’s own movies, they divided up the movie rights to their properties to whoever would pay for them. Those rights came with a certain catch: the companies who took control of those properties could retain the rights only so long as they kept making movies based on them. If they didn’t, then Marvel would get them back. That was the case with Iron Man in 2008 which was recovered from Artisan along with the majority of the properties Marvel has now made movies based on. That is also the case with Blade and the Punisher – both of which have recently returned to Marvel. (Daredevil may soon follow if Fox doesn’t get on that.)
This requirement is partially why we saw a revamp of the Spider-Man series recently and really the only reason they are rushing to revamp the Fantastic Four series. Sony knows it can keep making tons of money as long as it churns out successful Spider-Man films and Fox desperately wants to hold on to the Fantastic Four because they could be the next money making superhero team. I mean, the last two films they made didn’t do too bad. And the first one actually wasn’t that bad. Plus, you know, super heroes are in. Fox also has the X-Men and all related characters so. Marvel is never getting them back. Especially not as long as they keep making Wolverine movies and keep pushing forward with this recent onslaught of awesome new X-Men movies.
So we’ll never see Spider-Man or Wolverine joining the Avengers on the big screen. It’s sad but it’s a fact that we’ve all just got to accept. The only except to the rule seems to be Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch who – though they are the children of Magneto but they are also long standing members of the Avengers. To the point that I think they may have been Avengers first? Don’t quote me on that. My silver age comic knowledge is extremely limited. Like, basically not existent. The point is that they are so tied to the Avengers canon that both Marvel and Fox can use them in their movies and are currently doing so. Quicksilver at least will appear in both X-Men: Days of Future Past and Avengers 2. (I don’t know why Joss insists on using him but whatever. I just really hope it doesn’t wind up being Aaron Johnson because I hate him.) The only catch is that Marvel cannot mention Magneto and Fox can’t mention the Avengers.
Here’s the thing though: that’s just the movies.
Marvel has retained the television rights to all of their properties. All of them. This is why back in the day when we were kids they had that episode of X-Men: Evolution where Wolverine and Captain America where buddies in World War II and liberated a young Magneto and others from a concentration camp. It’s why you have Spider-Man working for SHIELD and joined by a never ending string of superhero cameos in the Ultimate Spider-Man. Marvel can theoretically do whatever it wants with the characters who are controlled by Fox and Sony so long as they limit that interaction to their television shows.
So far Marvel – and now Disney – have limited these crossovers to their cartoon series. In the Ultimate Spider-Man we see one episode where Spider-Man accidentally loses Captain America’s shield and it bounces into the Latvarian embassy right in front of Doctor Doom. They can do whatever they want. Heck, in the next season of Ultimate Spider-Man they are even going to have Spider-Man join the Avengers! At least according to a Disney press release. As far as television is concerned, there are no limits for Spider-Man.
With that in mind, technically, Spider-Man could be on the SHIELD television series.
In fact, under that logic, anyone member of the X-Men, Fantastic Four, or any character attached to the Daredevil franchise could as well.
Though Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is a live-action television series it is still a television series. It doesn’t matter that it ties into the cinematic universe. Joss Whedon and everyone else have made it very clear that beyond Phil Coulson and Maria Hill’s involvement with the show it is going to be a very separate entity as far as Marvel is concerned. The movies are the movies. Agents of SHIELD will tackle something else entirely.
Now, sure, I could see Sony getting up in arms over the fact that regardless of how separate they may make Agents of SHIELD from the cinematic universe the fact of the matter is that the show still belongs in the cinematic universe. It’s not like Ultimate Spider-Man which takes it’s queues from the movies but is a separate series all together. Agents of SHIELD relies on the movies entirely to draw in an audience and to maintain an audience. You can bet your ass if Spider-Man showed up as an actual character we’d see Disney (and Marvel) and Sony in court battling it out to establish what the actual limits are regarding these rights agreements.
So, could Spider-Man cameo on Agents of SHIELD?
Yes, he could. Will he? I am almost 100% positive that he will not.
Spider-Man is not going to be a character in Agents of SHIELD. Not a reoccurring one, anyway. Not even one they feature in a single episode, I’m sure. Let’s just get that out of the way now. He’s not going to be on Agents of SHIELD. Not like we would like him to be anyway.
But that doesn’t mean that they can’t have a little fun with it and thumb their noses at Sony a little bit. There is nothing to keep Agents of SHIELD from mentioning an ‘amateur vigilante in New York who thinks he’s a spider or something’ or planting a prop copy of the Daily Bugle in a scene. A picture of the Lizard could be a neat and iconic ‘strange phenomenon’ for someone to pull up in a montage of strange occurrences on a computer screen during a SHIELD briefing. They might even go so far as to have someone bump into a high school kid with a camera during a scene set in New York City. They don’t even have to say it’s Peter Parker. We could just appreciate the homage.
We don’t need to have Spider-Man on screen. A few flippant remarks referencing him or someone else in the Spider-Man franchise would be enough. Just now and again they remind us all that Spider-Man should be a part of all of this but Marvel’s own short sightedness robbed us of that. (Was the Tobey Maguire series really worth it Marvel? Was it?)
It wouldn’t be much but I think it would be a nice nod to the fans and to the sort of history Spider-Man has in the comics.
I mean, it’s incredibly sad that Spider-Man will never be able to join the Avengers on film. The relationships he has with the various other members – especially during Marvel’s Civil War and the build up to that arch – are phenomenal. (Then, you know, they screwed up everything by retconning it all through magic or something which royally ticked me off.) And short of Marvel deciding to do an adult Civil War-based cartoon – that Disney would probably never let them do – we’re probably never going to see any of those relationships really developed. Well, except when Spider-Man joins the Avengers next season in the Ultimate Spider-Man, I guess. Even Andrew Garfield agrees.
Agents of SHIELD can and should give fans that little bit of fan service. Even if it’s just through a few Easter eggs now and again. It’d be a missed opportunity if they don’t, I think. The viewers would love it and Sony couldn’t do a damned thing about it. It’d be great.
C’mon, Disney. C’mon Marvel. Just throw us one little Easter egg!
You know you want to…