Spider-Man’s rights negotiations have stalled. Thus, Spider-Man’s MCU future is in question. Several fans have reacted negatively to this news. Many online petitions and articles have been created. Yet this could prove to be quite the boon for Marvel Studios. Marvel could introduce Spider-Woman who might prove as popular for moviegoers.
I am speaking of Jessica Drew: the first Spider-Woman. However, there is the question if Marvel Studios actually has Spider-Woman’s film rights.
Marvel near Bankruptcy, Rights for Sale
You may remember that, in the late 1990s, Marvel was facing tough financial times. Facing bankruptcy, Marvel sold off several properties’ movie rights to different studios. The rights to X-Men and the Fantastic Four were both sold to FOX studios. However, Spider-Man was Marvel’s most lucrative property and its rights were sold to Sony Pictures.
Marvel initially offered the entire Marvel universe (sans X-Men and Fantastic Four) for $25 million. However, Sony’s head at the time stated that the real money was Spider-Man and only Spider-Man. Thus, Sony bought web-slinger’s movie rights for only $7 million.
Cooperation with Marvel
Sony had an internal email leak in November 2014. Sony, after the leak, was very open to negotiation with Marvel. This put the idea of Peter Parker in the MCU on the table. Marvel has had many years of success with the MCU and, therefore, found itself in a position of strength.
However, Marvel was incredibly fair in the initial deal. Sony gets to keep merchandising rights while the two studios split the production cost. These merchandising rights extend to anything that specifically relates to the co-produced films. What this means is the sale of a Spider-Man t-shirt goes to Marvel. However, the sale of a SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME poster goes to Sony.
Sony’s rights extended to ‘Spider-Man and all associated characters,’ which included villains and supporting characters. At the same time, Sony thinks they have the rights to Spider-Woman as well.
Amy Pascal, former Sony Pictures head, had a pet project. This project was code-named GLASS CEILING. GLASS CEILING was to feature an all-women team of superheroes. Rumors suggest this was a partial influence for 2016’s box office disappointing GHOSTBUSTERS reboot.
Of the superheroines rumored to appear, the most reoccurring names were Black Cat, Silver Sable, and Spider-Woman. But, Spider-Woman’s identity fluctuated across rewrites. For instance, early concepts for the film were rumored to be Jessica Drew. Then, the comic book debut of SPIDER-GWEN saw those rumors shift to a cloned Gwen Stacy.
How to do Spider-Woman in the MCU
Sony’s internal documents discussed Spider-Woman’s rights. These documents were part of the infamous Sony leak. My analysis is Spider-Woman was not a part of the Sony purchase. Jessica Drew is distinctly unique to Peter Parker in every way. This includes her origin, powers, supporting cast, and characterization. To sum it up, she is not an ‘associated character.’ She does not have any ‘Spider-Man related elements’.
I must stress, this is my layman interpretation of these documents. Lawyers have been billed for thousands of dollars going over this paperwork. There is a chance a legal expert may know something I don’t. The movie-going audience has very little knowledge of Spider-Woman. This, in my opinion, could be very beneficial, as these are some potential strengths that Spider-Woman brings to the MCU.
Spider-Woman is Not a Female Spider-Man
Jessica Drew is not a female Peter Parker, at least aside from her Ultimate version counterpart. The two heroes are as different in personality as two people can get. Jessica is a professional that likes to lay low. Usually, she doesn’t like to be the flashiest person in the room, preferring to be underestimated. Also, she doesn’t quip and throw insults. Overall, Jessica’s’ greatest character trait is her well of compassion.
HYDRA is a large part of Jessica’s origin. Since HYDRA is a constant antagonistic force in the MCU, that makes it extremely easy to incorporate her into the films. Even the most casual MCU viewer would know who HYDRA is. Along with that, HYDRA’s history of experimenting on humans without need of exposition.
Young Jessica Drew was exposed to high levels of radiation. To save her life, her father used an experimental serum. This serum was based on spider-blood as a radiation treatment. When treated, Jessica went into a state of suspended animation. After a decade, she was eventually found by HYDRA.
The loss of Black Widow in ENDGAME has left a gap. Movie audiences will be looking for a new female super-spy. This role fits Jessica to a T, as she was originally a member of HYDRA but quickly switched and has since worked with SHIELD and SWORD for many years. The spy life just works with Jessica.
Spider-Woman Doesn’t Web-Sling
Jessica Drew does not web-sling. For her, web-shooters were never a part of her arsenal. Aside from the occasional nod and wink, Jessica never had web-shooters.
Spider-Woman’s preferred method of travel is gliding. She achieves this using her natural gifts in conjunction with under-arm wings sewn into her costume. Gliding might not sound as distinctive as swinging web to web.
Spider-Woman’s gliding fits with her character. For her, it’s a silent approach, something that no one would notice. Also, instead of web-shooters, Spider-Woman has a very different weapon in her arsenal. Jessica can emit an electro-chemical blast from her hands. These blasts are so powerful, she was even able to one-shot takedown Venom.
She’s Not as Strong as Peter (But That’s OK)
Spider-Woman might not lift as much as Spider-Man. Both heroes are in the ‘can lift a car’ range. At that point, the difference in their strength is purely academic. Their first meeting (SPIDER-WOMAN #8) had the strength difference shown. In the comic, Peter proved himself the stronger of the two. However, strength isn’t everything.
Jessica has actual combat training. In fact, she has a history of besting Peter in combat. Therefore, they can showcase Spider-Woman’s fighting style. Her use of superpowers with hand to hand combat could be very striking and unlike anything seen prior.
Spider-Woman is Super-Besties with Carol Danvers
Jessica and Carol Danvers have a long friendship in the comics. Their first meeting is when Carol was at her literal worst. Mere moments before, Rogue had drained Carol dry and threw her off a bridge. Jessica was the one that swooped in, saving the then-catatonic Ms. Marvel from a watery grave. In the end, a friendship formed between the two heroines.
After Rogue’s attack, Carol had no emotional attachment to her memories. At that point, she was a very cold person. Jessica and Carol first met after the attack. At that point, Jessica was the first real person with whom she formed an emotional connection. The two were even roommates for a short period. Carol’s film debut saw mixed reception but having her play off of someone else might endear the character to a wider audience.
Solo Movie or Cameo First?
The MCU’s next phase is already in motion. This leaves very little wiggle room and no plans for another tent-pole franchise film. In fact, CIVIL WAR demonstrated that a hero’s introduction does not need to be a solo movie. I’d recommend an introduction in the CAPTAIN MARVEL sequel. They can even revisit the roommates’ angle.
There are many opportunities Marvel can take if they bring in Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman. She can bring more spy thrillers to the MCU, as well as a more unique take on superhero combat. As a long-time fan of this character, I would love for Spider-Woman to be introduced to a moviegoing audience.