Spider-Man is returning to his Marvel home.

Sony has long owned the rights to the superhero, but will finally share him with Marvel Studios, first for a yet-to-be-announced crossover film with other Marvel characters and then for his own solo outing. Movie analysts have long speculated that Sony would turn to Marvel (and its parent company Disney) for help with the character whose films have been flailing as of late — at least compared to the mega-empire that is the Marvel Avengers’ franchise. But how Spider-Man returned to Marvel, and who benefits from this partnership, is a complicated web. Let’s try to untangle it:

Sony buys the rights to Spider-Man

Back in 1985, before superhero films had blockbuster appeal (just try to imagine it!), Marvel put the feature film rights to Spider-Man up for sale. There weren’t many takers, but eventually the comics company struck a deal with Cannon Films…

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