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How The Green Goblin Joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The new Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) trailer dropped and it finally confirms several rumors about the last Spider-Man movie set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has a bunch of amazing reveals and a complex storyline. 

It follows up on the ending of Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) when Daily Bugle owner J. Jonah Jameson (J. K. Simmons) reveals Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is Spider-Man. Parker has also been framed for the death of  Quentin Beck aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) and the world is turning against him. Spider-Man asks Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to erase everyone's memory of his secret identity. Somehow it opens the door to the multi-verse and characters from Sony's previous movies return to fight the web-slinger.

How the Spider-Man Live-Action Rights Went to Sony

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Max Dillon / Electro (Jamie Foxx) and Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield)

So how did this happen? Jumping in the "Way-Back Machine" to the 1990s. A cash-strapped Marvel sold off the rights to produce live-action movies or shows based on some of their characters. In 1999, Sony Pictures Entertainment acquired film rights for a reported $7 million. After three Spider-Man movies, the studio decided to change direction. By 2010 Sony was planning their own shared universe of movies. They saw the mountains of cash Marvel was making off the MCU and planned their own. They decided to use the Marvel characters they had bought from Marvel. 

When The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) was released Sony said they planned to make a whole bunch of interconnected spin-offs using Spider-Man friends and villains including Venom and Black Cat. But when The Amazing Spider-Man sequel bombed they scrapped their plans. In 2015 Marvel and Sony worked out a deal to allow him into the MCU with several select characters but keeping ownership of the character for future use. 

Are the Sony Spider-Man Movies Connected to the MCU?

For some time it was believed that Sony's Spider-Man Universe, or SSU as it's called internally, was disconnected from the MCU. 

In 2017 both Homecoming director John Watts and Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige both said Sony's upcoming Venom was "not connected to the Marvel world". But then Sony former exec Amy Pascal clarified "First, there is Spider-Man happily in the place where he’s supposed to be which is in the Marvel Universe. I think everything comes from that. This is the signpost, the tentpole, the signature and… the other movies that Sony’s going to make, in their relationship to this [MCU] Spider-Man, take place in this world. Although you’re not going to see them in the Marvel Universe, it’s in the same reality."

In 2018 studio revealed that the long-delayed Venom solo movie would be the first in a series of connected projects that would co-exist. Basically, Sony was reviving its SSU concept. "Spider-Man connects to a lot of the characters," Sanford Panitch, president of Columbia Pictures told Variety. "There are villains, heroes, and antiheroes, and a lot are female characters, many of whom are bona fide, fully dimensionalized, and utterly unique." The two cinematic universes would be separate but equal and crossover in the future. The doorway to Tom Holland's Spider-Man fighting Venom seemed open.

Everything seemed to be going well until 2019 dropped a bombshell. Talks between the studios broke down and it was revealed Spider-Man would no longer be in the MCU. But Tom Holland personally spoke with Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Motion Picture Group Thomas E. Rothman. Rothman and Disney CEO Bob Iger came together and restructured a deal that would allow one more solo film and some MCU characters to appear in Sony movies.

The new trailer confirms is that the previous Spider-Man movies from Sony are being connected to the MCU. The animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse showed a world where different versions of Spider-Man cross dimensions to team up. The movies Doctor Strange (2016) and Avengers: End Game (2019) along with the 2021 limited series Loki (2021) showed that alternate universes exist in the MCU. This appears to be the same scenario in the new Spider-Man movie.

Rise of the Sinister Six

The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1964) by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

This movie sets up that the Sam Raimi trilogy of the 1990s is now in the Marvel Universe. It also bolsters rumors that Sony is building "The Sinister Six". The Sinister Six is a team of super-villains dedicated to killing the wall-crawler. The original team is formed by Norman Osborn aka Green Goblin and included Otto Octavius aka Doctor Octopus, Max Dillon known as Electro, Kraven the Hunter, the original Mysterio, Flint Marko aka Sandman, and the original Vulture. They first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1964) and were created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

We see Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) alive and well after his drowning in Spider-Man 2. Even though Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) was impaled by his glider one of Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs drops to the ground and we hear Dafoe's creepy laugh. 

Jamie Foxx confirmed he's playing Electro in the movie in a now-deleted Instagram post promising "I won't be blue in this one". 

There's a shot of Spider-Man fighting someone with bolts of yellow lightning. There's even a few moments in the trailer where Spider-Man is in a fight that has a man-shaped cloud of sand. 

It suggests Marc Webb's movies are being brought into the universe as well. There's also the persistent rumor that two of the live-action actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield will be in the movie.

While Sony and Marvel had a very public breakup there are signs that the future of Spider-Man movies will continue to be connected. 

For example, the first trailer for Morbius (2022) also shows that Michael Keaton is reprising his role of Adrian Toomes aka the Vulture from Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Will other MCU characters appear in Sony's Marvel Universe? We'll have to wait and see. But it means the Marvel Live-Action infographic needs an update. I've separated the characters that have been confirmed to appear in the Sony films and the ones that have appeared in both the MCU and the SSU. 

That said, I've also taken the opportunity to update our Marvel rights infographic. You can check the main post for a list of all the changes.

Click the image above for the full-size version. 
Click on the link for the hi-res version.

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About the Author
Maurice Mitchell has been a passionate science-fiction fan of movies, television, books, and comics since age five. He and his twin brother Nigel created the site "The Geek Twins" to share that passion. Maurice has written and created infographics for sites like The Geek Twins and About.com. His work has been featured on sites like Business Insider, io9 Slashfilm, and more.

Follow him on Twitter @Mauricem1972 

What do you think is going to happen to the future of Spider-Man? Let us know in the comments below!

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