Annotation by Robert:

Sony Pictures was recently hacked, revealing all manner of dirty laundry up to and including outright racism. From a moral standpoint, I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, mocking idiots and jerks is part of our job, including when we ourselves turn out to be idiots and/or jerks. On the other hand, even idiots and jerks have a right to keep their foolery secret. It’s a puzzle of the highest order, like a Rubik’s Klein bottle.

The pressing matter is the fact that Sony discussed some kind of deal with Marvel Studios regarding Spider-Man. For those unaware: Marvel Comics sold a lot of its characters’ movie rights to other studios long ago when it was strapped for cash, but are slowly recollecting those rights. That’s why the Marvel movies are all about characters the general public aren’t familiar with, save for Hulk – bigger names like the X-Men or Spider-Man are owned by other companies. Essentially, if these non-Marvel companies don’t make a movie starring Spider-Man/Daredevil/the X-Men every few years, they lose them to Marvel. This has already happened with Daredevil, who is now getting a Netflix series.

Sony Pictures, who has Spider-Man, previously seemed desperate to avoid the same fate – Spidey is Sony Pictures’ sole ace-in-the-hole. But Sony seems to be realising that you can’t make a deck consisting entirely of aces, and their head honchos aren’t cardsharps at the best of times. Another revelation of the hack was that Sony proposed a 21 Jump Street/Men In Black crossover, in what must be the saddest attempt at a shared universe yet, and the latest Bond movie has gone far over budget already. We make jokes about movie executives being out of touch all the time, but it’s a mote sobering to discover that the jokes are pretty accurate in some cases.

The fact of the matter is that Spider-Man will sell tickets even if the movie is him playing on a seesaw for two hours, but when Marvel Studios is winnowing gold out of obscure nobodies, it’s not hard to see why Sony might consider sharing the web-head. The overwhelming response to TASM is ‘hamstrung by execs’, regardless of one’s position on hipster Peter Parker or the dubstep Batman Forever-Jim Carrey impressionist he did battle with, and Marvel is known for puppeteering its properties very well. Ironically, it’s Sony that’s tangled in strings.