Could Spider-Man team up with the Avengers in a future Marvel superhero movie? The possibility is just about every comic book fan’s dream, and every so often a rumor circulates that it could happen. Usually it’s never more than a rumor cooked up by a fanboy, usually to kill time while he’s microwaving burritos in his mom’s basement, in spite of the fact that Marvel honcho Avi Arad has said repeatedly that it won’t ever happen. A little backstory–you know, for grown-ups: Marvel has divided its cinematic universe among several studios: Sony owns Spider-Man, 20th Century Fox owns X-Men and The Fantastic Four, and The Avengers is distributed by Disney. It’s possible, of course, for studios to combine forces and jointly release a movie–and why wouldn’t they? Superheroes are a cinematic golden goose--but it can’t happen without Marvel’s say-so.
That doesn’t stop the rumor-mongering. Today Drew McSweeney at Hitfix, following up on last week’s story that The Avengers 3 would be split into two parts, is reporting “that there are some very cool Spider-Man plans being discussed that would help Sony refocus their enormously important franchise while also opening up some connections in the onscreen Marvel movie universe that would blow fandom’s minds.” Unfortunately, and this is the moment when the microwave dings to tell you it’s done, McSweeney can’t actually confirm anything, but that “what seems clear from what I’ve heard is that Marvel wants to be able to play with all of their characters, and if they can make that work creatively and on a corporate level, they will, and that means the world gets bigger again.” It’s probably no more than the echo of a whisper of a rumor of a half-truth. However, and this is where it gets complicated, even though Arad is not interested in a crossover film, if it were to happen, he would want Spider-Man to be the star. “I think there are some stories that will fit beautifully into a cross. Spider-Man would be incredible mixed up with those other universes. But if we want to do that, the crossovers, it has to be a story that is absolutely centered on Spider-Man. We cannot be second banana to anything out there. Because this is the king. This is the one that influenced young people from birth,” he said a while back. And here’s the rub: Spider-Man just underwent an expensive reboot, and it underperformed. Meanwhile, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the X-Men are all crushing it at the box-office. Wolverine is the undoubted star of X-Men. Iron Man is the quarterback of The Avengers. Even if those two characters took a backseat in a possible crossover movie, it would be to Mystique or Captain America, not the smart-alec web-slinger. So a crossover with all these guys will probably only ever happen on paper; in the comics, that is.