Just yesterday, we heard the very sad and strange tale of the acrimony that currently exists between Marvel and Fox, the studio that owns the 'X-Men' and 'Fantastic Four' movie rights. It will very likely be a cold day in hell by the time we ever see the likes of Iron Man and Wolverine pair up on the big screen (regardless of what Hugh Jackman says), but is it possible that The Avengers could actually be crossing over with another superhero from another universe? Namely, The Amazing Spider-Man?

This is very much a rumor and originated from Hitfix where it was passed on as such:

While I can't get the confirmations I need to verify the story, I'm hearing 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... 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.

We attempted to confirm that report with some of our own sources and basically ran into the same roadblocks that Hitfix did. There may be some discussions going on, but it's unclear as to what level of interest both sides - Sony and Marvel - have in making this deal work or if it will ever work. But, here's why they really need to make it work.

On the Sony side, producer Avi Arad has previously said he has no interest in letting Spider-Man crossover into the 'Avengers' world. "We cannot be second banana to anything out there. Because this is the king." Sony worked hard at creating their own "Spider-Man Universe," but as we saw in 'Amazing Spider-Man 2,' there's not a whole lot of audience interest in that universe. That last Spider-Man movie was the least grossing film in the entire franchise by a wide margin (down over $60 million from the first 'Amazing Spider-Man'). Spider-Man is one of the most important properties Sony owns, but the the franchise is not flourishing; it's slowly dying. (Just think about this: 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' a title no one knew anything about one year ago, out-grossed 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' by over $120 million. From a Sony standpoint, that should not be happening.)

Sony desperately needs to find a way to revitalize their flagging 'Spider-Man' franchise. They've delayed 'Amazing Spider-Man 3' while they figure out a way to do that...and a way to do that might be to allow Spider-Man to mingle with the Marvel Studios heroes. Whether this is the Andrew Garfield version of Spider-Man or, yet another, rebooted and recast version is up in the air, but there would obviously be a very significant bump by allowing that character to make the occasional appearance in whatever massive movie Marvel is planning.

And on the Marvel side, it works very simply because Marvel would very much like to have all their characters back. Marvel likes to be in control and it must be killing them to see what other studios and producers are doing with some of their most beloved characters. Marvel president Kevin Feige has previously said that if he could have one character back it would be Spider-Man, who fits in very well with the Avengers universe. Marvel doesn't need Spider-Man, but they sure would love to have him back.

Obviously, these discussions are very early and what exactly they're discussing is unclear. As we've reported previously, Sony and Marvel almost agreed on having Oscorp Tower appear in the Manhattan skyline during 'The Avengers' but it was too far along in the VFX process, so the two sides are at least chummy. There are lots of issues that would need to be worked out - Is there joint creative control? Would Disney let Sony release a Spider-Man movie that Marvel Studios was producing? - but it's a decision that would have a major financial windfall for all parties. And when money talks, bulls--- walks.

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