Excelsior! Spider-Man has rejoined the fold at Marvel Studios! Spider-Man, the glaringly absent Avenger, has now been brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
What's that? He wasn't part of it already? Yes! Back in the late 1990's, Marvel Comics was still an independent company and made two deals with Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox to produce theatrical films based on Spider-Man and X-Men, its biggest franchises. These deals gave the studios the rights to make films as long as they kept doing so. This led to two gigantic franchises that, while they provided cash for Marvel, were less lucrative than they could have been. So Marvel set about creating its own Cinematic Universe using the characters it hadn't sold off.
Wall Street felt that the leftover characters were not going to be successful and largely wrote off the endeavor. After the humongous success of Iron Man, however, they couldn't write off Marvel for much longer. Soon Disney came calling and bought Marvel Comics outright for what Wall Street thought was too much money. Sure a lesser title like Iron Man had been successful, but there couldn't be much more to mine, right?
Wall Street was wrong yet again. Marvel Studios has consistently produced films that have grossed BILLIONS with no end in sight. The success of Guardians of the Galaxy which was a relatively unknown commodity prior to this summer made everyone take notice. At this point, Marvel could probably reboot Howard the Duck into a successful property.
Enter Spider-Man. Sony Pictures made another Spider-Man film this summer because it had to and the product suffered at the box office. After an unknown Guardians beat the established Spider-Man head to head, it was only a matter of time before Sony would rethink things. And they have in a big way- Spider-Man will now be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sony will still produce its films, but they will be made in concert with Marvel's films. Spider-Man will also be able to appear in Marvel's Avengers films as well. It's long overdue! Welcome home, Spidey!