LOS ANGELES, CA -- Spider-Man will finally be welcomed into Marvel's Cinematic Universe of the Avengers, Sony and Marvel/Disney announced Monday night.
Though the statement did not mention exactly when the two worlds will collide, the new deal places the characters in the same cinematic universe, opening the door to allow them all to appear on the big screen together.
What's more, Marvel released the statement with a photo of Spidey and the Avengers, which fans took as a strong hint that the worlds will blend soon.
When the news broke, super-fans expressed their excitement on social media.
Spidey will first appear in an unspecified Marvel film, the release said, followed by the next installment of Sony's $4 billion Spider-Man franchise. The next Spider-man movie, out July 28, 2017, will be co-produced by Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige along with Sony's Amy Pascal.
Though it may be a little late for Peter Parker to join the team for the May 1 release of "Avengers: Age of Ultron," fans were excited at the possibility of Spider-Man joining the team when the franchise releases two more films. "Avengers: Infinity War Part 1" and "Avengers: Infinity War Part 2" will still be released on May 4, 2018, and May 3, 2019, respectively.
According to the release, other characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, such as Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, may also be integrated into future Spider-Man movies. Though the characters have interacted in Marvel's comic books for decades, they've been segregated in the movies because of various licensing agreements that predated the explosion of superhero movies.
"Amy (Pascal) has been deeply involved in the realization on film of one of the world's most beloved characters. Marvel's involvement will hopefully deliver the creative continuity and authenticity that fans demand from the MCU," Feige said in a statement.
Pascal, in the wake of the Sony hack, recently announced her transition from co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment to the head of a new production venture at the studio.
The Spider-Man pact is a significant partnership between rival studios Disney, who owns Marvel, and Sony, who holds rights to the Marvel-created Spider-Man character. Sony has launched two franchises on Spider-Man's back, with Sam Raimi's three films starring Tobey Maguire, followed by Marc Webb's reboot with Andrew Garfield for two films.
Meanwhile 20th Century Fox retains rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Though those characters are just as important as Spider-Man in the comics, they'll remain separate in the movies - for now, at least.
Rumors of a partnership between Disney and Sony over Spider-Man have been circulating for months.
"This is the right decision for the franchise, for our business, for Marvel, and for the fans," said Sony Chairman Michael Lynton.
"Spider-Man is one of Marvel's great characters, beloved around the world. We're thrilled to work with Sony Pictures to bring the iconic web-slinger into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which opens up fantastic new opportunities for storytelling and franchise building," Walt Disney Studios Chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement.
Marvel's meticulously calibrated schedule has also been altered by the new partnership.
In addition to the new "Avengers" films in May this year, 2018 and 2019, "Thor: Ragnarok," originally scheduled for July 28, 2017, will hit theaters Nov. 3, 2017. "Black Panther" will debut on July 6, 2018, back from its Nov. 3, 2017, release; "Captain Marvel" is set for a Nov. 2, 2018, release; and "Inhumans" will now debut in theaters July 12, 2019.
The Associated Press / Lindsey Bahr contributed to this report.