Face front, true believers. The rumors were true: Sony and Marvel have worked out a deal that will allow Spider-Man to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man in The Avengers? Now it’s possible.

According to Marvel’s press release, “the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.” After that, that new Spidey will spin off into “the next installment of [Sony’s] $4 billion Spider-Man franchise on July 28, 2017. Kevin Feige, Marvel’s movie wizard, will co-produce Sony’s Spidey series along with his “expert team at Marvel” and Amy Pascal, the former Sony chief who’s been involved with their Spider-Man films since the first Sam Raimi film.

The press release makes clear: “Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films.” But, Spidey will also become a member of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, and potentially vice-versa; the press release says Marvel and Sony are also discussing plans to “integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films.” So, hypothetically, Iron Man or Hulk or Hawkeye could show up for a cameo (or more?) in Sony’s first Spider-Man movie.

This is huge news and there are parts of it that remain to be clarified. Marvel specifically refers to this as a “new” Spider-Man, which suggests Andrew Garfield is out of a job. (Garfield himself is not mentioned at all in the press release.) It also remains to be seen what this means for Drew Goddard’s Sinister Six film, which was supposed to follow last year’s Amazing Spider-Man 2, And just where will the new Spidey debut? If his own movie comes out on July 28, 2017, that leaves three main possibilities: Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, or Guardians of the Galaxy 2. (We’d bet on the first one.) Could he pop up in a cameo in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Or Ant-Man? It seems pretty far-fetched, but a few months ago this whole idea seemed far-fetched, so who knows.

The new Sony Spider-Man movie will affect Marvel’s upcoming release calendar as well. Previously, Marvel’s own Thor: Ragnarok was scheduled to open on July 28, 2017. As part of the deal, that film is moving to November 3, 2017. Meanwhile, Black Panther, which was originally scheduled for November 3, 2017 moves to July 6, 2018. That date previously belonged to Captain Marvel, which will now open on November 2, 2018, the date previously held by Inhumans, which moves to July 12, 2019. These movies literally don’t come out for four and a half years.

Lots more to discuss, but for now, here’s the full press release from Marvel:

(Culver City, California, and Burbank, California February 09, 2015) – Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios announced today that Sony is bringing Marvel into the amazing world of Spider-Man.

Under the deal, the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU). Sony Pictures will thereafter release the next installment of its $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by Kevin Feige and his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films.

Marvel and Sony Pictures are also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films.

The new relationship follows a decade of speculation among fans about whether Spider-Man – who has always been an integral and important part of the larger Marvel Universe in the comic books – could become part of the Marvel Universe on the big screen. Spider-Man has more than 50 years of history in Marvel’s world, and with this deal, fans will be able to experience Spider-Man taking his rightful place among other Super Heroes in the MCU.

Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company said: “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.”
“We always want to collaborate with the best and most successful filmmakers to grow our franchises and develop our characters. Marvel, Kevin Feige and Amy, who helped orchestrate this deal, are the perfect team to help produce the next chapter of Spider-Man,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “This is the right decision for the franchise, for our business, for Marvel, and for the fans.”
“Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios share a love for the characters in the Spider-Man universe and have a long, successful history of working together. This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future,” added Doug Belgrad, president, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group.
“I am thrilled to team with my friends at Sony Pictures along with Amy Pascal to produce the next Spider-Man movie,” said Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. “Amy 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. I am equally excited for the opportunity to have Spider-Man appear in the MCU, something which both we at Marvel, and fans alike, have been looking forward to for years.”
Spider-Man, embraced all over the world, is the most successful franchise in the history of Sony Pictures, with the five films having taken in more than $4 billion worldwide.