Outside of my interest in comics and Spider-Man, I am also interested in cinema storytelling and the process which films go though from inception to release. A number of news story’s lately have caught my attention and I wanted to work through them, if you’ll allow me.
I think it’s safe to say that in 2008 Marvel Studios changed the face of cinema. The first Iron Man movie was a critical and financial success. A company who owned this relatively unknown character took a huge gamble and brought him to the big screen. At last count the movie has grossed $318,412,101. I don’t even know to pronounce that number, so it’s no wonder Disney took notice. Later that same year Marvel released the Incredible Hulk. Whatever your opinion of the movie it is essential to Marvel’s success. Those you stuck around until the end of the film were treated to a cameo that would change the face of cinema. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark wandered into a bar to discuss an “unusual problem” with General Ross. The Marvel cinematic universe was born. From there Marvel studios, powered by Disney, have gone on to not only conquer the comic book movie world, but the whole of Hollywood. Since it’s release just over a month ago Captain America: The Winter Soldier has grossed $228,529,867 in the US alone. At this point, baring the Incredible Hulk I think ever Marvel movie has been a critical and financial success. Thanks to Box Office Mojo for the numbers.
Unlike in the comic industry, Marvel studios has more than one big competitor. Many other movie studios are trying to emulate the Marvel model. I could speculate for hours about the upcoming Superman/Batman and Justice League movies and the proposed X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover, but for now I would like to focus on Sony and their Spider-Man franchise.
Sony has the biggest obstacle to creating a cinematic universe. They only have one property, a property based on one character. Fox can toy around with X-Men concepts for years before they run out of characters and designs. That’s before you even include the Fantastic Four universe. Despite that Sony, like Warner Bros. and Fox are hoping to build their own cinematic universe. It was announced recently, by Sony Co-chairman Amy Pascel, that they hope to release a Spider-Man movie every year. Or I should say a Spider-Man themed movie every year. The proposal, for the time being, suggests that Sony is going to focus on villainous characters such as the Sinister Six and Venom. While films about a group of criminals teaming up have worked in the past, and while I’m a huge fan of Drew Goddard’s Cabin in the Woods, this does not feel like the next organic step in this series.
The current Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield, has made the most obvious suggestion concerning the next step of the franchise. Introduce a new Spider-Man. While Spider-Man is Peter Parker, there are other heroes who have donned the Spider when they’ve had to. However Avi Arad, the producer of the Spider-Man series does not wish to consider this avenue. I can understand if he was afraid of diluting the franchise, but surely Spider-Man movies without a Spider-Man hurt the franchise more. Cinema goes expecting to see a new Spider-Man movie are going to be disappointed that the character only appears in, at best, a cameo. Sony have pencilled in Amazing Spider-Man 3 for 2016, and the Sinister Six sometime before 2018. At which point a new actor will be playing Spider-Man, as Andrew Garfield has suggested that the next instalment will be his last outing as Spider-Man.
While Sony have released some promotional image for the Sinister Six, it seems the movie itself is a long way off, and is spinning off from a Spider-Man who won’t be in the mask when it is released. While I enjoyed Amazing Spider-Man 2, it’s critical success has been mixed. If Amazing 3 receives similar reviews, this is not a safe foundation for a series of spin-offs and I doubt Sony will be able to resist retelling the origin when they recast the character. Will the “Amazing” universe still be in play in 2018?
If I may play armchair producer for a moment, the best way for Sony to make money from Spider-Man, and keep the property interesting is to let him play in the Avengers universe, or build up a rota of Spider-Men for the audience to become invested in. I think a large part of Marvel’s success if that they are willing to play in a number of different genres and experiment (take Guardians of the Galaxy for instance – “You’re Welcome”), I think it would be great to see a Miles Morales, 2099 or Spider-Woman movie in the future.
What do you think?
Are you interested in a Sinister Six and Venom movie, an ongoing Peter Parker that could last more than three movies, or a passing of the torch to another Spider?