How should Sony expand the cinematic Spider-Man family?


s6Outside 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.

SM2Sony 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?

– Adam 

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(3) Comments

  1. Javi Trujillo

    I'd like to see Garfield do at least 4 pictures and I'm not opposed to seeing a 2099 or Miles Morales picture. In fact, I've been reading Ultimate Comics Spider-Man to my kids and my 7 year old daughter asked when they are doing a Miles movie. At this moment, I can't see how a Sinister Six movie would work and be successful with little to no Spidey. I'd rather it be Amazing Spider-Man 4: The Sinister Six where we have a focus on Spidey's character. The thing that resonates most to me about Webb's Amazing series is the focus on Peter and his humanity. The more grounded based in reality approach is really working in the new series' favor.

  2. Evan

    I am completely baffled about how a Sinister Six movie is going to work exactly (I guess they'll threaten Spidey in part 4, Venom in 3 to lead into his own pic? Seems strange. Will Spidey even be in the Sinister Six movie? I guess they could fight each other but the idea of any of them being played as heroes, as has been hinted at, just rings false.) Venom having his own movie is definitely doable, and certainly if you introduce the bigger bad that is Carnage, it would sort of force him into the hero role, but Venom works much better as a creepy antagonist who has a warped morality. I guess if I had to go ahead and build an Avengers style franchise from Spidey, I would take characters that could work on their own and do it somewhat similar to the Marvel Studios flicks, in hinting that they're part of this larger world while also making each movie stand on its own. Black Cat, Morbius, Scarlet Spider, you could make these characters work individually and then they could appear in a combined movie down the road. That of course would be a little tricky because they haven't really been a team before unless you were to go with the Outlaws or something (Maximum Carnage! I'm kidding, Sony please don't do this.) I guess Spiderman doesn't really lend itself to the world building that the Avengers did and it seems like Sony is trying to fit a circle peg into a square hole but amping it up as if it is Marvel studios. Spiderman is a part of the Marvel Universe, and his world isn't the same cosmic sprawling landscape that the Avengers or the X-Men live in. It's more down to earth (or at least it should be.) We'll see how this all plays out, but I'm a tad nervous as all of these studios want the Avengers but aren't approaching it in the same style as Marvel Studios had.

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