Contrary to the possible misrepresentation of Sony Co-Chair Amy Pascal’s comments, an expanding Universe based solely around Spider-Man has a great deal of potential. Yes, there is a risk of Spideyverse exhaustion (although the reboot being so successful in spite of it being less than five years after the Raimi trilogy suggests otherwise), but I believe Pascal was suggesting Spiderverse-based films that don’t necessarily include Spider-Man. Unfortunately, with superhero films, we’re locked into the blockbuster mentality. That’s why I think Sony may be the best bet when it comes to breaking open a larger Spider-Man Universe. Sony has shown by continuing franchises like Resident Evil and Underworld that they’re comfortable with their subsidiaries occasionally turning a profit of less than $100 million. This is where I see many of the Spideyverse spin-off films falling. Again, this all comes down to who has the rights to the below characters.
(note: this is part two in a series exploring why we don’t need the X-Men and Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. See part one here.)
First, I’d like to suggest Spider-Man Dark. Rumors suggest Guillermo del Toro is trying to bring a version of Justice League Dark to the big screen for DC. Thanks to the Spider-Man roster Sony has at least two opportunities to beat DC in that arena: Morbius and Cloak and Dagger.
Morbius, the Living Vampire
As a scientist who becomes a vampire due to failed research into a cure for his blood disease the origina of Morbius fits neatly into the “OsCorp experiments are responsible for creating super powers” narrative. Morbius shouldn’t be the primary villain in a Spider-Man film. Instead, I’d love to see the Spidey films start like an Indiana Jones or James Bond flick featuring a short introductory adventure at the start of the film introducing a new character and wrapping up before the title credits start. A solo Morbius could be Sony’s new Underworld franchise.
Cloak & Dagger
Cloak and Dagger have such a compelling back story they don’t need to appear on the screen with Spider-Man before spinning off on their own. Their story deals with drug abuse, the Mafia (or the Maggia in this case), social stratification, vengeance, and devotion. When it comes to their powers Cloak and Dagger are both blessed and cursed at the same time. Dagger’s light beams can cure drug addicts, but they also wipe out a person’s strength. She needs to discharge her energy with regular frequency. Cloak has an insatiable hunger that he can only feed through Dagger’s light or by absorbing people into his darkness and spitting them back out. As for visuals, they have those in surplus. Think about that first scene where we barely notice Cloak unfolding from the shadows and Dagger exploding from inside him with her light daggers firing at the screen.
After Spider-Man Dark we have Spider-Man: Top Secret.
Spider-Man: Top Secret
Silver Sable and the Wild Pack
Sure, the MCU has S.H.I.E.L.D., but the Spideyverse has the Wild Pack. The Pack is an organization led by Silver Sable and includes a rotating roster of mercenaries, b-list heroes, and the occasional villain. Silver Sable International could be hinted at in a Spider-Man film, but the Wild Pack never actually need to appear in a film that includes Spider-Man. The majority of the members of Wild Pack made their debut in Spider Man titles. Some of the members that could look great on screen, but might not be able to carry a film on their own include Prowler, Puma, Rocket Racer, and Sandman. The roster could be further fleshed out by adding…
While Solo lives, terror dies! Or something. The rights to Punisher, a gun wielding anti-hero who made his debut in a Spider-Man title, have reverted back to Marvel. That’s okay, because Spidey still has the gun wielding anti-hero Solo. The self described counter-terrorist already has a path being paved thanks to Sony’s desire to make a Sinister Six film. In one of Solo’s most memorable appearances he thinks he’s fighting the villainous six pack, but due to a trick by Mysterio he’s in reality battling Spider-Man. Solo has teamed up with Silver Sable in the comics, so it wouldn’t be a stretch for the film character to be enlisted into Wild Pack the on screen universe
New Venom origin story. Flash Thompson goes to war and comes back without his legs. OsCorp offers the former football star a once in a lifetime opportunity if he takes part in an experiment using a lab developed organic substance. The substance is the symbiote and the experiment goes horribly wrong turning Flash into Venom (I know, I know, I’m completely writing out Eddie Brock, but that’s Hollywood). After spending a film fighting Spider-Man, Flash is enlisted into Wild Pack with Silver Sable promising to use the resources of Silver Sable International to help control the symbiote.
Finally, we have the SpiderMultiverse.
Brian Michael Bendis has announced a sequel to the popular Spider-Men where Ultimates universe Spider-Man Miles Morales meets Earth-616 Spider-Man Peter Parker. Having Peter Parker step through a tear in the space time continuum would be a neat cinematic trick, but there’s no reason Miles couldn’t hold his own in a film called The Ultimate Spider-Man. It could open with the death of the Ultimate Peter Parker and follow Miles has he tries to fill the void left behind. Disney and Fox have shown a commitment to at the least making an effort to bring more minority superheroes to the big screen, so this is one way Sony could do the same.
This film, like a Miles Morales film, requires the studio trusting that the film going public will be more interested in a fun film filled with lots of futuristic eye candy more than caring whether or not Peter Parker is the man behind the mask. Personally, I think the film going public, unlike a loud minority of fan boys, has the ability to understand there can be multiple realities with multiple Spider-Men. Of my six Spideyverse spin-off picks this is the least likely to ever see the light of day. There are very few directors who could deftly pull off Spider-Man infused with a mixture of Matrix action and the cybernoir atmosphere of Blade Runner.
How do we get from Avengers: Endgame and Dark Phoenix to a Secret Wars film?