Fox has created multiple franchises from its deal with Marvel over its mutant characters. They also have a number of potential franchises they can employ from their Fantastic Four license, if that reboot ever gets up and running. And Disney has made billions from its Avengers series of films. It’s only natural that Sony would want to parlay its Spider-Man license into a universe of related films as well, and it looks like that is what they are going to do.
The Wrap is relaying the comments Sony Pictures Entertainment Co-Chairman Amy Pascal at a presentation the studio made for investors today. Naturally, the discussion turned to the studio’s Spider-Man franchise, and Pascal said that Sony was “going to access Marvel’s full world of Spider-Man characters, so be on the lookout for new heroes and villains.”
This could mean that we will be seeing a whole lot more characters from the comic books appearing in the Amazing Spider-Man films, but it also sounds like there is an eye towards spinning said characters off into films of their own.
Sony might not have as easy a time as Fox and Disney has in expanding its brand. The Spider-Man universe has a number of interesting characters, but few would work well in solo films.
The two most obvious choices would be Venom and Black Cat. Both were adversaries that turned into allies and both are popular enough in the comics that they could draw comic fans into films starring them. However, a Venom film has been planned dating back to before he appeared in Spider-Man 3, and it has yet to appear. Odds are that he’ll have to be introduced in the new franchise first, so a Venom film appears a ways off. And Black Cat is a girl and studios are horrifically adverse to throwing action films up on the screen with female leads, no matter how well The Hunger Games does.
And while Spider-Man has one of the best rogues galleries in comics, films starring out and out villains are a hard sell. And from what we’ve seen so far, Rhys Ifans’ Lizard doesn’t seem to have what it takes to carry a film on his own. Maybe Jamie Foxx’s Electro will be presented in such a way that his character would be able to headline a film.
When it comes to allies that have appeared in Spider-Man books, the possibilities range from “it could work” (The female mercenary Silver Sable, the African-American thief turned hero Prowler) to the “Ah, hell no!” (the suped-up skateboard wielding Rocket Racer, the clumsily comedic Frog-Man).
There is also an issue of who owns the rights to consider. The Spider-Man books were some of the most popular comics marvel published, and a lot of characters appeared in its pages in an attempt to raise awareness and sales for their own books, many Sony does not have rights to. Some are obvious, like Iceman, Human Torch and Nightcrawler. Others of lesser renown, such as Moon Knight, Nova and Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, appeared in other mags first and are probably owned by Marvel.
Even some characters that first appeared in Spidey books are off-limits for Sony. The most famous is the Punisher, which was licensed individually and has had two films this name already. His rights recently reverted back to Marvel. Cloak and Dagger were one of the most interesting teams to get their start in the Spider books, but their rights are also owned by Marvel, who were pursuing a TV series for the characters. And the Kingpin was originally a Spider-Man villain, but later became more known as a Daredevil villain. Since he appeared in Daredevil, his rights are tied in with that characters, and is now back at Marvel as well.
If I could make a suggestion? If Sony wants to make a Spider-Man spin-off, may I suggest an adaptation of “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man” story.It is arguably my favorite Spider-Man story, would fit into the film’s continuity, and is a unique approach to the license. You don’t see other studios doing human interest films where the superhero is a supporting player. Just throwing that out there.