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Examining Sony’s “Spider-Verse”

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Movie universes are all the rage lately and it looks like Sony is going to get in on the action, albeit by siphoning some success from the original trend starter the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unless you’ve been living under a rock or just hate superhero and comic films in general there’s no doubt you’ve heard about Sony’s proposed “Spider-Verse” (which is also the name of a Spider-Man story arc in the comics). I’m here to fill you in on what Sony plans for the future of the wall crawler with his new MCU film set to hit theaters in a couple weeks.

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Those unfamiliar with the film history of Spider-Man, the original Sam Raimi directed trilogy helped spur the continuing popularity of superhero films in the late 90s and early 2000s. The first “Spider-Man” along with “X-Men” began the onslaught of superhero-themed stories that have become so popular only once since the year 2000 has there been a year without a single theatrical superhero release. After two successful films, including a second film many consider one of the greatest superhero and sequel films of all time, the series was sidelined by a third entry that divided fans and, in the opinion of many, crucified the popular villain Venom. After an attempted reboot, which spawned two films to mixed reaction, Sony made a deal with Marvel, allowing Spider-Man to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He joined the cast with Tom Holland behind the mask in Marvel’s 2016 hit “Captain America: Civil War” with Marvel and Sony sharing rights to the popular web slinger.

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The first MCU solo film for Spider-Man, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, is set to be released 4th of July weekend and just as audiences began gearing up for the long-awaited cinematic treat Sony dropped a bomb on the comic book movie world announcing that they would apparently take advantage of their ownership of numerous Spider-Man related properties to create their own “Spider-Verse”, a film universe seemingly led by Spider-Man’s most famous foe, Venom, rather than the actual wall crawler. Since then speculation of what this approach will mean for Spider-Man and his rogues gallery has only grown, leading to some mixed opinion but also some interesting revelations.

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In the past few weeks The Hollywood Reporter helped break stories from Tom Rothman, the big boss at Sony, who has seemingly confirmed that their own Marvel-themed universe will take place in the same universe as “Homecoming”, meaning it will be an extension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now to some extent, as of this writing, this is all speculation, but it’s an interesting thought. Sony has also announced two films that will kick off the offshoot “Spider-Verse”, a Venom solo film with the oh-so-talented Tom Hardy as Eddy Brock (Venom’s human alter-ego), and a film centering on Silver Sable and Black Cat, the later of which was a love interest of Spider-Man in the comics, which spawned rumors and thoughts that a more female-centric Spider-Verse may be in the making. It appears Sony is going to take full advantage of its collection of villains and allies that Spider-Man is known to frequently encounter and use those as the basis of their own cinematic series.

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Just today I read a new report on MovieWeb, which was broken by The Hollywood Reporter, that two more Spider-Man characters could get their own spinoff films as well, Kraven the Hunter (who many initially thought would be the villain in “Homecoming”) and Mysterio. Both are among the most iconic of Spider-Man’s opponents and a focus on numerous villain-based solo films could play into another concept Sony already tried to implement, a villain team up film possibly loosly inspired by the Sinister Six. It wouldn’t be the first time a studio has done such a film as the DC Extended Universe released “Suicide Squad” last year. When Sony had previous tried to reboot the series with “The Amazing Spiderman” there were plans to have a “Sinister Six” film take place. It was even hinted at in the closing of the second film in the failed reboot. A Venom-themed movie was also in play at that time so this is not the first time Spider-Man’s most iconic foe has had potential for a solo outing either. Add in Kraven having been rumored as the “Homecoming” villain before the Vulture was named the bad guy and Mysterio having been the plan for Sam Raimi for a fourth film in his series and you have a trio of bad guys Sony had apparently been interested in including on the big screen for some time.

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Another possible avenue is a Venom hero story instead of a Spider-Man driven universe. In the comics Venom is often seen as an anti-hero when he’s not the villain, meaning there is potential for a Deadpool-like approach to this series, applying a hero who isn’t really a good guy or a bad guy. Kevin Feige, who heads the MCU, has mentioned there could be a future for R-rated films in the MCU, so what better way to include such projects then to hand that responsibility over to Sony? The “Spider-Verse” could be a much darker entry in the MCU continuity. Venom has many of the same powers as Spider-Man and could play a role in battling many of Spidey’s villains while Peter Parker himself is away doing some Avenging in the more family friendly MCU. There’s also a very enticing rumor that Venom’s spawn Carnage could be in the picture as a foil to Venom himself, which would be perfect for a darker R-rated project seeing as Carnage in name alone is not a very family-friendly character. Tom Hardy is just the right guy to carry a much darker approach as Venom so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch and it’s an approach some fans have assumed the “Spider-Verse” would take, presenting a more adult-oriented story with Spider-Man himself out of the picture. It also wouldn’t be unheard of for something connected to the MCU to take it’s own road. The universe contains the “Agents of Shield” television series and Netflix series incorporating Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and the Iron Fist, all of which are more adult-friendly than the cinematic universe and the heroes are all coming together to team up and become the Defenders in August. Rarely do any of these shows feature more than a quick cameo or off-hand mention to the larger MCU. Having an offshoot big-screen series that tells its own story without Avenger involvement probably is not that big of a stretch.

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The other possibility heavily discussed, and that I mentioned previously, is a female led “Spider-Verse” with characters like Black Cat, Spider-Woman, Stunner, Jackpot, and Dusk being brought in by Silver Sable to fight crime as a team of female heroes. Venom would be a powerful enough foil for these female character to battle and, considering the other villain-centric projects being discussed, a Sinister Six film taking on a team of female heroes could be another perfect approach for Sony to take.

Sony has potential with its plans for the Spider-Verse, but there’s still a lot of development taking place. There’s a lot to get excited about and as more updates come in it will be interesting to see just what direction Sony decides to take. What are your thoughts on Sony’s new Spider-Verse? Let me know in the comments below and tell me what you’re hopes are for this proposed MCU offshoot.

 

 

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