Earlier this week, it was revealed that Jared Leto would star in a film about Morbius the Living Vampire, the sometimes villain, sometimes anti-hero character from the Spider-Man comics. The film is set to be directed by Daniel Espinosa, who most recently worked on Life. The news came just days after it was revealed that Sony was also considering going ahead with a Silk spinoff, another character from the Spider-Man roster and who actually has already appeared in the MCU with Spider-Man: Homecoming in a way. With Venom on the horizon and word of a potential Silver Sable and Black Cat film in the works, one has to wonder if all these Spider-Man related films can work in a universe without Spider-Man?
Ever since Tobey Maguire was shooting webs out of his wrists, Spider-Man has had his home at Sony. That was a different time when the studio was focusing on one movie at a time and one franchise at once without even considering spinoffs. Flash forward to the Andrew Garfield era and you can tell that Sony’s priorities have shifted, especially with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The film – and thus the studio – seemed more interested in setting up multiple sequels and the Sinister 6 spinoff film that it told a largely uneven and uneventful film. Now Sony seems to be back to their old tricks by making numerous films in advance, only this time Sony will have to do it without their star player.
In case you weren’t privy to this information, Tom Holland’s portrayal of Spider-Man, who was last seen in Avengers: Infinity War, is actually part of the MCU but his solo films are co-produced by Sony. That’s why the Sony logo was present before Spider-Man: Homecoming. The company essentially lent Disney/Marvel the character in return for part of the profits, producing credit and creative input but Marvel didn’t get any of the other Spider-Man characters in that deal.
Therefore, Sony is faced with a difficult dilemma. Can they make a Spider-Man cinematic universe, the so-called “Spider-Verse” work on the big screen without the charm and audience appeal of Spider-Man himself? Mainstream audiences are quite familiar with the web-slinger, as he’s had six solo films since 2003 and has appeared in Captain America: Civil War and the previously mentioned Avengers film, which recently passed $2 billion at the global box office. On the other hand, not too many people will know who Morbius is. He’s an actual vampire who was initially written as a villain in the comics but after a while, the writers turned Dr. Michael Morbius into an anti-hero.
Likewise, Venom is probably the second best-known character in the “Rogues Gallery” and a lot of these spinoffs will likely sink or swim on the success of that film. On a personal note, while I love Tom Hardy as an actor and Venom is a great character, the trailers thus far have failed to excite me for the movie. It just looks, okay and I’m less likely to see a movie that’s just “okay”. If I’m not alone in this and a quick Google search seems to indicate that a lot of outlets share a similar thought – then Venom may be in a bit of trouble when it releases in October. Another film, rumoured to be titled Silver and Black was set for February 2019 but was recently pulled from the schedule. Since the film wasn’t outright cancelled, I’m going to assume it’s just delayed or the studio is waiting for reactions to Venom before proceeding.
A new Spider-Man film is set to release in 2018 in fact though and it’s an awesome looking animated feature with Miles Morales instead of Peter Parker as the lead. Parker still shows up in the film, but the narrative takes place in a completely different universe from the live action films (comic book readers will understand this). And while I’m extremely excited for this, I have a feeling this movie has captured the interest of the comic and animation crowd more than the general audience, who may not even know who Miles Morales is.
All in all, Sony has an uphill battle with these Spider-Verse films. It’d be like making a series of Batman related films without once getting a Batman film or cameo. It seems like a hard sell and one has to wonder if Sony should focus on other characters rather than pumping outside characters from the Spider-Man comics in order to keep up with current market trends. Will audiences care about a collective Spider-Man cinematic universe without any Spider-Man? What would be the point of making so many films without him? I can see a lot of these movies working if Peter Parker could swing in to aid or fight against some of these characters, but for now, in theory, it feels like there’s already something of a void.
What do you think though? Are you excited for all these Spider-Verse films? Does Sony have the right idea or should they quit while they’re ahead? Let us know in the comments and check out our work on where Avengers 4 can go and our up to date Westworld timeline!