EDITORIAL: Building The Sony Cinematic Universe Around SPIDER-MAN

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Mar 22, 2013, 9:03:24 PM3/22/13

The Avengers proved that the formula works and in the aftermath, key
figures at Sony, Fox and Warner Bros. have talked about building their
own shared universe for their superhero franchises. Fox and WB have
obvious options but what about Sony and Spider-Man?

Mark Julian - 3/22/2013

In the wake of Marvel's The Avengers $1B+ box office gross, all of
Hollywood's major film studio's are reassessing their strategy towards
their respective superhero characters. Through the X-Men, Justice
League and Spider-Man - Fox, Warner Bros. and Sony are actively
developing secretive plans for their own shared cinematic universes.
At first glance, Warner Bros. would appear to be the biggest rival to
Marvel as they have an impressively large stable of characters to
chose from however, you shouldn't overlook Sony as they could become a
serious competitor with a cinematic universe primarily built around
the Wall-crawler and to a lesser extent, Ghost Rider.

Earth's Mightiest Spider-Friends

If you think the banter between a wisecracking Tony Stark and a
straight-laced Steve Rogers is hilarious, imagine the laughs to be had
in a similar combination of Spider-Man and Ghost Rider. Of course,
Sony would need to reboot Ghost Rider so that he's a closer
interpretation of the source material - a no nonsense, objective
driven badass that dishes out major punishment, not someone that
pisses fire and has a weird cackle. But the Brimstone Biker is
definitely no Captain America, he'd be a closer parallel to Thor as an
outsider who has the responsibility of protecting humanity from planet-
level threats. For the femme fatale of the group, Silver Sable, who
first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #265 (1985) is a pretty close
approximation to Black Widow. Both are tough, extremely skilled hand-
to-hand fighters that more than hold their own in a world filled with
super powered beings. Relying only on extensive training and a gadget
or two, bother fighters usually leave their opponents the worse for
wear. Sable even has a close approximation to S.H.I.E.L.D. in her Wild
Pack and larger Silver Sable International team. Her mercenary outfit
is often charged with protecting key objects and people which is a
concept that readily lends itself to a wide-range of superhero
typologies. Going down this route would also allow her to one-up her
Avengers counterpart as the cross film entity who eventually brings
our diverse collection of heroes together. Chtylok, a 25-foot tall
half-cow, half-chicken monster is an 'interesting' character who's
origins are tied to Spider-Man. He may look a bit ridiculous but he
has strength on par with the Hulk and comes with the added bonus of
flight. Appearing in only one Spider-Man arc, the character is ripe
for reinterpretation - a more menacing design, maybe a human alter-ego
and you easily have your unstoppable powerhouse. For comparison's
sake, we need a Hawkeye for the group. Clint Barton had little
character development and was more of a sacrificial plot device who
had some cool scenes in the final battle. Sony could pretty much
insert any hero to fill his place but Hobbie Brown aka The Prowler
would be ideal for the final spot as he too is a longstanding Marvel
superhero that rarely gets his due.

Spider-Man: Source Code

Sure, plenty of superheroes have alternate versions of themselves but
Spider-Man's offshoots are probably the most recognizable to comic
book fans. From clones to alternate timelines and even parallel
dimensions, over the years Marvel has created a Spider-Man for
everyone to love. You want a minority Spider-Man? Check. You want a
Spider-Man from a distant future? Check. How about a dark and gritty
Spider-Man that also eats brains? Check and check! Of course, you need
an entity to bring all these different iterations of the webslinger
together and that role fits Madame Web perfectly. Admittedly, a
similar concept played out in the 90's animated cartoon and in the
video game Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions but there's no reason a
live-action adaptation couldn't take its ques from both which saw Web
reimagined as more of a cosmic deity. Such a blueprint also opens the
door for a return of the Sami Raimi franchise. Imagine Andrew Garfield
and Tobey Maguire suiting up together and leading a team comprised of
Miles Morales, Ben Reilly, Miguel O'Hara and Eddie Brock (or maybe a
Dane DeHaan Harry Osborn) - that's box office gold!

Avenging Spider-Man Or....Marvel Team-Up

The above ideas are (excuse the pun) pretty sensational but then
again, sensational worked pretty well last summer for Joss Whedon.
However, if Sony wanted to play it safe, they could opt to stick
closer to the more prevalent aspects of the Spider-Man mythos and
develop spinoffs for Venom and Black Cat, two fan favorite characters
that would have immediate buzz amongst fans. That would mean a smaller
cast of heroes sure but also a smaller chance of confusing the larger
portion of the movie audience that doesn't read comic books. Plans are
already in place for a Venom movie with director Josh Trank and
there's also unconfirmed rumors swirling around Felicity Jones' role
in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Theoretically, with just three
characters, each would be more fully developed before they all
'assemble' in a team-up film. And with the shades of gray in Venom's
character, you might not necessarily need to sacrifice screentime for
the introduction of a villain as an out of control symbiote would be
plenty for the Spider and the Cat to tackle.

The Sinister Six..Seven...And Twelve

Every hero has a chief adversary. Captain America has Red Skull, Iron
Man has The Mandarin and Thor has Loki. But when you start moving down
their rogues list, it's not long before you arrive at the likes of
Porcupine, Melter and 4-D Man. Not so with Spider-Man; if Batman has
the best and deepest rogues gallery in DC Comics then Spidey
definitely holds that title for Marvel. While the likes of Carnage,
Green Goblin and Kingpin (yes, Sony has the rights!) are enough to
give Spider-Man fits on their own, together they cause considerable
mayhem, especially when it's to form one of the many iterations of The
Sinister Six. Based on the latest tease from director Marc Webb, The
Amazing Spider-Man 2 might already be heading in that direction with
the introduction of the super criminal asylum, The Ravencroft
Institute. Typically, Spider-Man manages to eek out a win against this
villainous group on his own but there's really no reason to limit the
number of roster spots at six. When this has occurred in the pages of
Marvel Comics, Spidey has often had to call for backup, which would
create a need for Venom and Black Cat. It's true that Spider-Man has
some interesting and colorful villains but none are really at the
threat-level of a Thanos. That's where Ghost Rider can show his
importance to the Sony execs; Mephisto and Blackheart were woefully
underdeveloped in the first Ghost Rider film. They are two of the
biggest baddies in Marvel Comics and represent a threat that would
overwhelm anything Spider-Man could throw at them. Such villains would
be ideal for either the Multiple Spider-Men or Avengers-esque blue-
prints mentioned above. And let us not forget that the Wallcrawler has
had his own dealings with Mephisto in the past; maybe instead of
undoing a marriage perhaps he wishes for a certain neck to be



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