Sony’s Plans For Multiple Spider-Man Spin-Offs Is A Missed Opportunity

Sony’s recent partnership with Marvel Studios, which brought Spider-Man into the MCU, is the smartest play they’ve made in decades. This alliance opens up countless narrative possibilities for everyone involved. Spidey’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War significantly changed the tone and energy of that film, in the same way that Iron Man will dynamically alter the storytelling in Spider-Man: Homecoming. One of the great things about Marvel comics is that Spider-Man regularly pops up all over the place — the character easily fits into any team, cosmic, and street-level situation, or storyline. Marvel’s long-running “Team-Up” comic book series regularly featured Spider-Man (since its inception in 1972).

Marvel Studios clearly gets the power of the team-up. Combining characters from opposite ends of the spectrum creates new opportunities for conflict, humor, and character growth, while also keeping audiences on their toes. The upcoming Thor: Ragnarok is essentially a live-action “Team-Up” comic, co-starring: The Incredible Hulk. According to THR, Sony’s original Spider-Man licensing deal — from 1999 — gave them access to 900 characters from his long comic book history, but it’s becoming clear that Sony still has no idea how to handle these characters.

Sony’s recent announcements of stand-alone films for Venom/Carnage, starring Tom Hardy, and Black Cat/Silver Sable, currently titled Silver & Black, were met with a collective shrug from the fan community. Who’s screaming for these films? Now we’re learning that Sony is also planning films based on villains Kraven the Hunter and Mysterio — possibly to build toward an ensemble Sinister Six movie, Sony’s answer to DC’s Suicide Squad. More shrugs?

Look, somebody at Marvel needs to put their arm around the key decision-makers at Sony and tell them to stop it. We don’t need Black Cat, Venom, or Kraven stand-alone films any more than we need Loki, Hawkeye, or Thanos spin-offs. These are all cool characters, but let’s be honest: some characters can’t (or shouldn’t) hold their own films — Marvel learned this lesson the hard way with The Incredible Hulk (2008).

The March 1972 debut of Marvel’s Team-Up comic book series.

We’re living in a world where a new superhero movie hits theaters every other month (sometimes multiple times in the same month). In 2018 we get Black Panther, Deadpool 2, Avengers: Infinity War, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Aquaman, Ant-Man and the Wasp, The New Mutants, and Venom. I love, love, love these characters, but there’s no way I’m seeing all of these films in theaters in 2018. Are you?

According to Variety, the average movie fan only goes to the theater three times per year — given the aforementioned 2018 line-up, does anyone plan to put Venom in their top three next year? These Venom and Silver & Black movies are likely to be epic flops, which is insane when such failures could be easily avoided. The answer is staring them right in the face!

Even if Spider-Man appears in each of these new spin-offs, as has been reported, and if they’re somehow connected to the MCU it probably won’t save themat the box office. Sony is missing the point, they’re squandering the obvious opportunity. Spider-Man should either be the lead, or co-lead, in each of these films; embrace the “team-up” concept, and give us Spider-Man/Venom, Spider-Man/Hulk, or (gasp!) Spider-Man/Daredevil. Any of these films would suddenly jump into my top three films of next (or any) year.

Sony should adopt a strategy of a stand-alone Spider-Man movie one year, and a Spider-Man Team-Up movie the following year — alternating years of stand-alone and team-up for decades, and who would complain?  

Are you feeling stand-alone, spin-off movies starring Venom, Black Cat, Kraven, or Mysterio or do you think Sony should dive head-first into Spider-Man team-ups? Let us know in the comments down below!

Spider-Man: Homecoming hits theaters on July 7, 2017.

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David Kozlowski

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.

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