Spider-Man really is like a child of divorced parents, constantly being pulled back and forth between Disney and Sony. Last year the two came through for the fans with Spider-Man: No Way Home, which felt very much like a celebration of the character. However, not every Sony Spider-Man movie has been as good.
Now, for those not entirely familiar with the deal the two studios have, I won’t get into the financial details However, it is important to know that the deal not only gives Marvel permission to incorporate Spider-Man into its cinematic universe, but it also lends Sony the license to create films with characters from Spider-Man’s gallery. Films produced so far include Venom and Morbius. But this is just the beginning.
Now, it’s also worth mentioning that the deal allowed Sony to create one of the best animated films and Spider-Man films of all time, the Academy award-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. However nearly all of the studio’s live-action products independent of the MCU look and feel less spectacular. For example, the Venom films have a small fanbase but even then, I’m confident those fans wouldn’t describe either of the first two films those movies as completely good. Similarly Morbius was pretty much made into a joke when it came out, and that was before audiences had to sit through that confusing post-credit scene.
What’s most odd about Sony’s plans for its live-action Spider-Verse is the characters they choose to focus on. For some reason they’ve decided to mostly make movies involving classic villains, except in the movies they’re not villains. They’re anti-heroes. Venom and Morbius might be the first examples, but soon it’ll be Aaron Taylor Johnson’s Kraven the Hunter and then Bad Bunny’s El Muerto. The latter of which fans still are confused about considering the obscurity of the character. The only exception to the studio’s agenda is the upcoming Madame Web film.
Sony clearly loves the idea of its own Spider-Verse, but the way it’s decided to execute is messy. The Spider-Verse is a storyline which sees alternate versions of Spider-Man from all across the multiverse crossing paths. Between the moderate success of Into the Spider-Verse alone and the choice to reintroduce the live-action versions of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield into the MCU, it seems kind of obvious what Sony should continue doing to please fans and make more money.
Making movies about villains has never made sense to me because all it does it take away characters that Spider-Man could fight in future films. Why waste a perfectly good actor or character setup to make a variety of different, sub-par films? So what do I think would work instead? Show me a live-action Spider-Man Noir movie. Shoot it in black and white to give it a grittier feel. Or do a live action Spider-Man 2099 movie with a cool futuristic cyberpunk aesthetic.
A while back there were reports that Olivia Wilde had been tapped to direct a Spider-Woman movie. After all the Don’t Worry Darling controversy, it’s unclear if that movie is still in the cards at Sony. But back when it was announced, it made more sense for Sony to go in that direction than whatever direction it’s headed now. Did I mention that it makes literally no sense to make a film about El Muerto?
Now, it’s possible that the reason we haven’t gotten a live action film centered on Miles Morales yet is because Kevin Feige wants to be able to use that character in the future. But I can’t imagine that’s the case with any of the others. Another option Sony could look at would be providing proper conclusions to their previous series. And it seems easier to do now more than ever.
When No Way Home came out there were a lot of calls for Andrew Garfield to finally get to his Amazing Spider-Man 3 film made. Even though Tobey Maguire did get his trilogy made, the promise – and eventual cancelation – of a fourth film left fans hungry for one more story. And it honestly would’ve been nice to bring that original cast back together for one more time. With Sam Raimi coming back to superhero genre this year with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, once again it seems like it would be easier to give the fans what they want now more than ever.
It would also be cool to do a spin-off of Sam Raimi’s original trilogy adapted from the “Spider-Girl” comics. Have Maguire come back as an older Peter Parker married to MJ, and introduce their daughter Mayday to take over the mantle from her father! Who wouldn’t pay to see that?
I mean, what are the villain movies currently even building up to? At first the idea seemed to be a setup for the Sinister Six. Forget the fact that we’ve only see about two canonical villains from the comics appear in the films and that only one (Michael Keaton’s Vulture) has actually encountered Spider-Man. How could a Sinister Six story even work? More importantly, could they even be called the Sinister Six if all of these villains keep getting reformed in their solo films? Who or what could they ultimately go up against?
Now, cynicism aside, it’s possible that Kraven the Hunter, Madame Web and El Muerto all actually end up being great movies. Judging by Sony’s record so far, I’m not really confident that they will, but I’d love to be wrong. And if they’re not, I sincerely hope Sony goes back to the drawing board. Otherwise, they only web they’ll continue to be caught up in their web of failure.