Where Amazing Spider-Man 2 leaves Sony's superhero universe
What hints did Amazing Spider-Man 2 give us about the rest of Sony's planned Spider-Man franchise?
This article contains spoilers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
The end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 may have lacked the next-movie teaser Marvel Studios likes to pin onto their films, but that doesn't mean we haven't got any clue as to where the Spider-Man franchise is going. With Sony's stated goal of turning the property into its own universe of films, we got to thinking: what clues are there in Amazing Spider-Man 2 that might get followed up as the franchise expands?
Just so you don't get spoiled, we're going to put a big picture up here. After that, it's spoiler territory...
Still here? Right then...
Felicity Jones' all-too-brief appearances were a highlight of Amazing Spider-Man 2, and not least because anyone familiar with Spider-Man has some idea of where she's likely going. There are no accidents in a franchise movie like this (as producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach confirmed to us), so the fact that she's called "Felicia" strongly implies that Jones is being set up as Felicia Hardy, aka The Black Cat.
Imbued (usually) with bad luck powers that cause things to go in her favour to the detriment of those around her, the Black Cat is a thief-turned-sidekick who went on the straight and narrow (usually) after starting a romantic relationship with Spider-Man. Unlike most of Spidey's girlfriends, she was mostly in it for the adventuring, and much more interested in the Spider than the Man. She broke off their relationship when things got too serious, and has turned up as an occasional love-interest, antagonist and partner-in-crime (sometimes literally) ever since.
With Gwen out of the picture, it looked as though Sony was seeding Amazing Spider-Man 2 with future love interests - how else does one explain Mary Jane's cameo, cut though it was? The fact that Felicia remained in the film suggests that there's a strong chance Amazing Spider-Man 3 might use Hardy (in her Black Cat identity) as a love interest. And it would make sense: after Gwen's death, Peter won't want to endanger anyone else by getting close to them, but a girlfriend who can take care of herself in a fight? One who actively doesn't want to get too close? That, he might go for. And of course, once established, she could carry her own spin-off movie.
Admittedly, a film about a cat-themed super-thief would be difficult to sell to audiences, not least because there are three cinematic Catwomen still lingering in the public imagination. But given the proper springboard, it could work. Given that she's one of the few actual heroes tied into the Spider-Man franchise, we're a little surprised it hasn't been mentioned already, and it might be because they she's already locked for the Threequel.
The Sinister Six
We know a Sinister Six film is coming, thanks to Sony's oft-stated plans for a spin-off. But some big questions still need answering. Not least: who will it include?
Well, Amazing Spider-Man 2 already established Electro, and we saw that Oscorp has the equipment to make Doctor Octopus and The Vulture stashed away in their special projects department. That leaves three members of the original line-up who have yet to appear.
We'd be most surprised to see Mysterio, given that his gimmick is cinematic special effects (something that'd probably prove too campy for a modern superhero movie), so given his appearance at the end of Amazing Spider-Man 2, let's assume The Rhino will be in the mix instead.
That leaves just two slots, traditionally filled by Kraven and Sandman. Unfortunately, the Sandman would probably just remind audiences of Raimi's justifiably-maligned Spider-Man 3, so it's possible that Osborn or The Lizard would fill his role. Meanwhile, Kraven has an iconic storyline attached to the character ("Kraven's Last Hunt") so we wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to establish him as a new villain in the movie – because why make a spin-off if you're not going to establish a couple of new characters to pollinate the franchise?
There is one further possibility, though. At the end of the first movie, Curt Connors is visited by an Oscorp representative, credited as "the man in the shadows". The character re-appears at the end of Amazing Spider-Man 2, helping Harry Osborn put together Oscorp's Sinister Six. This time he's credited as "Mr. Fear", so it's possible he genuinely is the Marvel villain Mr. Fear. While he was originally a Daredevil villain the third Mr. Fear was primarily pitted against Spider-Man, so it's possible Sony does indeed have the rights. We're not so sure they'd choose a villain that little-known to headline their Sinister Six film, though.
So if we were going to put money on it, our Six would be Electro, Doc Ock, The Vulture, The Lizard, The Rhino and Kraven. That's all just speculation, of course – we're not even sure how you'd do a convincing film about Spider-Man's super-villains that doesn't by definition end in Spider-Man simply turning up in the final act and beating them all senseless – but hey, that's someone else's problem.
If you remember the 90s Spider-Man cartoon, you might have found Electro's bullying colleague at Oscorp somewhat familiar – and not just because he was played by The Office's B. J. Novak. That's because he was named as Alistair Smythe. In the comics and cartoon, Smythe is a scientist whose father, Spencer, created the original Spider-Slayers. Eventually he turned himself into the next-generation version making a formidable Spider-villain, if not a particularly iconic one.
Smythe's inclusion in Amazing Spider-Man 2 could simply be an instance of adding texture to the franchise by throwing in a name comics fans remember – but the fact that he was used multiple times and played by a name actor suggests that there are bigger plans for him. Oscorp always needs scientists, after all, and with the Spidey-hating Harry Osborn now top of the food chain at the company, it wouldn't be surprising to see Smythe's attention redirected away from bullying employees and more towards bullying a certain arachnid-themed superhero.
J. Jonah Jameson
Perhaps unwilling to recast the role following J.K. Simmons' note-perfect portrayal of New York's least popular newsman, the Amazing Spider-Man movies have stopped short of showing the character on screen. But if you watched Amazing Spider-Man 2, you can't fail to have noticed the email with his name on it. That suggests that their strategy might be to ease him back into the franchise gradually, building up the character before we see him.
If that were the case, we wouldn't be shocked to see him in Amazing Spider-Man 3. Or indeed, turning up in a spin-off first. In the comics, Jameson famously commissioned the original Spider-Slayer robot (that's another tick for Smythe's appearance) and further to that, justice for the Stacy family would be just the kind of campaign a newspaper editor would get behind following the Spider-Man-related deaths of both. Indeed, if Sony wants to avoid retreading old ground and use something from the comics, they could use his campaign against Spider-Man not as something to sell papers with, but as a platform to build Jameson's Mayoral campaign around.
It's not exactly a lock, given how eager the franchise has been to stay away from the Bugle thus far, but much of Spidey's classic supporting cast – Robbie Robertson, Betty Brant, Glory Grant, Ben Urich, not to mention villains like Ned Leeds, Phil Urich and Thomas Fireheart – are all centered on the paper. If Sony will consider a Sinister Six spin-off then a Daily Bugle spin-off, about a newsroom covering a world of superheroes and super-villains, would be well within the studio's remit, and would establish all sorts of characters who could be added to their growing universe.
As with the Sinister Six, we've already heard that Venom's on the cards for his own movie. But how do we get from Amazing Spider-Man 2 to that?
Well, while the original Venom (the inspiration for Raimi's version) was an alien symbiote, the version from Marvel's re-imagined "Ultimate" line was the result of Richard Parker's experiments. Amazing Spider-Man has featured Peter's parents heavily, so it wouldn't be a stretch to see Venom emerge from that narrative, rather than trying to shoe-horn an alien lifeform into the franchise again.
Of course, it'd be tough to do a Venom movie without heavily involving Peter Parker, but it'd also be difficult to bill Andrew Garfield with any prominence and not make it a Spider-Man film. A clean start makes sense, but even in his various solo series, Venom has most successfully been defined by his relationship to Spider-Man. Take that away and he's suddenly very generic. Unless he gets a soft launch in the third Amazing Spider-Man film, we're as confused as anyone as to how that'll work, although one hint – that Carnage will be the villain – does give a glimmer of insight into that process. Because if you can't define Venom in relation to his "good" reflection, why not do it in relation to his evil reflection?
Still, we can only wait and see. Sony does seem serious about turning their one license into a universe to rival Marvel Studios, and in the end that can only be a good thing for superhero fans. Let the pleading start now: A Hypno Hustler movie in 2017.
Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.