Spider-Man: 25 characters his movie universe could tackle
Sony is planning a Spider-Man movie universe! Who could feature in that? We had a think...
Sony is making some very interesting choices with its Spider-Man licence of late. For instance, fans around the globe rejoiced when the studio made an unprecedented deal, agreeing to share custody of Peter Parker with Marvel Studios and allow ol’ web-head (rebooted again and recast as Tom Holland) to show up in Captain America: Civil War.
The party line at the moment seems to suggest that Mr Holland’s Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Spidey is slated to appear in two solo movies (Spider-Man: Homecoming and its sequel) as well as two further crossover movies (Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel). That, as far as we can tell, is the extent of Marvel and Sony’s initial deal. That’s not to say it couldn’t be renewed or altered at some stage, and given that Tom Holland has hinted at a solo trilogy, it probably will.
Meanwhile, Sony continues to develop other projects, outside of the MCU, which still have links to Spider-Man. An animated movie about Miles Morales (the ‘Ultimate Universe’ version of Spidey, in the comics) is definitely happening, as well as two confirmed live-action spin-offs: one about Venom, and one that focuses on Black Cat and Silver Sable.
The idea that Tom Holland’s Peter Parker dwells within the MCU, but Venom and a Black Cat exist outside of it, is an exciting prospect for comic book fans. After all, within the pages of Marvel Comics, the existence of a ‘Spider-Verse’ – a sprawling Multiverse stuffed with parallel worlds, alternate versions of Spidey and drastic retoolings of his enemies – has long been part of the canon.
Maybe Sony is attempting to pull off something similar in the movie world. Perhaps some kind of huge interconnected Spider-Verse is what they’re aiming to create. If that’s the case, here are some characters we’d like to see…
Madame Web is a clairvoyant woman of advanced years who has strong ties to ‘The Web Of Life And Destiny’ (also known as The Web Of Reality and The Great Web). Through this five-dimensional force, Madame Web witnesses the manifold parallel realities at play, and gets a sense of when danger is afoot or destinies need fulfilling.
If Sony wants to launch its own live-action Spider-Man Multiverse, Madame Web could be the Nick Fury equivalent to connect it all up. She’s often used in videogames as a quick way to move spider-heroes from one universe to another and explain the mission at hand. A similar thing could work in the film world, and help to keep viewers up to speed.
Venom (Eddie Brock)
Scott Rosenberg (High Fidelity, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle) and Jeff Pinkner (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Dark Tower) are already hard at work on a Venom screenplay, with a 2018 release being Sony’s goal. Marvel Studios overlord Kevin Feige is not involved, and the movie is believed to be an R-rated flick unrelated to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tom Hardy will star, and Zombieland‘s Ruben Fleischer will direct.
We assume that the film will focus on the Eddie Brock version of Venom, a photographer that became a supervillain (thanks to an alien symbiote with a hatred for Spidey), who previously featured in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3.
Since this movie takes place outside of the MCU, where the only live-action Peter Parker we currently know about resides, it remains to be seen what the focus of this movie will be.
Could it be a monster movie, where some frightened cops are hunting down a murderous Venom? Or maybe it’s an antihero flick where Brock reluctantly does good deeds. Or perhaps it’s a more generic superhero film than that, and Sony will find a way to get Spidey into this non-MCU environment (via Madame Web, perhaps?) to take down Venom. We’ll have to wait and see…
The other characters Sony has plans for are Black Cat and Silver Sable, who will unite in Silver And Black, for director Gina Prince-Bythewood. Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy wrote a script draft, for a film that would bring those two characters together, and then Chris Yost of Thor: Ragnarok took over, building on Joy’s ideas. Again, Sony wants this film to reach cinemas in 2018.
You probably already know that Black Cat is Felicia Hardy, a cat burglar/supervillain/antihero/socialite/love interest for Spidey. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 cast Felicity Jones in the role of Felicia, presumably seeding the idea that she could become Black Cat in a later film.
Since The Amazing Spider-Man universe has now been binned, it’s likely that the role will be recast. But, to be honest, they’d struggle to snare a star bigger than Felicity Jones, so maybe Sony will try to keep her on somehow.
The other half of this female-centric movie is Silver Sable, a mercenary who flits between villain and antihero depending on the comic you’re reading. Her real name is Silver Sablinova (yes, really), and, as well as being a killer for hire, she’s also a monarch.
In the comics, Silver Sable is the queen of Symkaria, a fictional eastern European country with an intelligence organisation named the Wild Pack. The Wild Pack is essentially a squadron of antiheroes that go around capturing international criminals.
It remains to be seen if the Black Cat/Silver Sable movie will retain this royal element (Black Cat robs the Symkarian Royal Palace and Silver Sable strives for vengeance?) or keep things more grounded (Silver Sable is a mercenary hired to take down Black Cat?). Time will tell.
Shameik Moore (The Get Down) will voice Miles Morales in the currently untitled animated Spider-Man movie that’s due in cinemas December 2018. Alex Hirsch, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Rodney Rothman have all contributed to the script, and Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey are directing.
It would be very cool if this animated film was secretly Sony’s way of seeding Miles Morales into the public consciousness, upping his name recognition in advance of introducing him in a live-action form later on.
If you’re unfamiliar, Miles Morales is a black Hispanic teen that took over the mantle of Spider-Man in the ‘Ultimate Universe’ (a parallel world where Peter Parker was killed by the Green Goblin). Miles’ father and uncle were career criminals, giving Miles a different perception of the crime he fights.
If Sony does want to make Spider-Man movies inside and outside of the MCU, building a franchise around Miles’ separate universe is one tantalising option.
Agent Venom (Flash Thompson)
Later on in the comics, the Venom symbiote ended up in the hands of the government. They opted to give it to Flash Thompson, Peter Parker’s former high school bully, who had since grown up, become a soldier, and lost both of his legs in Iraq.
Bonding with the symbiote allowed Flash to walk again, and the government developed a system that allowed them to merge together without the darkness rubbing off on Flash.
If the first Venom is about Eddie Brock, perhaps it could end with the government capturing the symbiote, teeing up a sequel where Flash Thompson becomes Agent Venom and picks up some black ops missions. That could be a lot of fun.
In another alternate universe, Gwen Stacey was the one the bitten by a radioactive spider. She became Spider-Woman and fought crime, having to evade capture from her police chief dad on numerous occasions. In this world, Peter Parker attempted to give himself superpowers to get revenge on bullies, but accidentally turned himself into The Lizard (and ultimately died) in the process.
Spider-Gwen’s universe comes with a cool, grungy aesthetic. Her costume has a hoodie-ish look to it, and Gwen plays in a band when she’s not pounding on bad guys. If Sony really wants to branch out into other universes, this is one I’d really like them to visit. (Dove Cameron, who already voices the character on TV, would be my casting pick.)
If Sony does go down the route of introducing parallel worlds and alternate spider-heroes, there’s one villain that seems like the obvious choice to face them all in a massive crossover: Morlun, The Devourer Of Totems.
In a 2014 comic book arc dubbed Spider-Verse, Morlun and his family (The Inheritors) attempted to hunt down and kill the ‘Spider Totem’ from each different universe, travelling around using The Web Of Life And Destiny and murdering every Spider-Man-Or-Woman they could find.
Naturally, Spidey Prime and some of his best Spider-buds teamed up and defeated them. It was a lot fun. This feels like it could be the Avengers-sized payoff movie, if Sony does manage to launch alternate universes and multiple Spider-Men over the next few years.
In the comics, when Eddie Brock was locked up for his crimes committed as Venom, he wound up sharing a cell with a crazed serial killer named Cletus Kasady. The symbiote sought out Brock and busted him out of prison, and just so happened to leave its newborn offspring – another symbiote – behind in the cell.
Kasady bonded with the new symbiote and became Carange, one of Spider-Man’s most unhinged and bloodshed-inducing adversaries. At one point, the only way to stop him was a lobotomy. Yeah, Carnage stories can get pretty dark.
If Sony does manage to get its Venom movie made at long last, it’ll only be a matter of time before Carnage follows. If they wanted to follow the comics directly, they could plonk Brock in prison at the end of the first movie and have him meet Kasady there, teeing up a sequel.
Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew)
Jessica Drew gained her powers when her father experimented on her to try and cure some Uranium poisoning. However, her abilities aren’t the same as Peter Parker’s. Although she does have super strength, enhanced reflexes and the ability to stick to walls, she also has the power to emit ‘Venom Blasts’ from her hands. These are essentially electrical charges, which she can muster because of a bioelectrical side effect from the aforementioned experiments. She also received training from Hydra and spent decades in stasis.
Admittedly, that backstory isn’t the snappiest, but Jessica Drew’s Spider-Woman has become a very interesting character over the years. A recent comics series saw her set up shop in San Francisco as a private investigator. A humorous and stylish story unfolded from there, which could make for a fun spinoff film.
The Superior Spider-Man (Otto Octavius)
Superior Spider-Man was a series that ran for over a year and really captured fans’ imaginations. The concept at its core was brilliant: what if, as his final evil scheme before dying, Otto Octavius managed to orchestrate a mind swap between him and Spider-Man?
In sending Spidey to die in Otto’s sick body, Doc Ock thought he’d won the ultimate supervillain victory. But the reality proved to be a bit more complicated, with Peter Parker’s memories hanging on in there and convincing Otto to give being Spider-Man a real try.
Otto vowed to be a superior Spider-Man, and ended up – against all odds – being a central driving force in the massive Spider-Verse battle against Morlun and The Inheritors. It’s hard to imagine Sony asking Tom Holland to do a whole film as Doc-Ock-inside-Spidey’s-body, but if the studio could fit The Superior Spider-Man into its plans somewhere, this fan would be very happy.
The Sinister Six
Drew Goddard worked on his Sinister Six script for a good long while, even stepping away from the Daredevil series to spend more time on it. It was described as a tale of redemption, with a team of villains serving as protagonists rather than antagonists. Spidey was rumoured for some sort of role, but he wouldn’t have been the main focus.
In an interview with IGN, Goddard teased that “It could still happen”, although “It’s certainly not going to happen soon.” He wouldn’t be drawn on which villains would make up the team, though, or what their goal would be.
Perhaps, if Sony does manage to establish the idea of Spider-Verse movies where Peter Parker isn’t the main focus, Goddard’s script could finally see the light of day. The success level of Venom could well be a deciding factor.
Pavitr Prabhakar was the focus of a 2005 run entitled Spider-Man: India, which took the entire mythos of Spidey and, well, moved it to India. The result was a story that had a lot of interesting ideas, such as Doc Ock being a demon instead of a generic evil scientist and Venom heralding a mystical amulet instead of space.
That initial run was short-lived, but Pavitr Prabhakar showed up years later, being recruited to fight in the Spider-Verse conflict. If the Spider-Man movie universe is going to grow to incorporate other realities, some more exploration of Pavitr’s journey would be very welcome.
Another way to bring in multiple Spideys and open up a few more storytelling doors would be through introducing cloning.
Miles Warren, aka The Jackal, is the Spider-Man comic book villain with the most experience in this field. He’s a biology professor who was infatuated with Gwen Stacey.
The Jackal tried to clone Gwen after her death, kicking off the notorious Clone Saga, a 1970s comic book event that dragged on for ages and became highly convoluted. But with a tight movie script, The Jackal and his twisted schemes could provide a properly tough task for Spidey to overcome.
Scarlet Spider (Kaine Parker)
Over the years, The Jackal has made multiple clones of Peter Parker as part of various evil plans. The one with the most cinematic potential has to be Kaine Parker, who began life as a deformed and mentally unstable copy of Spider-Man. He was thrown out by The Jackal when he began degenerating, and became a supervillain in his own right.
His abilities include some differences to Peter’s, such as the power to glimpse the future (essentially an enhanced Spider-Sense), a deadly ‘Touch Of Kaine’, and two retractable stingers.
In more recent comics, Kaine has become an antihero rather than a villain, fighting alongside the original Spidey at points as well as branching out on his own. This could be an interesting area for Sony to explore.
If Sony’s Spider-Man output is going to grow to take in other heroes and antiheroes, the logical end game (a la Thanos in the MCU) is introducing a massive baddie that everyone else will need to team up and fight. I’ve already cited Morlun as an option, and another would be Mephisto.
Mephisto is an extra-dimensional demon that rules a fiery pocket dimension not unlike hell. He’s often thought of as a devil-like figure, and with a combination of immortality, mastery of magic and reality-warping powers, he’s a damn hard villain to overcome.
I mention Mephisto here because of his involvement in the controversial Spidey story One More Day. Therein, Peter made a deal with Mephisto, wiping his marriage to Mary Jane Watson from existence in exchange for keeping Aunt May alive.
A similarly tough choice, perhaps at the end of a massive crossover, could make for a highly emotional movie scene.
Miguel O’Hara is an engineer that lives in a dark future controlled by corporations. He works for an evil company called Alchemax, whose experimentation led to him gaining the same powers as Spider-Man.
From these humble origins, Miguel began fighting crime and covertly investigating the nefarious schemes of his own employers. It was a total reimagining of the Spidey mythos, against a sleek Blade Runner-esque backdrop. It could make for a great live-action film franchise (or at least a big budget animated movie, like the Miles Morales one).
Another time-shifted reimagining of Spider-Man is the Noir series. Therein, Peter Parker was an investigative journalist that grew up during the great depression. His uncle Ben was killed by a crime lord known as The Goblin, who has New York in an iron grip.
What follows is a retooling of the familiar, with less superpowers than the main Marvel universe and a glossy film noir style. Felicia Hardy is a club owner. The Chameleon is a master of disguise. The Vulture is a sideshow freak.
Again, I’d love to see this world explored on the big screen. If Sony can sell the idea of alternate Spider-Men to the general public, they could start churning out way more movies.
Even though ‘gritty’ is the norm these days, and Mysterio is anything but that, I still think ol’ goldfish bowl deserves to star in a major movie. Not everything has to be dark and dangerous, does it? A light and silly palette cleanser is needed once in a while.
Mysterio’s secret identity is Quentin Beck, a special-effects wizard who used to work in the movies. He uses trickery, illusions and a silly costume to commit crimes and be a major pain in the arse for Spidey.
He’s a bigger threat when teaming with other villains, so perhaps an appearance in Sinister Six would work best. But still, part of me would love to see Mysterio as the mischievous menace at the heart of his own film.
Another villain I’d love to see slotted into Sony’s plans is Morbius, The Living Vampire. Michael Morbius, a biochemist, attempted to cure himself of a blood disease by experimenting on vampire bats. Obviously, that didn’t work out exactly as he’d planned and Morbius became a vampire.
Morbius stories have permeated comics, animated TV series and videogames already, veering from cheesy to tragic depending on the writer. Movies are the last medium left him to infect.
In the right hands, a Morbius story could blend iconic vampire visuals with Marvel movie humour and touch of pathos. It could be a really fresh blend, if anyone ever wanted to make it
Not that long ago, a very simple setup was used to introduce Cindy Moon as the spider-heroine Silk: what if the radioactive spider bit someone else after nibbling on Peter? Cindy’s journey differed a lot from Peter’s, though. After gaining her powers (which include biological web-shooters), she was locked up by a scientist.
Peter found out about Cindy years later, freeing her from captivity shortly before Morlun and The Inheritors came looking for ‘Spider-Totems’ to kill (in the aforementioned Spider-Verse arc, which I really do think could make a brilliant crossover movie endgame for Sony).
Peter and Cindy quickly developed a romantic relationship, with their shared spider-DNA sending their hormones into overdrive. Eventually they stopped snogging and worked with every other spider-hero in existence to fend off The Inheritors.
Having spent a huge chunk of her life locked away, Cindy struggles to readjust to life. Sony will have to wait a while to introduce her to the movies, then, in order for that to make sense in the filmic timeline.
A bit like Mysterio and Morbius, Mister Negative is just a cool villain I’d really like to see on screen, whether Sony fit him into a mainline Tom Holland movie, a spinoff about someone else, or some sort of crossover.
Mister Negative began his story as a career criminal in China, before illegally sneaking into the USA and getting caught up in some drug-based experiments. Through these he gained control over the ‘Darkforce’ and the ‘Lightforce’, which gift him super strength, healing abilities and a ‘corrupting touch’ (as in, he can make people do his evil bidding against their will).
Mister Negative quickly built a criminal empire big enough to make the Kingpin blush, all the while using philanthropic activities as a cover-up. He’s clashed with Spider-Man multiple times, notably corrupting Aunt May in one story.
There’s a chance that Marvel has the rights to the character, though, since Mister Negative also shares stories with Cloak and Dagger. Maybe he’ll have to fit into their TV show instead of a Sony film. Either way, it would be cool to see Mister Negative brought to life.
Let’s assume that all my dreams come true: five years and ten films from now, Sony brings its Spider-Man Cinematic Multiverse to a head, with a crossover based on Spider-Verse, where spider-heroes from multiple realities band together to battle Morlun and The Inheritors, who seek to kill them all. After that epic event, where could Sony go from there?
Spider-Island could work nicely as a follow up. In this comic book arc, a massively powerful villainess named Spider-Queen (who’s a mutant in the comics, but could be changed for film) worked with the Jackal to infect New York with a spider virus. Everyone gained spider-powers, rendering Spidey useless, before mutating into violent arachnid creatures with no higher brain functions.
A threat on that kind of scale could inspire the cinematic Peter Parker to get his Multiverse of mates back together again. The Spider-Queen, whose powers include insect manipulation, telepathy and telekinesis, would be vital to telling that story.
Peter Porker: The Amazing Spider-Ham
Building a cinematic universe requires a lot of things: good stories, talented filmmakers and pitch perfect casting, for example. But another thing that it needs is levity. Just look at how comedic the Justice League trailers are: at some point, DC realised that you can’t win everyone over with dark and gritty.
To this end, I’m suggesting that Sony introduce Peter Porker, The Amazing Spider-Ham to the shared Spidey universe that they may or may not be planning. Things could never get too dark when there’s a talking pig superhero out there in the Multiverse.
If you’re unfamiliar, this parallel universe version of Spidey was born a spider, but transformed into a superhero after being bitten by an irradiated pig. He’s fought such villains as The Swinester Six. I’d settle for a Howard The Duck-style cameo, to be honest.
Speaking of levity, Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber’s 2013 comic The Superior Foes Of Spider-Man was completely hilarious. It followed an utterly useless version of the Sinister Six consisted of Boomerang, Beetle, Overdrive, Shocker and Speed Demon. (You’ll notice that’s only five members.)
In the comics, these D-list villains failed to get anything done, botching up robberies and double-crossing each other on the regular. There’s an on going side plot about the disembodied head of a crime lord, which remains alive and gets carried around in a bag. The laughs came thick and fast, and although the stakes were tiny and Spidey nowhere to be seen, it still felt like a worthy story.
If Sony does plan to launch a movie universe around Spidey, this is exactly the sort of story it could tackle. It remains to be seen if the studio’s plans truly involve parallel universes and alternate spider-heroes (as you might have noticed, I really hope they do), but there will always be room for a smaller, comedic, silly spinoff like this. Fingers crossed.