We’re all very wary of the upcoming Sony film, Venom, for a number of reasons. As film critics, because it looks like a script from a 90’s action/horror flick rather than a proper quality comic book movie as we’ve all been experiencing in recent films. As comic book fans, we’re seeing a film take from a comic book story arc without integrating one of the most important factors in the origins of that character namely Spider-Man.
Yes, Venom looks like Darkman and The Shadow in terms of script. It also manages to give the titular character an origin story that deviates from the comics. From the trailers, it appears Spider-Man is not the first host of the symbiote, and it looks like Eddie Brock will carry this part of the franchise by himself. Sony is pressing on with a project that appears to not even acknowledge the web-slinger as the origin of the alien anti-hero.
And it’s going full-steam ahead with other properties associated with the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
The Venom-Verse? The Spider-Verse?
Box office tracking for Venom seems to indicate that the film will open well enough when it hits theaters in October. If it does some decent box office numbers, Sony will have a number of sequels and standalone films within the universe of Spider-Man lined up afterwards. However, there has been no announcement about the wall-crawler even gracing his presence on screen for any of these films. And I don’t think the the strength of these films on their own is enough to survive. Especially in a film environment where everyone wants the worlds of our heroes to collide.
That being said, I’ve been wrong before. And maybe Sony will surprise me with some dynamic writing that will justify Tom Holland, the current Spider-Man actor, not showing up on set for any of the upcoming films. Maybe the solo films can stand on their own. Maybe they can do without any interconnectedness with the Web-slinger and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Sanford Panitch, president of Columbia Pictures ironically said this:
“We’re focused on being faithful to the comics.”
Panitch has oversight of what is being called the Sony Universe of Marvel Characters. And they have quite a lineup of films to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Sony Universe of Marvel Characters (SUMC)
The Studio is developing movies based on Silk, Jackpot, and Nightwatch, and is currently looking for writers for the various scripts.
Other projects in the works are Morbius the Living Vampire, with Jared Leto playing the titular character. Also Richard Wenk (Equalizer 2) is developing a screenplay for a solo Kraven the Hunter film.
Sony has since scrapped the Silver & Black film featuring Black Cat and Silver Sable of the Spider-Man universe. Instead, the studio will develop standalone movies for each of the characters, the first being for Black Cat. Panitch spoke about the decision to refocus the efforts into making two films:
“We believe Black Cat is enough of her own character with a great backstory and a canon of material to draw from to justify her own film.”
“Spider-man connects to a lot of the characters. There are villains, heroes and antiheroes, and a lot are female characters, many of whom are bona fide, fully dimensionalized, and utterly unique. We feel there’s no reason the Marvel characters shouldn’t be able to embrace diversity.”
Along with Venom, Sony will be doing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as an animated feature. This might serve as a test run for audiences going forward with how they will approach future projects.
The studio is also open to more adult themed films like Logan or Deadpool. That being said, Venom will unlikely have the R rating. But the brain trust at Sony believe the film should push the limits of PG-13. This way they will have leeway into featuring Spider-Man, the more family-friendly property of Sony. If Venom crosses into that R territory, it might isolate the character from any future meetups with Peter Parker. This separates the symbiote not only from the wall-crawler, but from other MCU characters if Disney wants to ever cross him over into one of their future films.
Speaking of Adult Themed Films: Jackpot
Jackpot, or Sara Ehret, is a character created in 2007 by Dan Slott and Phil Jimenez. She made her debut on Free Comic Book Day that year. The mantle of Jackpot passed to a character named Alana Jobson for a time.
Ehret gained her powers after being infected with experimental gene therapy to cure her Parkinson’s disease. She was pregnant at the time, and the gene therapy put her into a coma for a few months. When she wakes up and has the baby, she discovers she has enhanced strength. She manifests her powers when defending her family from falling debris from a Spider-Man fight. She also has superhuman stamina, and significant invulnerability to injury.
The story line Sony might be going for in her solo film could be more along the lines of when Alana Jobson inherits/buys the Jackpot mantle. Jobson takes a number of drugs and a mutant growth hormone to keep up with the superhero life. Jobson dies from the drugs, passing the mantle back to Ehret. The purchase of the title is what might be interesting to Sony as they are looking for more adult themed heroes. This could be along the lines of Jessica Jones or Luke Cage for adult content.
What do you make of Sony’s plan for their Sony Universe of Marvel Characters?