How Sony Plans To Handle Its 'Spider-Man' Expanded Universe

The box office success of Spider-Man: Homecoming is all the proof we need that Sony Pictures will continue their plans to build out their own new Marvel expanded universe that's adjacent to Marvel Studios' cinematic universe. But thanks to a new report in Variety, now we know exactly how the studio plans to handle their upcoming superhero projects, including the Venom movie starring Tom Hardy. Read on for a breakdown of what they have coming up and get a glimpse into their approach to the material.

Before we get into the individual projects, let's take a look at Sony's overall strategy. Variety says that Columbia Pictures president Sanford Panitch has been diving into the comics and examining the cinematic potential of the roughly 900 characters (that's literal, by the way, not a joke) the studio has licensed from Marvel. They quote him as saying:

"With the Sony universe of Marvel characters, our mission is only to do what's the absolute best for each individual property. I just want to honor the original DNA."

I'm sure fanboys will be happy to hear that the comics are being treated with respect, but I think we've all heard lines like that enough times where we'll wait to see it until we believe it.

So while Marvel Studios has Kevin Feige as the grand unifier who oversees the entire studio's production slate, DC Films has Geoff Johns and Jon Berg doing the same for them, and Kathleen Kennedy lords over all things Star Wars, Sony has a different plan of attack: they aren't putting one person (or even a duo) in charge of their Spider-Man expanded universe. Variety says Sony wants each of their superhero movies to have "a distinct style," which means they'll take things on a case by case basis. So let's do the same right now, shall we?



First out of the gate will be Tom Hardy's Venom movie. Described as "a spin on a horror movie," which aligns with what we've previously heard, Panitch likens the film to the work of directors like John Carpenter or David Cronenberg, but with "more pop and fun." Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer is at the helm, and he explains why he's the guy for the job:

"I've always been drawn to the more antihero superheroes. There's a dark element to [Venom] and a wit that has always appealed to me."

He presents a quote that exemplifies his take on the material, which covers Venom's origins and the conflicted Jekyll and Hyde relationship the alien symbiote has with its host, Eddie Brock:

"They become almost a third being, which is what Venom is. There's a famous quote: 'You're Eddie Brock. I'm the symbiote. Together we are Venom.'"

Black Cat and Silver Sable

Silver & Black

As for Silver & Black, the film that centers on the mercenary known as Silver Sable and the jewel thief who operates under the alias Black Cat, director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights) says the movie will be a buddy film in the vein of movies like Thelma & Louise and Midnight Run.

"I wanted to tell the story of two damaged women who are at war with each other but need each other to survive."

This project will also involve the origins of the characters, so we can see how they've arrived at this point. Panitch also commented on Prince-Bythewood's take on this female-led project:

"Superhero movies have now transcended [the point] where they're no longer superhero movies per se; they are essentially genre movies. It's not so much that characters have a cape and fly. In 'Silver & Black,' these two women are modern and cool. ... They may wear costumes, but [they're] very real and very grounded."


Kraven and Mysterio spin-offs

About a month ago, we heard that Sony was developing spin-off films centered on comic characters like Kraven the Hunter (a serum-taking hunter obsessed with bagging Spider-Man) and Mysterio (an illusionist-turned-criminal), but Panitch wouldn't confirm those. When asked about Kraven, he simply said, "He's an awesome character. Let's just leave it at that."

But since it looks like Sony Pictures is largely sitting out this year's Comic-Con, I wouldn't expect to hear any more about these spin-offs during the convention. We'll keep you posted as soon as more information becomes available.