Sony Pictures’ $10 million purchase of the Spider-Man screen rights from Marvel in 1998 gave the studio access to a web of 900-something ancillary characters who will populate what the studio calls its “Sony Universe of Marvel Characters,” already home to Venom (Tom Hardy) and, in the folds of the multiverse, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore).
As Marvel parent company Disney renegotiates a deal with Sony that allows Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to operate in the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe under the creative control of Avengers master planner Kevin Feige, Sony is deep into plans for their own connected franchise anchored by its many Spider-people and Spider-Man’s famed rogues gallery.
“The most important thing is that each of these movies can stand on their own,” Spider-Man producer Amy Pascal told Screen Rant in June when asked if Sony’s Spidey-less spinoffs would demonstrate ties to an outside universe. “So I think the first thing for us to think about is: Venom has to stand on its own, Far From Home has to stand on its own, [Spider-Man: Into the] Spider-Verse has to stand on its own. They all have to be great movies themselves. And then the possibilities are endless.”
Suicide Squad Jared Leto stars as Spider-Man’s sometimes ally, sometimes enemy Dr. Michael Morbius, who inadvertently transforms himself into a living vampire when attempting to cure a rare blood disease. The second entry in Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters, Morbius is directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Life) and stars Leto, Jared Harris, Tyrese Gibson, Adria Arjona and Matt Smith.
After losing Venom director Ruben Fleischer, Sony recruited Andy Serkis (Breathe, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle) to direct its Tom Hardy-led followup. Again produced by Avi Arad (Spider-Man 3) and Matt Tolmach (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Venom), the sequel is expected to pit anti-hero Eddie Brock against bloodthirsty serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson).
When promoting Far From Home in June, Pascal confirmed Sony was “definitely hard at work on the sequel” to its acclaimed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The animated darling, produced by Jump Street filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, won Sony Pictures Animation its first Best Animated Feature Academy Award.
Joaquim Dos Santos (Avatar: The Last Airbender, Voltron: Legendary Defender) is attached as director. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman served as directors on Spider-Verse, which starred Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Nic Cage and Mahershala Ali.
Beyond Spider-Verse 2, Sony is developing an all-female spinoff centered around Spider-Gwen (Steinfeld). When plans were revealed in December, Lauren Montgomery (Batman: Year One, Voltron: Legendary Defender) was in talks to direct under producers Lord and Miller.
After publicly playing coy on the subject of a spinoff starring longtime Spider-Man foe Kraven the Hunter, Sony moved forward on the project with Richard Wenk (Equalizer 2) acting as screenwriter. In October 2018, Wenk said the obsessed hunter would “come face to face with Spider-Man.”
The writer said creatives on the project were “circling” Kraven’s Last Hunt, a famous storyline which saw Kraven defeat Spider-Man and assume his black-clad superhero identity before committing suicide via shotgun. More recently, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home director Jon Watts expressed an interest in using the character as the villain in Spider-Man 3.
In 2017, Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, BlacKkKlansman) was rumored to be Sony’s pick to direct a planned Nightwatch movie. Asked about the rumor a year later, Lee said, “Nah.” The project appears to still be in active development.
The lesser-known Marvel Comics character first appeared in Web of Spider-Man before headlining a short-lived eponymous title and appearing as part of the multi-book Maximum Carnage crossover.
2018 also brought word Sony was looking at Jackpot, a relatively new addition to Spider-Man comic book lore, for another spinoff.
Jackpot bore such a strong resemblance to longtime Peter Parker love Mary Jane Watson that Spider-Man originally believed his then ex-girlfriend was acting as a superhero. It was later learned two women, Sara Ehret and Alana Jobson, operated as the character.
Little has been said about this project in the year since it was announced.
As of June 2019, Sony was still in development on a solo project starring Spider-Man’s sometimes lover, sometimes enemy Felicia Hardy, a.k.a. the Black Cat.
“I like Black Cat a lot, I think she is a really great character,” Pascal told ScreenRant. “We had her a little bit in [The Amazing Spider-Man 2], but she’s kind of that character that we didn’t really turn into the Black Cat yet. I think that’s a really great character.”
Sony was developing Silver & Black — teaming Black Cat with Silver Sable, another Spider-Man frenemy — but that project stalled. Pascal insisted that protect, under attached writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood, was not yet dead even as Prince-Bythewood moved on to another superhero project.
The same 2018 report that revealed Sony was looking at Jackpot also shed light on Sony’s big-screen plans for another newer Spider-Man-related character: Korean-American superhero Cindy Moon, a.k.a. Silk.
“Spider-Man connects to a lot of the characters,” Columbia Pictures president Sanford Panitch told Variety. “There are villains, heroes, and antiheroes, and a lot are female characters, many of whom are bona fide, fully dimensionalized, and utterly unique.”
Panitch added Sony feels “there’s no reason the Marvel characters shouldn’t be able to embrace diversity.”
In December 2018, Spider-Verse producers said they aim to include both Moon and Jessica Drew, a.k.a. Spider-Woman, in the female-led Spider-Verse spinoff.
Sony has made repeat attempts to realize famed Spider-Man enemy group the Sinister Six on the big screen.
Before the Amazing Spider-Man franchise was cancelled two movies in — a result of Sony striking a deal with Marvel that brought a rebooted Spider-Man into the MCU in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War — Sony intended to debut the Sinister Six as part of that franchise, as hinted at repeatedly in Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods, Bad Times at the El Royale) was tapped as writer-director and the film was planned for a late 2016 release. In 2018, Goddard was hopeful that film could still “see the light of day.”
Two months later, Pascal said she was waiting on Goddard to “be ready to direct it.” The filmmaker was hired by Fox in 2017 to serve as writer-director on X-Men spinoff X-Force, another stalled project with an unclear future following Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox.