Sony's take on the Marvel universe has fluctuated wildly over the years, with three separate live-action takes on Peter Parker/Spider-Man, the Oscar-winning animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and a handful of solo films dedicated to various Spider-Man villains. One project that has been gestating at the studio for years has been Silver & Black, a proposed live-action film that would follow a team-up between Felicia Hardy/Black Cat and Silver Sablinova/Silver Sable. The film, which has been referred to as Marvel's answer to Thelma & Louise, has been stuck in development hell since 2017, with Sony expressing interest in a female superhero spinoff for three years prior to that. In the time since then, reports have indicated that the movie had been scrapped in favor of individual solo films for the characters, while comments in recent months have suggested that the project could ultimately manifest as a Disney+ series. While it's obviously unclear what the future holds for Silver & Black, it's clear that the project still has the potential to be one of the most entertaining - and necessary - Marvel projects Sony could put out.
Silver & Black has gone through multiple iterations since it was first announced in 2017, with Lisa Joy (Westworld), Christopher Yost (Thor: Ragnarok), Lindsey Beer (Sierra Burgess Is a Loser) and Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Captain Marvel), and the film's director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, all contributing to the script in one way or another. While there's no telling exactly what the most recent version of the script would have looked like, a recent article dove into reported plot details from one of the film's iterations. In addition to chronicling the unlikely partnership between Silver Sable and Black Cat, the film was reportedly poised to feature a surprising whos-who of Marvel characters, including Dominic Fortune, Gaunt, Chameleon, Scorpion, Tarantula, Tombstone, and the Wild Pack. A closing scene of the film would have seemingly ended with Silver forming her own "female version of the Dirty Dozen", including the likes of Spider-Woman, Jackpot, Stunner, and Dusk. Again, there's no indication how much that iteration would resemble Silver & Black as we could possibly see it in the future, but that menagerie of unique and unexpected characters is certainly a pleasant surprise for diehard Marvel fans, and arguably prove that the film could easily get away with not having to reference Spider-Man, even if some members of its ensemble changed.
The nature of "how to make a Spider-Man spinoff without Spider-Man" has been a dilemma that has hung over essentially every Sony spinoff over the past few years, as Sony essentially shares custody of Tom Holland's Spider-Man with Marvel Studios. Venom has largely gotten by without needing to reference Peter Parker, Morbius appears to be acknowledging Spider-Man in a head-scratching way, and potential projects like Madame Web, Jackpot, and Silk feel intrinsically tied to the Spider-Man mythos in one way or another. Sure, Black Cat is often regarded as a love interest of Peter Parker, and Silver Sable partners up with Spider-Man on occasion, but there's enough existing canon to not need to filter their stories through him (especially given the fact that Sony's current live-action Peter is still a teenage high school student, and Silver & Black would presumably follow much other iterations of Felicia and Silver). Both characters are visually and narratively interesting enough to exist on their own, to where audiences wouldn't need the overt tie to Spider-Man to understand Black Cat's career as a quick-witted jewel thief or Silver Sable's stint as a government-sanctioned mercenary. Plus, given Sony's penchant for casting well-known actors to help bring characters into the mainstream (just look at Venom's Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson, Morbius' Jared Leto, and Michael Keaton and Jake Gyllenhaal as the two main villains of Holland's Spider-Man movies) having two recognizable actresses portray Felicia and Silver might be enough to draw in more casual viewers.
There's also the significance of the very existence of Silver & Black, especially when juxtaposed with the rest of the modern-day comic book movie landscape. While female representation in mainstream superhero movies has improved a lot in recent years, there's still a long way to go in terms of representing different kinds of female stories in that domain, as opposed to the largely-idealistic stories of Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. DC gradually began to turn that tide earlier this year with the release of this year's Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), an R-rated ensemble movie that represented the complexity and earnestness of femininity in a way that few mainstream blockbusters have. There's no reason why Silver & Black couldn't serve as Sony's answer to Birds of Prey, while also strengthening and diversifying the mythos of their overall Spider-Man universe, especially with Prince-Bythewood behind the camera. Anyone who has checked out Prince-Bythewood's adaptation of The Old Guard - which hit Netflix this past weekend and quickly topped the streaming service's most-watched list - will get a sense of what kind of action-packed, raw female story she would bring to that domain. A woman of color directing a female-led mainstream superhero movie that's written mostly by women still feels groundbreaking in today's industry (with Birds of Prey, directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson, being the only exception released thus far), and the success of The Old Guard could only help draw in more people to check out whatever Prince-Bythewood does next.
Ever since Sony first began developing their own Marvel spinoffs, the studio has made it clear that they're not concerned with making "conventional" superhero movies, and instead with telling an array of distinct stories. As their slate of movies has grown and evolved over the years, the fact that Silver & Black hasn't had much forward momentum has only grown more disappointing. With a talented director, an untapped potential in terms of characters to introduce, and a unique corner within the Spider-Man movie landscape, Silver & Black is a story that audiences deserve to see in one way or another.