With The Amazing Spider-Man films receiving just a lukewarm response, is Sony trying to hit another jackpot?
Spider-Gwen, Marvel's biggest character find of 2014, seems primed for a big-screen treatment. The spider-powered Gwen Stacy from an alternate universe is already a massive hit with readers across the board. Despite her brief "Edge of Spider-Verse" story to prove her worth as a character, Spider-Gwen has already infiltrated a sizable chunk of popular culture. Marvel already awarded the character with her own ongoing series. Fans adopted her instantly iconic costume at New York Comic Con. The mainstream media has given her some ink. Heck, there's even a real-life adaptation of the single that Spider-Gwen's alter-ego performed in the pages of "Edge of Spider-Verse #2." This is all just a long way of explaining that the girl's got game right now.
So will Sony, which holds the rights to producing and Spider-Man related film, jump on the Stacy-Zeitgeist? It's not the most complicated web to untangle. In their slate of "Spider-Verse" films announced earlier this year, Sony specifically cited a "female-led" film within their forecast. Aiming for a 2017 release date, the unannounced movie already has screenwriter Lisa Nolan attached. By then, Gwen will have matured into a fully realized character with plenty of dramatic source material to pull from.
But that's only a romantic justification for the film's creation. Sony shouldn't be afraid to project the property to the big leagues while it's still hot from the oven. In fact, Marvel has a reputation of publishing new titles and characters with the specific intent of farming them out later to other media. It's how readers got Dazzler back in the eighties, and now they're seeing it all the time in Avengers titles for the Marvel cinematic universe. Or did you really think that new Bucky Barnes: Winter Soldier ongoing series was birthed from Marvel's unadulterated passion for Captain America's old sidekick? Think about it. Spider-Gwen was first solicited for "Edge of Spider-Verse #2" in June, Sony made their announcement in August, then Spider-Gwen officially debuted in September. The path seems quite linear, no? Sony could have easily brokered a deal with Marvel to create a new female spider-centric character.
Of course, the biggest factor in creating a Spider-Gwen movie hasn't much to do with the character at all (sorry, comic fans). Actress Emma Stone is the real golden goose here. With Gwen already established in their Spider-Man universe, Sony must see their chance at a female-led franchise with a super-star actress already built in. This could be their Hunger Games, but with bigger box office returns. A mainstream moviegoer would be far more tempted to see a female superhero film with Emma Stone in a familiar role than an unfamiliar character, like Jessica Drew or Black Cat. There is that little hiccup of a detail (spoilers ahead) that Gwen bit it at the End of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but come one, this is comics. There's no narrative length Sony and Marvel wouldn't travel to bring Gwen back into the land of the living—and net worth. In fact, Emma Stone even hinted to Screenrant that, "There's a whole plotline that could happen that may bring her back." Most figured it would come via flashbacks or a supporting role—but now? Perhaps Stone will ditch the damsel in distress routine and start doing whatever a spider can.
Don't let "Fantastic Four's" cancellation or the X-Men's diminished presence fool you about Marvel's hesitance towards properties they can't film. Marvel's relationship with Sony is far cozier than it is with Fox's--meaning, they get a much fatter slice of the merchandising from Spider-Man films than from X-Men or Fantastic Four ones. A Spider-Gwen venture could be a worthy investment for the publisher, with as many returns for them as for Sony.
While the world is still months away from an official announcement, it's difficult not to imagine a Spider-Gwen movie at this point. The writing is on the web.