Thursday, June 25, 2015

Spider-Man Spinoffs in the MCU

Image Courtesy

Remember all those spinoff movies that Sony was talking about before their The Amazing Spider-Man cinematic universe collapsed in on itself?  Remember just how stupid some of them sounded?  Aunt May: The Movie?  The Amazing Spider-Man 1.5—in which the whole second movie becomes sort-of pointless?  La-ame.  When news of all those planned spinoffs was coming out in the wake of the Sony hack, I remember laughing at most of them.

However, now that the Spider-verse is being incorporated into the MCU, what’s going to become of all these spinoffs?  Are they going to be made, or will they get thrown onto the garbage heap alongside Ghost Rider 3 and the Blade spinoff?

Surprisingly, I actually think that some of the suggested spinoffs can fit well into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though they may not appear in quite the same way as they would have in the TASM universe.  Here are my thoughts on some of the characters whom Marvel could build spinoff movies around.

Image Courtesy

Venom is of course the most intriguing and obvious choice as a definite fan favorite character.  We’ve already seen him once in the Sam Raimi trilogy, though he wasn’t given much of a character arc.  However, I think we can definitely see him again in the MCU.  And in fact, he could help to build some of the connections between the Earth-bound heroes and the cosmic ones.  Here is a possible 4-movie arc for the character:

Venom – The symbiote comes to earth and bonds with several different characters, eventually bonding with Peter Parker at the end of the movie.

[The Spectacular] Spider-Man 2 – Venom/Spider-Man fight crime while bonded together, though Peter struggles against Venom’s violent nature.  Eventually, Spider-Man “defeats” Venom by casting him off, at which point he bonds with Eddie Brock and escapes into the night.

Venom vs. Carnage – Venom/Eddie “births” Carnage.  Venom, Spider-Man, and a couple of other heroes (Luke Cage and Iron Fist, perhaps) must team up to take on Carnage and stop his murderous rampage across New York.  At the end, Venom and Carnage are both captured and contained by S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agent Venom – The first act tells the story of all the previous Spider-Man films from Flash Thompson’s perspective, along with his war service.  This is revealed to be a flashback of Flash’s while he is explaining himself to Coulson.  Coulson asks him to volunteer for an experimental bonding with the Venom symbiote.  The second act is Flash and Venom bonding, and his subsequent struggle to control the symbiote.  The final act shows Agent Venom meeting Spider-Man, and then the two of them teaming up to face a new villain together.

Image Courtesy
Sinister Six

As the third movie in a series, I just don’t think Sinister Six would have worked.  Spider-Man had enough villains, but there wasn’t quite enough build-up in my opinion to justify a supervillain team-up—at least as far as the villains’ stories were concerned.  Add to that the fact that this would either see Spidey getting the snot beat out of him by a 6-villain pile-up, or else see the 6 villains neutered to the point where Spidey could take them on himself.  Either way, I just didn’t really see it working and doing everyone justice.

That being said, I really think that in a universe with more than just one superhero, a super villain team-up makes a lot more sense.  They can form and expand the Sinister Six team far more organically with a whole MCU of media to choose from than they can with a couple of Spider-Man movies.  After all, even though Spider-Man has an enormous stable of villains to use, they can only fit so many into a given movie, making it harder to introduce and develop the six villains you use for this team.

I don’t think Sony and Marvel should try to turn the Sinister Six into a team of villains fighting a worse villain; we will have seen that a couple times already before the Sinister Six movie can appear:  Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Suicide Squad.  I think a better idea would be to take all the superhero tropes and look at them from the villain’s perspective.  The villains are getting defeated alone by various heroes, so they decide to band together to defeat the hero.

We may have already seen the beginnings of an “MCU Sinister Six” from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  In the episode “One of Us” (2x13), Doctor Cal assembled a team of minor super villains to confront Coulson and his team and win Skye’s approval.  The plan… didn’t work out as planned.  After he was “abducted,” his remaining four team members were defeated by Coulson, Mockingbird, and the Cavalry (three ordinary human S.H.I.E.L.D. agents).

Image Courtesy
However, perhaps Wilson Fisk (now calling himself the “Kingpin”) sees a news report (or has a contact in Wisconsin with insider information) about that incident.  He now realizes that the best way to confront a group of skilled and/or powered individuals is with an elite team—not cannon fodder.  Once he gets out of prison, he contacts a couple of other villains and brings them together to dispatch The Defenders so he can get back to rebuilding Hell’s Kitchen in his image.  Among others, he could bring in the Purple Man and Absorbing Man (both of whom will have appeared in the MCU already), along with a couple other villains such as Vulture and Scorpion, who are new to the MCU.  This threat causes the Defenders to join together to save their city.  A couple of the villains are captured or killed, while Kingpin and the rest disappear into the woodwork.

[The Spectacular] Spider-Man will introduce another villain or two—say Mysterio and Kraven—who will still be on the loose at the end of the movie.  One or both of these villains can join up with Kingpin’s forces to create the first iteration of the “Sinister Six.”

The Sinister Six movie would follow one new villain primarily—the same way a hero-centric movie follows that hero—and explore his motivations:  What made him?  Why is he a villain?  Why does he hate Spider-Man?  Why would he work with a group of other villains?  The team lineup for this movie would include Kingpin as the ringleader, along with a couple of his The Defenders teammates, the villain(s) from [The Spectacular] Spider-Man, and a couple of new characters.  This team would fight a number of different individual heroes before engaging in an epic battle against a small team of heroes—perhaps Spider-Man, Daredevil/Luke Cage/Iron Fist, and one other (Puma?).  At the end of the movie they may take most of the Sinister Six into custody, but several escape.

Future Sinister Six movies and appearances would use multiple different lineups from all over the MCU and fight against many different heroes and teams.  Eventually they may even join with Spider-Man to take on a bigger threat, but only after they’ve established their “villain cred.”

Image Courtesy
Other Characters

Black Cat and Puma are two characters who are very closely associated with Spider-Man.  Felicia Hardy, aka Black Cat, is Spider-Man’s love interest for a while (competing with Mary Jane), a cat burglar, and a reluctant antihero.  Essentially she’s Marvel’s answer to Catwoman.  Thomas Fireheart, aka Puma, is a Native American super soldier, the product of mysticism and selective breeding, designed to protect his tribe.  He began as a mercenary hired to kill Spider-Man, but eventually came to respect Spider-Man and team up with him as a hero.  Puma and Black Cat also have something of a relationship in the comics.

I think that either of these characters could headline their own movie (after all, Marvel turned a talking raccoon and a tree into international celebrities), but it would be very challenging.  Between the two, I think there might be more independent material with Puma; Black Cat is just too close to Catwoman and too closely associated with Spider-Man.

Image Courtesy
In my opinion, the best way for Sony and Marvel to introduce these characters—especially if they want them to stand on their own apart from Spider-Man (which is what I think Sony will be trying to do)—is to put some distance between them and Spider-Man at first.  Black Cat could fit well in the Hell’s Kitchen universe of The Defenders:  build her up as a cat burglar who struggles with her criminal activity and conflicts with the Heroes for Hire (for example) before letting her interact with Spider-Man.  Puma could also fit in with The Defenders, but his back story is unique enough and “separate” enough that I think he has a better chance of headlining a movie than Black Cat.  He shares some similarities with Black Panther and Captain America, but the character still has distinctive traits and character flaws.  A Native American superhero is something we have not seen before onscreen in a superhero movie!

Image Courtesy
Another possible character might be John Jameson, aka “Man-Wolf,” who is J. Jonah Jameson’s astronaut son in the comics.  Like the others, he is an occasional ally and occasional antagonist of Spider-Man.  He might also be able to headline his own movie, though he might work better as a side character in [The Spectacular] Spider-Man whose long-term story arc sees him transform into Man-Wolf, but not for a couple movies.

There are more possibilities, but the last one I’m going to talk about is Aunt May.  This was one of the most confusing spinoff ideas to come out of the Sony hack in my opinion.  However, if Sony really wants to turn Aunt May into some sort of superspy along the same lines as Peggy Carter, I think they can try, but I would not have her headline a movie to start.  Instead I would use the media Marvel already has at its disposal to introduce her—specifically either in the Agent Carter series or in a Wasp series set in the 1970s as a supporting character.  If she is well-received and audiences like her, then sure, Sony can let her headline her own movie.


Long story short, now that Spider-Man is part of the MCU, we may still see Sony produce some spinoff movies based on Spider-Man characters and set in the MCU.  And because they would be set in the MCU, I think they would actually be much improved over an independent Spider-Man-centric movie universe.

Hopefully after the Spider-Man movie comes out in 2017, Marvel and Sony will get the kinks worked out with their collaboration and be able to really exploit the benefits of having 2 different production houses to work on their movies.  At some point (*cough2018cough*), Marvel will finally be producing 3 movies at Disney.  And hopefully, Sony will start producing 1-2 of their own MCU movies each year.  So in Phase 4 we could conceivably start getting 4-5 MCU movies every year between the 2 studios—and I couldn’t be more excited!

Which Spidey spinoffs do you want to see?  What characters are you most excited to see in the MCU?

If you want to get an email whenever I publish a new article, go to the top of the page and enter your email address in the box labeled “Subscribe to Mostly MCU Reviews” and click “Submit.”

No comments:

Post a Comment