Spider-Man Homecoming is, predictably, a huge hit - and that means one thing: the birth of a new shared universe, under the guidance of Sony.
We've known about the existence of Venom and the Black Cat and Silver Sable project Silver & Black for a while now, and have heard conflicting reports on the films' connectivity with the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, but we've heard little about Sony's overall vision for its series of spinoffs.
As per Variety, that may be because there isn't much of one. Rather than putting a single producer in charge of the Spider-Man extended universe, a la Kathleen Kennedy or Kevin Feige, Sony sees each film as a distinct creative entity, to be produced in styles distinct from your garden-variety superhero movie. "Superhero movies have now transcended [the point] where they’re no longer superhero movies per se; they are essentially genre movies," says Columbia Pictures president Sanford Panitch, and he's got a point. These movies are everywhere now; superheroes can surely be handled simply as characters, rather than a genre.
Panitch says Ruben Fleischer's Venom will be an R-rated horror film inspired by David Cronenberg and John Carpenter, while Silver & Black is a Thelma & Louise-esque buddy movie telling "the story of two damaged women who are at war with each other but need each other to survive," according to director Gina Prince-Bythewood. They're joining, of course, the heavily John Hughes-influenced Homecoming.
We've seen this kind of approach touted before - by Warner Brothers, which claimed its DC Universe would be director- rather than producer-led, and by Marvel fans, who claim Marvel films are more distinct from each other than they really are. (Apologies, fam - the house style exists, and any deviation is just variation on a theme.) Panitch says Sony is trying to do "what’s the absolute best for each individual property"; whether or not Sony can follow through remains to be seen. Does anyone really expect Venom to go fully down the horror-movie route, for example?
Apparently the studio's Marvel deal includes the rights to around 900 characters, so there's plenty more genres to plumb. Maybe a courtroom drama? A romantic melodrama? A musical? (On second thought, no, maybe not a musical.)