Sony (NYSE: SNE ) isn't content to just make Spidey films. Nope, it also wants to tell the onscreen stories of Spider-Man and his amazing enemies. The studio added Venom and The Sinister Six to its slate on Thursday evening. Release dates are still to be determined.
Maybe that's why the Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer is so crowded? Signs point not only to appearances by Electro and the Rhino, but also Hobgoblin, the Green Goblin, and perhaps even Doctor Octopus. I'd be thrilled were this a mini-series or major story arc in the comics. But in a movie? That sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Spidey gets a brain boost
Unless, of course, director Marc Webb is trying to set the stage for introducing the Sinister Six. Spidey's most infamous rogues' gallery originally included Doc Ock, the Vulture, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Sandman, and Mysterio, a personal favorite of mine.
Drew Goddard will write the script for The Sinister Six and may also be called upon to direct. Fans and investors might remember that Marvel has signed Goddard as showrunner for its 2015 Netflix original series, Daredevil.
Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Ed Solomon will write the script for Venom. Add Webb, writer Jeff Pinkner, and producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach to the mix and you've got what Sony is calling a "franchise brain trust" to develop a "continuous tone and thread" throughout Sony's Spider-Man films.
Does crime pay? We'll find out soon enough
All of which sounds good. The bigger question is whether it's smart to use villains as franchise fodder when moviegoers and comics fans tend to side with the good guy. Look at the sales charts. Issue 42 of Venom, that character's solo book, ranked 139th in October. Issues 40 and 41 ranked 150th and 156th, respectively, in September, according to data supplied by the Comics Chronicles.
A similar book, Superior Foes of Spider-Man, also ranked right around 100 in both September and October. By contrast, Spidey's signature book (which, admittedly, would look unfamiliar if you hadn't been reading the title for a while), tends to rank among the top 15 each month.
Cinema history is a little different. According to Box Office Mojo, "Crime Time" films that feature crooks or bad guys as primary characters can do well. Notable wins include Inception, The Departed, and Quentin Tarantino's breakout hit, Pulp Fiction. Count this year's 2 Guns and 2005's A History of Violence among a handful of comic book adaptations in the genre, which means there's a precedent for Sony's strategy.
Yet there's also a difference between gangsters and comic book villains. We know the former can carry a film. The latter? Sony will soon find out.
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