Sony’s Spider-Man franchise is in a strange place right now. The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2 have both been mixed bag affairs (as generally acknowledged by both fans and critics), and the Spider-Man Movie Universe that Sony hoped to launch off the back of ASM2 has lost significant momentum with both hardcore fans and general audiences.
Yet and still Sony is pushing ahead, with a Sinister Six villain team-up film planned for 2016; Venom and a female hero movie both rumored for 2017; and Amazing Spider-Man 3 in 2018. That’s an ambitious plan, but a lot of the details remain unclear – namely, how much of Spider-Man will we see involved in all this?
Well, there’s one person who would probably know the answer to that: The Amazing Spider-Man himself, Andrew Garfield.
Garfield (like many celebrities) is currently making the rounds at TIFF, where (like many celebrities) he was approached by journalists about his bigger pop-culture franchise. In regards to Sinister Six, its director Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods), and Spider-Man’s affiliation, Garfield would only say the following:
I know more than I’m allowed to say right now… I can say I’m really excited about Drew Goddard, who’s going to be writing and directing The Sinister Six movie. And whether I’m involved in that or not is kind of immaterial.”
“I don’t know if I should say anything right now. But Drew is really exciting… Hence, me not telling you s— about that.”
What it sounds like from that quote is that a franchise star is trying to step aside and be a team player by promoting his teammates. However, Garfield’s good graces aside, there is still the question of how much Spider-Man is necessary in these movies in order to sell them.
Right now, the general public doesn’t care about the Sinister Six – they probably don’t even know that it’s a thing, yet. Amazing Spider-Man 2 didn’t do all that much to set up the villain team-up (the pieces are there, sure, but the concept has yet to be fleshed out); and while Venom certainly has a fan base to stand on, Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 proved that the anti-hero needs proper room to establish himself onscreen. Without knowing what the possible concept is for a female-centric film, it’s hard to call how much marketing potential is there.
That’s all to say: at this point it seems like there’s going to be a lot of Spidey webbing needed to string all these things together into a shared universe. Spider-Man is the selling point of this franchise – and as we pointed out, he may be the only one right now. More to the point: trying to create something that could be as unique as a Sinister Six movie – and then, trying to tie it into the larger Spider-Man narrative – is nearly impossible to do without showing people Spider-Man along with it.
Smart money is on Spider-Man showing up in one, two, all of these films in some capacity. The question (once again) is how much of a capacity? Too much exposure, these projects become unofficial Amazing Spider-Man’s 3, 4, 5; too little, and the audience won’t be wrapped into the larger universe.
The classic way to do this would be cameos – or even clever Pulp Fiction-style character connections (Spidey swings by in a scene, foils a small robbery or skirmish, etc.). It’s a middle ground that allows Sony to push advertising that features Spidey, while still keeping the actual films (mostly) focused on the second-tier characters the studio hopes to promote. We’ll see what shakes out.
Sinister Six remains set to hit theaters on November 11th, 2016, while The Amazing Spider-Man 3 will arrive sometime in 2018. We’ll keep you posted on development of the Spider-Man female superhero movie and Venom.