Columbia Pictures president Sanford Panitch says the studio intends to recruit female director for multiple upcoming Marvel projects. This fall's Venom will serve as the first brick in the wall for this Spider-Man spinoff franchise, which has been internally dubbed Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters.
Sony is now officially developing several movies based around Marvel characters for the SUMC to follow Venom, including solo films for the female characters Silk and Jackpot. The studio is also moving forward with a Morbius the Living Vampire feature led by Jared Leto and directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Life), and has scripts for Nightwatch and Kraven the Hunter solo adventures in active development. The latest update on the matter has further revealed that the antiheroes Silver Sable and Black Cat are now set to headline solo films of their own, rather than sharing top billing in the Silver & Black team-up movie that Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights) was putting together.
According to Variety, Prince-Bythewood is currently expected to only produce the Silver Sable and Black Cat films, having recently turned her attention to adapting Greg Rucka's Old Guard comics for the big screen next, instead. However, should that happen, Sony is said to be "adamant" about replacing her with another female director on the movies. The studio also intends to recruit female directors for several of the developing SUMC films, in order to better ensure that the franchise is ultimately inclusive on both sides of the camera.
Between Silk (a Korean-American crime-fighter), Jackpot (a 40-something female costumed vigilante), and Felicia Hardy and Silver Sablinova (Black Cat and Silver Sable, respectively), the SUMC is already off to decent start, as far as the potential for onscreen inclusivity is concerned. Off-screen, however, the Spider-Man ancillary franchise has yet to do the same, between Espinosa taking on Morbius, Ruben Fleischer directing Venom, and Spike Lee being eyed to helm Nightwatch. Still, as mentioned, Prince-Bythewood is slated to work on the property in some capacity (be it director or producer only), and the SUMC may soon have women overseeing any and/or all of the projects that are without a director at the moment (male character-led films like Kraven included).
The area of on and off-screen representation of women is notably one that the cash cow Marvel Cinematic Universe has been weak in since its inception - something that Sony is no doubt aware of, as it moves to rapidly build its own Marvel Comics movie franchise and differentiate it from the competition. Warner Bros. and DC Films are likewise angling to get a leg-up on Marvel Studios in that department, via the female creative-led projects Birds of Prey, Batgirl, and Patty Jenkins' sequel Wonder Woman 1984. Naturally, Marvel Studios is more aware of this issue now, and is taking strides to improve in that area in the future. As such, it falls on these studios to actually deliver on these promises, next.
- Venom (2018) release date: Oct 05, 2018