UPDATE: APRIL FOOLS!!! - But should Sony Do Something Like This?
Sony has made a lot of plans for the Spider-Man franchise and its associated characters over the last few years, but perhaps the one that pleased fans the most was a recent partnership between Sony and Marvel Studios, which will allow Spider-Man to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A new standalone Spider-Man movie is set for a summer 2017 release and will reportedly have no connection to any of Sony's previous Spider-Man movies.
It would have been naive to think, however, that Sony was about to offer Marvel exclusive access to Spider-Man - especially given how lucrative the property has been over the years. Sure enough, the studio has announced that it will continue to develop not only its own Spider-Man movies, but an entire Spider-Man cinematic multiverse.
Whereas Marvel has access to a staggering breadth of its characters, Sony is somewhat limited to all things Spider-Man. Therefore, a multiverse franchise model allows for room to offer many variations on the character - essentially rebooting Spider-Man with each new universe that's introduced. Sony Chairperson Amy Pascal intends to leave the Spider-Man multiverse as her legacy, following her impending departure in May 2015. Pascal confirmed in a press release that all of the previous Spider-Man movies will also be retroactively incorporated into the multiverse.
The Spider-Man cinematic multiverse will be spear-headed by producer Avi Arad, who explained to THR exactly how the franchise will break down going forward. Some of these plans may be subject to change, but here are the projects that are currently on the slate - and which universes they will fit into.
Spider-Man (2002)Spider-Man 2 (2004)Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Sam Raimi's original trilogy of Spider-Man movies, which present the classic story of the superhero's origins as well as his encounters with major arch-enemies, will be set aside into a universe of their own. "I still love Sam's movies and think they hold up as well today as they did when they were first released," Arad explained. "Right now we have no plans to add to this universe just yet, but if Sam and Tobey [Maguire] become available down the line we might reconsider."
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)Venom (2017)The Sinister Six (2018)
The rebooted Spider-Man universe with Andrew Garfield will continue, but will focus on villains instead of the web-slinger himself. Both The Sinister Six and Venom - movies that got a long way into development before they were presumed to be dead - are being revived, with Venom acting as an introduction for the Sinister Six. "These movies were too good to let lie. I mean, who doesn't want to see a bunch of supervillains getting crazy?" said Arad. The producer didn't comment on whether or not Garfield will be returning for the upcoming titles.
Spider-Man 2099 (2019)
Taking a page from the comic books, Sony is developing an adaptation of the Spider-Man 2099 series, which is set in a dystopian future where Spider-Man's alter-ego is New York geneticist Miguel O'Hara. Miguel gains his Spider-Man abilities from gene alteration machines that he has been working on, and decides to use his powers to fight the corrupt megacorporations that run America.
"We're so excited to be able to bring this great alternate version of Spider-Man to the big screen," Arad enthused. "A Spider-Man universe set in the future opens up so many possibilities that we haven't been able to explore before now."
Black Cat (2017)Glass Ceiling (2019)
"We've wanted to make a female superhero movie for a long time, but the timing's always been wrong," Arad said, referring to plans for a fourth universe exclusively dedicated to female Spider-Man characters. "So we thought, well, we have separate bathrooms - why not separate universes? Keep it simple."
We've heard rumors of an all-female superhero team-up featuring characters like Black Cat, Silver Sable, Spider-Woman and Silk before and at the time dismissed them as unlikely, but now it looks like Sony is set on the idea of setting aside a universe exclusively for movies about its female Marvel characters. Felicia Hardy will get her own origin story first, then become leader of an as-yet unnamed team in Glass Ceiling. Spider-Man himself does not exist in this universe.
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (2018)
Perhaps the most surprising announcement is that Sony is planning to adapt the Broadway stage musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which featured music and lyrics by U2's Bono and The Edge. Turn Off the Dark is another origin story, but will be spiced up by Peter and co. singing about their adventures in hits like "Boy Falls from the Sky" and "Rise Above." The two main villains are Green Goblin and spider goddess Arachne, who takes the form of the spider that bites Peter and gives him his powers.
If it succeeds, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will be the first entry in a series of Spider-Man musical films, all set in a universe where people spontaneously burst into song and nobody questions it.
Agent May (2016)Agent May: From Brooklyn with Love (2017)Agent May: The Animated Adventures (2018-)Agent May: The Aunt Ultimatum (2018)
Another rumor made reality, Arad confirmed that a slate of Aunt May spy movies - along with a tie-in cartoon series for Nickelodeon - is in development, with plans to produce the films annually and with relatively low budgets. A kind of prequel story, Agent May will be set in the 1970s and explore Aunt May's former career as an international spy for a shady organization called V.U.L.T.U.R.E.
"What's exciting about Agent May is that we have kind of a blank slate to invent an amazing past for this character," Arad told THR. "People always underestimate Aunt May. After this they'll show that nice lady a little more respect."
Spider-Free (2017)Spider-Free 2: We Need a Hero (2018)Spider-Free 3: Everything's on Fire (2020)
"OK, so imagine the Spider-Man universe, but without Spider-Man," was Arad's pitch for this bold new trilogy of films about a version of New York City where all the villains show up while Peter Parker is still an infant. "You've got Green Goblin, you've got Doctor Octopus, you've got Mysterio... but where's Spider-Man? Well, Spider-Man's a baby, so the NYPD has to try and deal with all these crazy characters who are trying to destroy the city.
"It doesn't go well. Like, I don't want to spoil anything, but this trilogy is really going to be about why Spider-Man is such an important part of the equation. You take him away and things go wrong."
Black Spider-Man (2017)Black Spider-Man 2 (2018)Black Spider-Man Returns (2020)Black Spider-Man and the Temple of Doctor Doom (2021)Black Spider-Man Rides Again (2022)Black Spider-Man Goes to a Theme Park (2023)
"It's Spider-Man, but he's black!" Arad explained.
"I think that's a typo." - Avi Arad
Agent May will hit theaters in 2016, followed by Venom, Black Cat, Agent May: From Brooklyn with Love, Spider-Free and Black Spider-Man in 2017, The Sinister Six, Spider Man: Turn off the Dark, Agent May: The Aunt Ultimatum, Spider-Free 2: We Need a Hero, Black Spider-Man and Spooder-Man (title TBC) in 2018, Spider-Man 2099 and Glass Ceiling in 2019, Spider-Free 3: Everything's on Fire and Black Spider-Man Returns in 2020, Black Spider-Man and the Temple of Doctor Doom in 2021, Black Spider-Man Rides Again in 2022 and Black Spider-Man Goes to a Theme Park in 2023.
Source: Sony Pictures, THR