Why Sony Beats The Competition
We've established why Sony are ones to watch in 2018, but why is that enough to make hype for their two movies stronger than the lofty competition? It's not a case of any of the others lacking in hype - the overused phrase "it's a good time to be a superhero fan" is truer now than ever - rather than Sony's positives rise above the other's shortcomings.
There's no denying Marvel's really upping their game in 2018 - and looks set to reap the box office rewards as a result. Each of their three releases offers things we haven't seen before and thanks to an unprecedented seventeen movie run come with an assured sense of quality. But there is still the formula: Marvel movies are marked out as a type beyond the opening logo, with a classical plot structure (especially for origin films), weak villains who exist to only lionize the heroes, and an overbearing sense of humor and "fun" even if the story doesn't demand it. This doesn't make them bad, but can lead to a rather rigid set of films, with directors simply putting their outside stamp on the same machine. We know what to expect - and what not to.
If any trio can break through that complaint, it's Ryan Coogler, the Russo brothers, and Peyton Reed, but in light of this, everything Sony is doing feels unique, which is definitely appealing after nearly two decades of the genre. It's also worth noting that within the formula one of the key appeals for the MCU this year comes from Sony: Spider-Man. It's Marvel Studios who've returned Peter Parker to past glories, but any success with the character in Infinity War has to be in some small part attributed to the studio doing the loaning.
Meanwhile, DC is essentially taking a year off to reassess their shared universe, something that was always the plan but very helping considering they're still recovering from the critical and box office disaster of Justice League. There's only one film coming from the DC Films label - Aquaman - and despite being directed by perpetually entertaining popcorn expert James Wan, the character's blunt introduction in Batman v Superman and Justice League leaves massive question marks. It's hard to not plump for Eddie Brock.
Finally, there's Fox, which is the studio Sony's closest to in feel (at least with their villain series). The X-Men have grown a lot in the past few years and 2018 has always been marked as their time for expansion, with three releases for the first time ever (they did two in 2016). What's so remarkable is that those three films continue the trend for more varied, higher-reaching and adult genre fare started with the raunchiness of Deadpool and the bleakness of Logan; even main-series entry Dark Phoenix is being sold as having more to it than meets the eye. However, it's hard to get too invested thanks to behind-the-scenes considerations: the Disney purchase of Fox and the promised bringing over of the X-Men to the MCU is exciting for the property, but takes away some of the allure of these films (even if Deadpool sequel/spinoff X-Force is still on the cards). Plainly put, there's forward momentum at Sony, not at Fox.
Sony's New Future Begins in 2018
Sony has long been a laughing stock amongst movie fans, and not just with superhero output either; out of all the major studios they're the ones who seem to flail to almost comedic measures, consistently turning in inexplicable reboots and bizarre original properties (with only Bond to bring in some prestige and money). This peaked with the 2014 email hack, which revealed a company in chaos that really was throwing everything at the wall (and sometimes going with things that didn't even stick). That's still true now - in 2017 they had The Emoji Movie, Flatliners and The Dark Tower - but there's a greater sense of what audiences want; the Spider-Man sharing deal is most prominent, but there's a more careful eye to pictures, with 2017 bringing the likes of Baby Driver, All The Money in the World and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
This is reflected in their Spidey expansion. Sony have always had a near-limitless cast of characters care of the character's film rights, but until now have felt restricted by Peter Parker. That's understandable considering their ownership dates back to a time when only Batman and Superman were believed able to front a Hollywood production, but Avengers and X-Men shows the depths audiences are willing to go. They started off trying the shared universe route, building things off the main Spider-Man series, but after Deadpool and, to a lesser extent due to prior connections, Logan, it's become apparent (or, should it be, re-apparent) audiences will come out for good stories. Venom and Into the Spider-Verse, above all, look like good stories.
It's still unclear at this point whether the two diametrically opposed Spidey films will succeed, and if the studio's long-term plans for a Spider-lite superhero universe really can be pulled off, but as it stands they offer something more collectively exciting than the rest of the pack. Now let's just how they don't Sony it up.
- Venom (2018) release date: Oct 05, 2018
- Silver and Black release date:
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) release date: Dec 14, 2018