In the face of enormous box office ticket sales around the globe, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was still a disappointment for Sony Pictures - forcing the studio to abandon a massive Spider-Man movie universe plan in favor of rebooting the character within Disney's existing MCU. Like many shared universe launching pads before it, most famously Iron Man 2, the second entry in Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man series struggled to balance a quality standalone movie with future sequel setup. The result was an increasingly clunky final act that succeeded in paying-off Gwen Stacy's story but fumbled Electro's finale battle (not to mention the introduction of Harry Osborn and Green Goblin).
Audiences turned out for the film to the tune of $708 million worldwide - which, compared to other superhero films, could sound like a resounding success; however, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was actually the lowest box office gross in franchise history. As a result, despite talk of The Amazing Spider-Man 3, as well as Venom, Black Cat, and Sinister Six spinoffs, Sony instead shuttered the entire plan - in favor of injecting a new Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland, into Captain America: Civil War. Now, over one year after Sony's shared universe went up in smoke, Sinister Six writer-director Drew Goddard is suggesting that his spinoff movie could still get made - as part of the MCU.
Speaking to i09, while promoting his latest project The Martian, Goddard shed a bit of light onto the intended connections between his Sinister Six installment and the larger Amazing Spider-Man storyline. In his comment, Goddard even suggests that he approached the villain spin-off movie as if it were a comic book "summer annual" - meaning that Sinister Six could, with minimal effort, retro-fit into Marvel and Sony's joint plan:
"My vision of that movie was a summer annual. So you didn’t have to worry about continuity. It was just, ‘We take Peter, put him on an adventure, we put him back in his life.’ I intentionally wanted a movie that didn’t have to worry about mythology and continuity. It was important to me to make a movie that could stand on its own. So the good news is, you know, [laughs], it slots in very well to any plan anybody ever wants. We just need to let a couple years go by, I think.”
Interestingly, Goddard's "vision" of a one-off adventure doesn't line-up with what Sony had been building - specifically, a piece within a very connected Spider-Man universe. While fans were told that villains teased in The Amazing Spider-Man 2's credits sequence might not represent the final Sinister Six roster, the sequel spent a lot of time laying the groundwork for Goddard's spin-off. Maybe the writer felt as though he could still craft a satisfying solo adventure that didn't require seeing The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2; yet, if that were the case, it would be due to the fact that Webb had already introduced several of the villains set to appear.
That said, without seeing the film in context as part of The Amazing Spider-Man storyline, it's impossible to know if Goddard's "summer annual" vision would have made it through to the final production - or if Sony would have pushed for a fully-serialized franchise installment. After all, the studio had, at one point, even teased the possibility that Spider-Man might not even appear in Goddard's Sinister Six spinoff movie - an ambitious notion that, looking back (and knowing the state of the franchise in 2015), was dangerously over-confident.
Prompted to discuss his Sinister Six plan in greater detail, Goddard doesn't give any story details except to say that Spider-Man was always part of his plan:
“It was a Spider-Man movie. It was the giant, epic Spider-Man movie of my dreams.”
However, Goddard does makes it clear that, while he was sad to see Sinister Six get delayed (or possibly cancelled altogether), the Spider-Fan is just as eager to see the Wall-Crawler team-up with The Avengers (echoing comments from Marc Webb hours earlier):
"The tricky part about all this is I love this plan. I love that you get to see Spider-Man in Marvel movies. I think that’s a great thing. I’m on board with that decision because as a fan that’s what I want. So who knows what the future holds? This is Hollywood, man, you’ve gotta play the long game."
Based on his statement, specifically the line "we take Peter, put him on an adventure, we put him back in his life," Goddard clearly sees a way to connect his Sinister Six movie with the Spider-Man set for debut in the MCU. But will we ever see that "giant, epic Spider-Man movie"? It's possible that Goddard's Sinister Six spinoff could be used as a frame for Marvel to build a solo outing down the line (as soon as Captain America: Civil War); though, after being criticized for attempting to introduce too many characters in a single film for Amazing Spider-Man 2, it's hard to imagine that when Sony plucks Peter Parker out of the MCU for a solo chapter in 2017, he'll face off against six villains.
While Goddard has a personal investment in extolling the virtues of his Sinister Six script, as well as its potential usability in the reboot, it's highly unlikely that fans will get to see the filmmaker's script adapted for the big screen - at least not any time soon. Nevertheless, Goddard is a talented guy with a host of fan-favorite projects to his name (Cabin in the Woods as well as Daredevil) and, assuming his idea of a Spider-Man summer annual-style film is as good as the writer seems to believe, it's always possible that the Sinister Six movie will make it to the theaters in some form.
After all, movies that can truly "stand on [their] own" will be instrumental to Marvel Studios in Phase 3 and 4 - as more and more heroes weave in and out of the core shared universe tale. If Goddard's angle on the Sinister Six really could avoid reliance on continuity, there's no reason to think that Sony wouldn't still be interested in utilizing his ideas.
Regardless, it's still hard to believe that Goddard could actually drop Peter Parker into a Sinister Six movie and then slip him back into the MCU - especially considering that Marvel is already struggling to account for why other Avengers heroes don't rally together in each solo film. That suspension of disbelief might be passable when heroes fight villains 1-on-1 but with the MCU comes shared universe challenges. How would Goddard explain a situation where Spider-Man had to fight six villains in the middle of New York City - without aid from other Avengers (since Disney owned Marvel characters are not, currently, announced for appearance in Sony films)?
Without knowing exactly what the filmmaker had planned, as well as which elements might be salvageable in the reboot, it's too soon to rule anything out - but expect more than "a couple years" to go by before we see the Sinister Six together on the big screen.
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man– July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.