The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is about to swing into theaters, touting the tagline that Spider-Man's "Greatest Battle Begins." What that means, for those who don't know, is that this sequel is going to act as a launchpad for some big events in the Spider-Man Movie Universe - with bigger developments to follow. The tentative plan right now is for Amazing Spider-Man 3 to depict the character's battle against a horde of super-villains, and then two villain-themed spinoff films will follow (Venom and The Sinister Six). After that, the door would presumably be open for Amazing Spider-Man 4.
But of course, to get to all these big events - many of which fans have been eagerly waiting for - Sony needs to make a succe$$ story out of Amazing Spider-Man 2. The working game plan seems to be letting fans know what the returns will be in advance, so that they'll invest in the franchise now - which of course carries its own challenges. Superhero movie fans are known for their scrutiny and bottomless well of highly detailed questions - and so now the producers, directors and actors associated with the Amazing Spider-Man brand are required to be walking spokespeople for the franchise's ambitious future.
Producer Matt Tolmach (who has worked on both the Raimi era and modern era Spider-Man films) was out at the premiere of Amazing Spider-Man 2, and while talking to HYG, he built upon recent news about how the Venom the Sinister Six films fit into the franchise - and where films might blend together with the main Spider-Man movies... or not.
RE: Spider-Man showing up in the villain movies:
Matt Tolmach: We'll see. That would be an enormous spoiler I cannot give you. I'll just say that anything is possible. That's the fun of that, and that is what you see in some of those Marvel movies. Once you sort of decide to open up the universe, the rules go out of the window and you get to have fun. So, without actually answering the question, we'll see what happens!
RE: The ratio of villains to heroes in the Spider-Man universe:
If you look for example at Venom, I think knee-jerk people thing, 'Venom! A villain!' Really? Venom is a character who has this innate sense of goodness and justice, so there are lots of characters who can be a little bit of both. So, when you start talking about a Sinister Six movie, is it just going to be all bad guys? No. There's complexity to all of them, and that's part of the fun we're having right now as we're building it. Some characters are way worse - badder - than others. There's a lot you can do. There are some guys who are redeemable, and some who are really horrible.
RE: Spider-Man in Marvel Studios Movies:
We talk about everything all the time, but Marvel and Disney and Sony are obviously two very different companies. As great as it would be, the truth is no. Right now, we are working with the characters in the Spider-Man universe, and there are tons of them. The question everyone asks, 'Is Spider-Man going to show up in The Avengers?', that's not a plan for now. Right now, the truth about Spider-Man is that he swings along. That's his plight, so it's not happening anytime soon.
In a separate interview with IGN, Tolmach and fellow producer Avi Arad discuss what kind of story a villain team-up film like The Sinister Six could tell.
Matt Tolmach: “There's no such thing as just a villain. There are villains by virtue of choices that people make but they always begin as humans, as characters. As flawed people; as tragic people. You know great movies have been made about a bunch of bad guys who get together to do something... Yeah, I mean, there's a huge tradition of it. Those are sometimes the greatest characters to watch. A bunch of broken people coming together for whatever reason."
Avi Arad: "And everybody's looking for redemption; they're unforgiven. Would you see one of the Sinister Six starting to feel like that? Yes. And people love it, by the way. They love when a villain finds his way back because we're all very forgiving."
The interesting thing about most Sinister Six stories is indeed the dynamic within the team. Traditionally there has been the following clash of personalities: The maniacal members bent on grand-scale mayhem; the villains-for-hire who are interested in getting paid; and the unwitting members coerced into the gang through some kind of leverage. As the producers say, that creates a situation where "bad" is a relative term, offering opportunities for tensions and great character arcs within the group.
As for Spider-Man showing up? It would definitely be a fun gimmick to have the Web-Slinger appear in each spinoff film - but only as a cameo. If we're leaving the Spider-Man character on the sidelines in order to explore a wider universe of characters - then let's do that. Don't make another Spider-Man film that just so happens to lend unusual amounts of screen time to an ensemble; actually invest time and attention in your new characters. There are plenty of other fun ways to fit Spider-Man in.
Of course, for a Venom movie that does present a problem, since that character is traditionally defined by his obsession with Spider-Man. There have been plenty of Venom comic books that have offered the character story opportunities sans Spider-Man - so it really hinges on what The Amazing Spider-Man 3 does, narratively, and whether or not that film will be a sufficient set up for the Venom character. If so, then jumping into a Venom movie with minimal Spider-Man presence is an easy step; but if ASM3 isn't at least in part about the Venom/Spider-Man conflict... well, that's a story that's hard to skip over, and a solo film would likely have to focus on that (albeit from the Venom perspective).
What do you want to see out of these films based on the Spider-Man rogues gallery?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be in theaters on May 2, 2014.