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Silver & Black is no more. The news broke Thursday that Sony and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Spider-Man spinoff has been shelved in favor of two separate movies starring Silver Sable and Black Cat. The news comes ahead of Sony’s release of Venom, which will launch a cinematic universe centering around supporting Spider-Man heroes and villains, while the webslinger continues to play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The exciting opportunity to see an ebony and ivory team-up movie from Prince-Bythewood will be missed, as the filmmaker transitions into a producing role for each film, while new female directors are found. Still, Silver Sable and Black Cat provide Sony with a unique opportunity to make these characters and their stories stand on their own, separate from Spider-Man, and separate from each other, at least for now. The biggest question, of course, is how Sony will manage to do that in order to create films with a potential to breakout in a way that’s closer to Blade (1998) than Elektra (2005). With Black Cat, that question may be a little more difficult to answer considering her similarity to DC’s similarly themed cat burglar. Silver Sable’s prospects seem a lot clearer on the surface, so clear in fact that they could lead to a rather generic espionage film with a character who feels Black Widow-lite, and a team that feels cobbled together from Deadpool leftovers. The secret to getting Silver Sable right onscreen isn’t to focus on the familiar aspects we’ve seen before in other movies, but the unfamiliar ones that will make her memorable, and perhaps even a little controversial.
Created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz, Silver Sable first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man No. 265 in 1985. The popularity of her guest appearances in Spider-Man led to her receiving her own series, Silver Sable and the Wild Pack in 1992, which lasted 35 issues. A mercenary turned magnate turned monarch, Silver Sablinova began her career as a Nazi hunter under the tutelage of her father. After her father’s death she continued his work with a group called Wild Pack and turned the operation into a successful global enterprise, Silver Sable International.
That origin alone is enough to craft an interesting film. While the Nazi hunting has shades of Magneto’s actions in X-Men: First Class (2011), and would have originally served as the basis for his canned solo film, a Silver Sable film could take a more contemporary angle. Silver Sable, by her very nature, is a political character. If Sony really wants to distinguish itself from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it should have Silver Sable get political, make a stand. I’m not talking about Captain American facing off against Hydra, the kind of subdued politicism geared towards not ruffling any feathers. No, I’m talking Silver Sable hunting down neo-Nazis, racist organizations and fascist politicians across the globe — mask-less menaces who threaten to destabilize our small steps in social progress. Searching for WWII Nazis in hiding is one thing for comic books, but in order to believe Silver Sable as an actual character with stakes in the world, she should question what her father’s post-World War II mission look like in today’s world? What would his vision of making the world a better place through rooting out injustice look like given the resources of company and country behind him? Of course, Sable’s comic adventures have gone beyond Nazism, focusing on terrorists, mobsters and costumed villains. But we’ve already seen that elsewhere, and to revisit those ideas with a character like Sable doesn’t seem like using the character to the best of her ability.
Eventually Silver Sable led an uprising in her country of Symarkia, becoming its monarch and fostering cordial relationships with the likes of Doctor Doom in the neighboring country of Latveria. This is where things get even more interesting. How does someone who inserts herself into the seemingly impenetrable moral quagmires of international affairs lead as a ruler, let alone a ruler who must make peace with the likes of the very men she was once tasked with stopping? While Doctor Doom won’t be able to appear, a similar situation, perhaps even one not so reliant on masks and code-names could easily work. Essentially, a Silver Sable movie could ask what would happen if a woman who spent most of her youth targeting those who would corrupt their power, had to forcibly take power at the risk of becoming the very thing she hunted? There’s the potential with the character to take some of the diplomatic aspects that made Black Panther such a hit, but then frame them in a way so that they’re associated with a character opposed to hiding from the world.
A number of superhero movies involving more popular characters have rejected, or led audiences to reject, the framing of their power and reach in the real world. Superman solving all of the world’s problems and asserting himself as a global leader may not work in movies, and Tony Stark using his tech to rid the world of medical ailments may not work on film with such big-name characters that carry with them certain audience expectations. But with a C-list character like Silver Sable, who many expect little if anything from at all, Sony can create a multi-picture arc that takes a hard look at what an individual’s idea of social justice would look like outside of alleyways and cityscapes and on a global stage.
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