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Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton yesterday announced the studio’s “ambition about creating a bigger universe around Spider-Man,” saying that there were “a number of scripts in the works” already. But — scripts about whom, exactly?
For decades, Spider-Man was portrayed as a loner in the greater Marvel Universe — this despite his being the recurring co-star in a series called Marvel Team-Up — and, unlike franchises like the X-Men or Avengers, the majority of characters most people consider “belonging” to the Spider-Man franchise are villains or supporting characters.
Assuming that Sony doesn’t have plans for a Mary-Jane Watson movie or Doctor Octopus: The Early Years, what heroes could star in a Spider-Man spinoff? Here are 13 options, each one a hero (or, in a few cases, anti-hero) who made their debut via an appearance in Spidey’s adventures:
- Who? A former teen sidekick who gained powers in an accident caused by Peter Parker’s science experiment, he had all of the power — and then some — of Spider-Man, but none of the responsibility.
- Movie Potential? Minimal; a fairly recent, and fairly minor, character in the Marvel Universe, he basically exists as a “What If?” alternative to Peter Parker’s guilt-ridden route. Take that away, and there’s not a lot there to base a movie around …
- Who? Literally the Catwoman to Spider-Man’s Batman, Felicia Hardy is a cat burglar who occasionally plays on the right side of the law when it benefits her — or if it’ll help occasional boyfriend Spider-Man out.
- Movie Potential? Depending on the take, there’s definite potential there. After all, she’s essentially Catwoman with white hair, and everyone agrees that Anne Hathaway was one of the best things about The Dark Knight Rises, right … ?
- Who? Not the current incarnation of the character — nor even the first — but Monica Rambeau, who currently goes by the name Spectrum. Better known as a member of the Avengers, the character actually made her debut in an Amazing Spider-Man annual in 1982.
- Movie Potential? In the unlikely chance that the character isn’t part of Marvel Studios’ package due to her Avengers connections, most definitely. With a greater power-set and entirely different demographic than Spider-Man, there’s the potential for Monica to bring a whole new audience to the superhero genre if done right.
Cloak and Dagger
- Who? Two runaways who gained superpowers as the result of a contaminated batch of heroin — don’t ask — Brandy and Tyler became personifications of light and darkness respectively, forming a teenage vigilante duo dedicated to cleaning up the streets of New York.
- Movie Potential? The duo lack the rogues gallery — or well-known mythology — to make it in the movies, but it could potentially work well as a procedural television series. If Sony wanted to truly do a full Marvel, of course.
- Who? Created for the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends animated series from the early 1980s, Angelica Jones was definitely a heroine of her time, manipulating microwave radiation to generate heat and fly — as well as prepare meals in half the usual time (Okay, that happened offscreen).
- Movie Potential? Not by herself — outside of her time in the 1990s super team the New Warriors, Firestar is pretty much a blank slate with little name recognition, sadly. But if Sony wanted to build a super-team around Spider-Man, there’s potential nostalgia value in reviving her.
- Who? Not the original Goblin, but Phil Ulrich, son of long-time supporting character (and Daily Bugle writer) Ben Ulrich, who used Norman Osborn’s costumed identity to fight crime in the mid ’90s.
- Movie Potential? Most definitely. Outside of Spider-Man, the Green Goblin is arguably the most recognizable character Sony has in its Spider-Man library, so why not try and build an additional movie series out of the character — especially with the in-built redemption of the identity arc available?
- Who? Another relatively recent creation, Jackpot was a super heroine with enhanced agility and limited invulnerability who just so happened to resemble Spider-Man’s former girlfriend, Mary-Jane Watson. In reality, it was a costumed identity shared by two women with no relation to MJ whatsoever.
- Movie Potential? Not so much. Despite her high-profile introduction during Marvel’s Spider-Man relaunch of 2008, the character has disappeared back into obscurity recently, and, like Alpha and Firestar, doesn’t really have enough individuality to feel like suitable movie material without a massive overhaul.
- Who? The astronaut career of J. Jonah Jameson’s son John took a very strange turn when he ended up on the moon, possessing a mystical ruby that turned him into a space werewolf with telepathic powers. The 1970s was … a weird time for Marvel Comics.
- Movie Potential? As absolutely insane as it sounds, there’s a certain charm to this material. If Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy finds an audience next year, there’s no reason why Man-Wolf couldn’t do the same.
Morbius, the Living Vampire
- Who? A vampire created through scientific means rather supernatural ones, Dr. Michael Morbius is driven by two things: His thirst for the life-force of others, and his desire for a cure for the former.
- Movie Potential? No one has really tried the superhero/horror crossover since the Blade movie series, and that one seemed to work out pretty well. With the right director and screenplay, a Morbius movie could work out just fine.
- Who? The Scarlet Spider was originally an alternate identity for Spider-Man in the 1990s when it was somewhat unclear whether Spider-Man was a clone of himself (again, don’t ask). It’s since been reclaimed as the permanent costumed identity of another clone of Peter Parker called Kaine.
- Movie Potential? Definitely not. Even putting aside the issue of whether the movie could manage to differentiate between Spider-Man and Scarlet Spider enough to make it a worthwhile project, the fact that Kaine is an identical clone of Peter Parker means that Andrew Garfield would have to pull double duty if both movie series continued.
- Who? A mercenary, bounty hunter and head of her own corporation who mixes protection work with jobs that have just a little bit more of a kick to them, Silver Sable is pretty much “What if the Black Widow was rich?”
- Movie Potential? While female action heroes tend to make movie studios nervous, a Silver Sable movie would allow Sony the chance to build out a franchise pitched somewhere between Agents of SHIELD and Mission: Impossible. Surely that’d be too tempting to pass up?
- Who? It depends on which one you mean. There have been multiple women claiming the identity over the last few decades (and multiple Spider-Girls, as well), but the concept remains the same: “Like Spider-Man, but a woman.”
- Movie Potential? We’ve not had any solo female superhero movies in the last few years, but this might be an interesting chance to expand the Spider-franchise, offering enough familiarity but also something to switch up expectations. It helps, of course, that there was a Spider-Woman cartoon that might help the nostalgic brand recognition.
- Who? Another character with multiple incarnations, Venom is essentially the combination of the alien parasite that pretended to be Spider-Man’s costume in the mid-80s and whoever he’s bonded with at the time. In recent years, that’s been long-time Spider-Man supporting castmember Flash Thompson, who’s used the opportunity to work as a super-powered spy for the government.
- Movie Potential? Along with Green Goblin, this seems like the most obvious choice for a spinoff, and the idea of a character with Venom’s capabilities in the employ of the government is enough of a hook to create stories that wouldn’t be a carbon copy of the Spider-Man movies.
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