The cinematic world of superheroes and villains is in no ways planning on shrinking. Not for the next few years at least. It is simply going to get bigger and bigger, making its consumption for the audience a bit of a challenge. But we are no where near the saturation point for now. What Disney has achieved with its Marvel universe in films is simply astounding. Warner Bros. has also successfully brought back the characters of Batman and Superman and seems to be planning on following the Marvel model to create a Justice League film sometime in the future. Characters from Marvel comics are flourishing in the homes of other studios as well. 20th Century Fox has created a successful and still growing franchise on X-Men, lacing it with spin-offs and prequels. The studio is now working on rebooting the Fantastic Four as well. Another Marvel superhero has been the darling boy for a different studio, Sony Pictures. The superhero we are talking of is Spider-Man of course. Four films on the web-shooting hero so far, that has brought a booty of $3.2 billion in worldwide earnings. So Sony is now taking the next, and obvious, step, that of expanding the universe around Spider-Man. And how are they doing it? Well, they don’t have any other hero to bring out, so they are focussing on the villains of this universe. Spin-off movies have been announced on Venom and The Sinister Six, and this could be the first of its kind in the superhero genre where the villain is the focal point of the film.
We already know about Venom from Spider-Man 3. The black gooey alien thing which first stuck onto Spider-Man that led to the emergence of a darker side of the hero, before merging with Eddie Brock, played by Topher Grace, and turning him into Venom. The script for the film Venom is set to be written by the Star Trek duo Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci who are also involved with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and The Amazing Spider-Man 3, along with Ed Solomon whose known works include Men in Black and the recent film Now You See Me. Kurtzman is set to direct the film Venom. Casting decisions would be sometime in the future, but it is unlikely that Topher Grace would be recalled, as the studio would probably go with fresh faces as it has already rebooted the Spider-Man series. So we do know enough about Venom, but what is Sinister Six?
The name is hardly misleading. Sinister Six is a group of six sinister villains who have a common enemy, Spider-Man. In the world of comics they first appeared back in 1964. The group was founded by Doctor Octopus who contacted all those with who had a grudge with Spidey. Five villains responded and thus was formed the first team of Sinister Six : Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, and Sandman. The subsequent team-ups usually had a change or two in the member list, with the likes of Hobgoblin, Gog, and even Venom joining it at times. There have been further variations in the comics over the years, with a Sinister Seven emerging at one point of time, and a Sinister Twelve as well. While the original Sinister Six stuck to their agenda to try and defeat Spider-Man, the group has had its falling out in the subsequent period, and clashes within the group became common.
Creating a movie around the Sinister Six does drastically expand the Spider-Man movie universe. If Sony sticks to the original Six, then we have already been introduced to Doctor Octopus (played brilliantly by Alfred Molina in Spider-Man 2) and Sandman (played by Thomas Haden Church in Spider-Man 3), and Electro will be seen in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (played by Jamie Foxx) next year. There would be change of actors, and change in story lineups, with probably no linkages to the original trilogy. Else it would get tricky to keep Sandman in the group as he had already parted ways with Spider-Man on much better terms by the end of Spider-Man 3. Drew Gaddord is writing the script for the film and is likely to take on the directing responsibilities as well. Gaddord has been the one shouting ‘Action!’ only once before, and that was with the horror film The Cabin in the Woods. But his writing work makes for a much solid resume, having delivered much acclaimed work with Cloverfield and World War Z, and also a few episodes for Lost and some more TV shows. Sony has indeed brought on a strong writing team (which also includes Jeff Pinkner apart from the ones already mentioned) to carve out the next Spider-Man film and these spin-offs which would make it a bigger world for Spidey to live in.
One can be forgiven for having doubts about superhero films with multiple villains. Spider-Man 3, for one, could not manage the multiple villain scenario with any sort of assurance and the movie seemed to be bumbling around. Think of the Joel Schumacher Batman films of the 90s, and you would shudder. But if a superhero group could work in The Avengers, them why not a group of supervillains? There is no particular reason why it should not, apart from the fact that it needs a good treatment when it comes to script writing. The comics have managed to successfully weave multitude of villains in the same story line without compromising on the plot or the quality. So can a movie with a good team of writers. And that is exactly what Sony has begun with, and quite rightly so… a team of good writers. Building a movie like The Six Sinister requires a good understanding of what the audience need in terms of entertainment, and how to bring that out in a film about the bad guys. This would indeed be a screenplay that I would love to read!
The Amazing Spider-Man 3 has been given a June 2016 date. And Sony is all set to make the second half of this decade about Spider-Man with the films on Venom and The Sinister Six thrown in the mix. Early days yet to talk about release dates, but if the final screenplays could be frozen in the next year, we could very well be entering into production by 2015. The final group of villains chosen for The Sinister Six and the subsequent casting news would bring in some excitement indeed. Till then, we wait for a few more months before we can get all charged up about the impending battle between Spider-Man and Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Oh boy, won’t there be sparks flying in this one!?