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Sunday, December 15, 2013 

Who wants to watch movies starring supervillains?

Sony thinks there's an audience for supervillains in the spotlight, and according to the Hollywood Reporter, the screenwriters they've hired to work on their next Spider-Man entries are also planning spinoffs:
[Alex] Kurtzman, [Roberto] Orci and [Ed] Solomon will write Venom, centered on the black costumed villain that already made his big screen debut in the third Spider-Man movie of the Sam Raimi trillogy, that Kurtzman will direct.

Goddard, meanwhile, will write, with an eye to direct, The Sinister Six, which will focus on Spider-Man’s villains.
Will these projects ever be greenlighted? I hope not, but know that we can't overestimate their ability to realize it's a pretty weak move. It's bad enough this is becoming the norm in the comics. Now we have to see this in the movies too? Sometimes, Hollywood's idea that villains make a great focus gets way out of hand. Another serious drawback is that this could be aimed at the most insular addicts:
While the announcement of Sony's expansion of the Spider-Man movie franchise may have surprised some yesterday -- especially with its focus on the villains of the Spider-Man mythology, as opposed to other heroes -- there's a group that would've looked at the choice of Venom and Sinister Six as spin-offs and felt a sense of deja vu: Faithful fans of Spidey's comic book family. [...]

The current cinematic incarnation of Spider-Man is one clearly influenced by recent comics, but not those in the "regular" Marvel Universe -- instead, it's Brian Michael Bendis's Ultimate Spider-Man that the new movie series has its roots in, with specific plot points originating from that comic book's revision of the character's origin and backstory (Most noticeably, the scientist background of Peter Parker's father, and the conspiracy surrounding his disappearance).

Indeed, Peter Parker per se is actually absent from any ongoing Spider-Man comic series right now, with the exception of the series that adapts the Disney XD television series. In the Ultimate continuity, Parker died and was replaced by Miles Morales in a much-publicized storyline in 2011; in "regular" Marvel continuity, he was the victim of a brain swap with Doctor Octopus in another much-publicized storyline in 2012, with the current "Superior Spider-Man" being Octopus in Parker's body.

If the movies are intending to follow even a general story arc similar to that offered in either comic book continuity, then, things don't look too good for Andrew Garfield's on-screen alter ego (Of course, killing off Parker and replacing him with another character would allow for Garfield to move on from the franchise without requiring another reboot, so it's not impossible).
I don't think cinematic Peter is in any jeopardy, but building on Bendis's banality? A poor choice, and if the first rebooted movie was, it makes me feel all the more irked that I wasted my time on it. But if the movie Peter Parker isn't in any danger of being bumped, then the irony is that it suggests the film producers at least have the smarts to understand that the diversity experiments Bendis and company are obsessing themselves into the ground with will not work with a bigger movie audience.

Nevertheless, they made a pretty lame choice of material to build off of, and I don't see why they can't just look through the best stories of the 70s and 80s and see what makes for a great tale there.
If Sony has taken anything from Marvel's current Spider-Man output, it's as likely to be its demonstration of what properties are viable outside of the series as anything else. Considering that comic book fans would doubtlessly want to enjoy -- and be surprised by -- the movies as much as anyone else, surely that's the best case scenario, keeping the movie storylines as fresh and unpredictable for the hardcore followers as it is for the newest devotees.
If Sony took anything from the current output, they made a very big mistake, and if they're thinking of pandering to hardcore readers who don't care about quality, then they've made an even bigger one. Suppose they were to suddenly make a movie where Dr. Octopus robs Peter Parker of his body, a la the Dan Slott-penned comics? No way would I want to plunk down any money on that, knowing they doubtless got the idea from the current output, and it would make no difference whether Peter got his body back at the end. The kind of antics Slott sunk into don't even make for a tenth of good story mining for moviemakers. But Graeme McMillan, now a writer for THR and author of this piece, must think so, and isn't doing any good by legitimizing mindless addiction reading.

There may have once been a time when a movie starring supervillains could work, but under the current circumstances, it only comes off as embarrassingly cheap, and Spider-Man purists like myself can't support this mess Sony is planning. It's terrible this is what comics have come to serve as, but not in a good way, since the filmmakers are relying on the work of hack writers back in the comics.

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I don't see the point in a Sinister Six movie. I wouldn't mind seeing Spidey fight against them, but them having their own movie? No thanks. Same with Venom, although he was in the third film.

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