Okay, so what the hell is Sony doing with their Spider-Man property? Mysterio and Kraven the Hunter standalone films? Setting up Carnage and Venom in a single movie?
There’s a reason that the Marvel Cinematic Universe works and the Sony “Spiderverse” doesn’t. It’s that there’s enough characters in the MCU to justify spin-off and standalone trilogies. With regards to the Spiderverse, as far as I’m concerned, there’s only one character that the movies can revolve around. Maybe two, if they can build a string of films around Miles Morales.
The antagonists in the Spider-Man comics are rich and diverse with history and suspenseful arcs. However, if they think they create a meaningful story around a character like Mysterio, they are out of their mind. Spider-Man’s adversaries such as Mysterio or Kraven the Hunter, work with the stipulation that they are opposing Spider-Man. Having them work alone is like watching an episode of The Walking Dead. There is NO goal! Listen, I love watching my anti-heroes on TV, such as Frank Underwood or Walter White, work their way to the top and I love to hate them! They’re great characters because they operate in a grey area, where it’s hard to root for them, but I just inexplicably want them to succeed.
On the other hand, these film-adaptations of Spider-Man’s antagonists do not work under the umbrella of “anti-hero”. Don’t be mistaken, these villains are villains for a reason. While they should have their character motivations, they shouldn’t be redeemable in any way. This whole situation reminds of how Warner Bros. handled Deadshot in Suicide Squad. Here’s a murderer, who kills people for money, that you should feel bad for and care for because he has a daughter to take care of.
I’m gonna backtrack a little here and say Sony could make a version of Mysterio or Kraven that we, as the audience, can sympathize for – and maybe even relate to, by a degree. That being said, I don’t see how you could create a story around these characters without including Spider-Man. What would the conflict be of this theoretical film? Quentin Beck runs around New York City performing magic tricks until he realizes he could use them to rob banks. Okay, then what? Is this going to be a Carnage-Venom situation where, yes, Mysterio is evil, but there’s someone MORE evil than him running around? I’m going to give a hard sell on that concept.
I somewhat miss the days when we thought that the concept of an Aunt May movie were crazy. Now, I’m thinking about it, and at least in that scenario, we’d have a character we want to root for. And hell, maybe an Aunt May movie could contain references to the bigger picture at SHIELD – like a cameo from Peggy Carter or Howard Stark. That hypothetical picture would integrate itself well into the MCU and make the MCU stronger as a whole.
Speaking of the MCU – I’d love an answer on if Venom takes place within it. Over the past week, it seems Amy Pascal and Kevin Feige aren’t on the same page, and no one knows what’s going on. While I don’t know this for sure, I’ve read a great theory on Reddit about the whole situation: It could be possible that Avengers: Infinity War has a hint towards the Venom movie, either in a post-credits scene or an easter egg, and Feige was confused during the interview because he was shocked that Pascal spilled the beans. While I’d LOVE for that to be the case, it still leaves Pascal as looking like an idiot.
With everything being said, I love Spider-Man. He’s my favorite superhero and I love his entire rogues gallery. I’d like nothing more than to see Mysterio and Kraven on the big screen, but I just want to see it done right. If I’m being optimistic, these adaptations have a chance to work, but Sony’s history at handling the property since 2014 has left me with concern. Hopefully I’m wrong, and these movies turn out to be great. As a Spidey-fan, I couldn’t ask for anything more.