We’re champing at the bit for Sony’s Venom, which looks like a ’90s-tastic take on one of Spider-Man’s most popular villains/antiheroes. And we’re already pumped, months from release, for the barrage of Spidey characters set to get the animation treatment in December’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. But why stop with the salivating symbiote and those cartoon characters? If you’re listening, Sony, we’ve picked 10 of our favorite of the wall-crawler’s supporting characters who more than deserve the live-action treatment.
Real Name: Silver Sablinova
Created By: Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #265
Powers/Abilities/Gear: Trained to peak physical condition, Silver is a master strategist, unparalleled mercenary group leader, and monarch of an eastern European country. She’s armed to the teeth with all kinds of weaponry, her self-styled shurikens, and a personal jetpack – all in silver.
Backstory: Silver Sable funds her country, Symkaria, by undertaking high-profile mercenary missions, which occasionally put Spider-Man in her crosshairs. A wise ruler, she’s allied herself with Spider-Man and has diplomatic ties to the ruler of neighboring country Latveria – Doctor Doom.
Why She’d Make a Great Movie: Silver Sable and her mercenary pack lend themselves to high-octane, guns-blazing action movies that would land somewhere between Atomic Blonde, John Wick, and The Expendables, all with sharp wit and insightful political commentary. Unfortunately, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s movie Silver and Black – featuring Silver Sable and Black Cat— was shelved, but rumor has it that Silver will make it to the…er, silver screen, eventually!
Real Name: Dr. Kevin Barry Trench
Created By: Terry Kavanaugh, Alex Saviuk, Joe Rubinstein
First Appearance: Web of Spider-Man #97
Powers/Abilities/Gear: Spawn-but-a-cyborg, Nightwatch has a “living costume” made of nanomachines and other cybernetic equipment that gives him super strength, speed, and endurance; invisibility; and shapeshifting abilities.
Backstory: Dr. Kevin Trench witnessed the first Nightwatch get killed by terrorists, but when he inspected the body, he found the corpse to be an older version of himself. Dr. Trench decided to fight destiny and became the “new” Nightwatch, where he became a recurring Spider-Man ally.
Why He’d Make a Great Movie: A high-tech, action-packed version of Predestination? Sign us the hell up! Nightwatch has the potential to be a Matrix-calibre cyberpunk tour de force, either arguing that it’s futile to run from destiny or that people decide their own fate. Either way, Spike Lee is in talks to direct a Nighwatch movie, which we hope is destined to happen.
Real Name: Michael Morbius
Created By: Roy Thomas and Gil Kane
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #101
Powers/Abilities/Gear: A vampire created by science, Morbius has a few vampiric powers, chiefly limited flight, super strength, night vision, and echolocation. While he’s immune to silver and holy artifacts, sunlight still fries him like bacon.
Backstory: A gifted biochemist, Michael Morbius’ attempts to cure his blood disorder turned him into a ravenous vampire. After fighting Spider-Man on a number of occasions, Morbius learned to control his bloodlust and only drink the blood of the worst criminals. Since then, he’s allied with the likes of Spidey, Ghost Rider, Blade, and Doctor Strange. Even still, it’s all too easy for him to lapse into a feeding frenzy.
Why He’d Make a Great Movie: We don’t get enough superhero horror movies, and it’s painfully easy to imagine a Morbius movie in the vein of other fun Sony franchises like Underworld and Resident Evil. Make Morbius a slasher taking down evil pharmaceutical-types, and you’re good to go. Hopefully, the Daniel Espinosa Morbius film starring Jared Leto leans hard into the scares.
Created By: J.M. DeMatteis and Sal Buscema
First Appearance: The Spectacular Spider-Man #178
Powers/Ability/Gear: Dr. Kafka is an expert psychiatrist specializing in the criminally insane.
Backstory: After losing her mother and sister to mental illnesses, Dr. Ashley Kafka went on to become a renowned psychiatrist. She founded the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally insane, a sanitarium for supervillains. She focuses on humane and occasionally experimental treatments.
Why She’d Make a Great Movie: It feels like the makers of superhero films have forgotten the fine art of the mid-budget movie, and how better to capitalize on that than with a version of The Silence of the Lambs with superheroes? Dr. Kafka could be a fish-out-of-water psychologist in a prison for criminally insane villains when a breakout forces her to track down a sadistic, super-powered madman. And let’s be honest: she deserves another shot after getting gender-flipped in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Real Name: Peter Parker
Created By: David Hine, Fabrice Sapolsky, and Carmine Di Giandomenico
First Appearance: Spider-Man Noir #1
Powers/Ability/Gear: Spider-Man Noir is a lot like classic Spidey – super strength, spider-sense, wall-crawling, web shooters, etc. etc. The difference is that he has no problem using revolvers and tommy guns to take out bad guys.
Backstory: Spider-Man Noir takes place in 1933, and Peter is a reporter working for Aunt May’s socialist newspaper. Norman Osborn is mutant gangster. The Vulture, a circus sideshow freak and cannibal, works for him along with period versions of Kraven the Hunter and Chameleon. The Black Cat owns a swanky nightclub of the same name. Dr. Octopus is a quadriplegic Nazi defector.
Why He’d Make a Great Movie: 1. There hasn’t been an action-noir superhero movie, especially not a period and style-accurate one. 2. CANNIBAL. VULTURE. Who doesn’t want to see that? Make this a hard R black-and-white movie with brutal fighting, bone-rattling gunplay, and smoky atmosphere, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Nicolas Cage is set to voice Spider-Man Noir in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. That’s cool, but the character deserves a solo, live-action outing, too.
Created By: J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita, Jr.
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #30
Powers/Ability/Gear: Morlun is an unstoppable death machine of nearly unlimited strength, endurance, speed, and regenerative abilities. He is immortal and sustains himself on the essences of superpowered beings.
Backstory: Morlun is an “Inheritor,” a race of inter-dimensional vampires that is locked in eternal combat with “The Master Weaver,” the purest form of Spider-Man in the multiverse (crazy complicated, we know). Morlun and his family travel between dimensions dining on the various incarnations of Spider-Men (and women!), working their way to the center.
Why He’d Make a Great Movie: There’s a darn good chance that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will involve Morlun, given that he’s essential to the 2014 Spider-Verse event story, but Morlun’s introductory story in 2001 was terrifying: The relentless inevitability of The Terminator meets the cultured grandeur of Dracula with the high-flying action of Spider-Man 2. Now that’s a movie we’d love to see.
Real Name: Elias Wirtham
Created By: David Michelinie and Erik Larsen
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #342
Powers/Abilities/Gear: As his name implies, Cardiac is a physician and master heart surgeon. He wears vibranium-laced armor and uses beta energy from his prosthetic heart to power a hang glider and a staff that fires concussive blasts.
Backstory: Hate medical bills? So does Cardiac. When his brother died from not being able to afford a life-saving procedure, Cardiac became a medical Robin Hood, stealing supplies and equipment from elite hospitals to provide black-market surgeries to those who truly need it. Since then, he’s become a Spider-Man ally and has even worked with Peter Parker at Parker Industries.
Why He’d Make a Great Movie: Cardiac is the hero of the 99 percent, offering the Sony Spider-Verse a hero with deeply sympathetic goals and motivations. We picture the movie as a combination House and The Winter Soldier – with Big Pharma as Hydra.
Real Name: Kaine Parker
Created By: Terry Kavanagh and Steven Butler
First Appearance: Web of Spider-Man #119
Powers/Abilities/Gear: If Spider-Man has the proportional strength of a Spider, Kaine has that of a tarantula. He has all of Spidey’s moves, but better. He’s stronger and more durable, his spider-sense is full-blown precognition flashes, and he has to power to genetically disfigure anyone he touches.
Backstory: Kaine was the first clone of Spider-Man in the infamous Clone Saga arc. Suffering from cellular degeneration and disfigurement, Kaine’s creator considered him a failure and cast him away. Embittered and tormented by another Peter Parker’s memories, Kaine longed to kill Spider-Man and assume his life. Kaine’s innate goodness eventually won over his brutality and he made peace with his existence.
Why He’d Make a Great Movie: Imagine Spider-Man as a Frankenstein, and you’ve got a perfect Kaine movie. It’s rife with pathos, drama, and metaphysical angst as a rejected creature learns to love himself. Eventually, he’d seek revenge on his creator before they loosed an even worse monstrosity on the city. Or so we imagine.
Real Names: Prodigy, Ritchie Gilmore; Ricochet, Johnny Gallo; Dusk, Cassie St. Commons; Hornet, Eddie McDonough
Created By: Todd Dezago, Tom DeFalco, Howard Mackie
First Appearances: Prodigy, The Spectacular Spider-Man #257; Ricochet, Amazing Spider-Man #434; Dusk, Peter Parker: Spider-Man #91; Hornet, The Sensational Spider-Man #27
Powers/Abilities/Gear: Prodigy wears a suit that provides superhuman strength, speed, endurance, and vast leaping abilities. Ricochet is an acrobatic antihero armed with loads of shuriken-discs and a smart mouth. Dusk wears an inter-dimensional cloak that allows teleportation between shadows and limited flight. Hornet wears a robotic suit equipped with a jetpack and loads of on-board weapons.
Backstory: In the Identity Crisis storyline, Spidey evaded a manhunt by disguising himself as new heroes on the block, all with different personalities. When the police realized Spidey’s innocence, he gave the suits away to four young aspiring heroes who’d go on to have adventures of their very own.
Why They’d Make a Great Movie: Slingers doesn’t need the Identity Crisis backstory to work as a pre-packaged superhero team movie. Just blend Avengers with the The Breakfast Club, and you get Slingers, a story about outsiders who discover strange powers that make them feel, for the very first time, like they fit in and like they matter.
Real Names: Boomerang, Fred Myers; Beetle, Janice Lincoln; Overdrive, unknown; Shocker, Herman Schultz; Speed Demon, James Sanders
Created By: Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber
First Appearance: Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1
Powers/Abilities/Gear: Boomerang is a former baseball pitcher with an arsenal of deadly boomerangs (and is not the Suicide Squad guy). Beetle wears a battle suit giving her flight, energy blasts, and makes her bulletproof. Mostly. Overdrive can make any vehicle better. Like turning a remote controlled car into a formula racer. Or a rowboat into a speedboat. Really. Shocker dresses like a mattress and has vibration powers – and knows he’s a walking punchline. Speed Demon runs super freakin’ fast, but generally doesn’t feel like it.
Backstory: Initially, they were the Sinister Six, but people kept leaving the team. They weren’t smart enough to be the Sinister Syndicate, exactly, but they were sure that if they pulled off the greatest heist of all time, someone would take them seriously. That heist involved the severed head of a cyborg gangster. Because of course it did.
Why They’d Make a Great Movie: This team of bad guys is less Suicide Squad, more Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Terminally incompetent and deluded, the full run of Superior Foes of Spider-Man is a pre-packaged Guy Ritchie or Coen Bros. movie just waiting to happen, complete with self-aware banter, madcap action, all kinds of bad decisions, and a cyborg gangster’s head.
Those are just some of the Spider-Man spin-off films we can conjure up in our imaginations Who are your favorite Spidey characters? Did we miss one of your favorites? Sound off in the comments.
Venom is in theaters October 5