Sony’s trailer for the upcoming Morbius featured a few unexpected moments, with both indirect and seemingly direct ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or, at the very least, continuations of narrative hooks that both studios agreed to before their tumultuous short-term break-up last summer. Either way, it’s clear the closing moments of Spider-Man: Far From Home matter in the world of Morbius and, at least to our eyes, that probably direct tie to the MCU late in the trailer means Sony will finally make good on its plan to do a film about the Sinister Six, an idea the studio postponed when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 underperformed.
So let’s take a look at this latest wrinkle in the Sony Spider-Verse and what these call-outs in the Morbius trailer mean for the studio’s emerging superhero world.
(Photo by Sony Pictures)
If taken at face value, the post-credits stinger at the end of 2018’s Venom that introduced a preview scene from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (“Meanwhile, in another universe…”) implied that the two films took place in the same multiverse. The latter film then introduced audiences to the notion of multiple realities where a panoply of Spider-people (many of them alternative versions of Peter Parker) take center stage to defend their world — or corner of Queens — from threats small and large.
As a science-fiction concept, multiverses are a wonderful device. They allow you to keep all your work as “true” in a canonical sense while also allowing you ways to change up those ideas or revise key components. And considering the Spider-Man seen in Far From Home and the other Marvel Studios films (played by Tom Holland) is Sony’s third attempt at Peter Parker, a multiverse is the best way to tell continuity-conscious viewers that all of the films are valid, even if they don’t tell the same story.
Of course, you could always do what the Bond films did for decades and ignore such concerns entirely. But that’s beside the point.
In terms of Sony’s most recent attempt to launch its own cinematic universe and continue their relationship with Marvel Studios, the Spider-Verse allows them almost absolute freedom. Venom can exist as a standalone movie, or it can easily fit into a world where Peter and Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) crossed paths at one time — there are those oblique references to Eddie’s problems in New York, after all. Morbius, meanwhile, is equally free to name-check Eddie or ignore him in favor of clear ties to the MCU Spider-Man and his current troubles. At this point, what is “true” between the three films is open to conjecture. Morbius could be a secret MCU film or it could be the first look at a Sony’s plans for Peter after he leaves the MCU in a couple of years.
(Photo by Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Thanks in part to its success, many have forgotten just how risky Venom was when it released. Launching a film centered on a prominent superhero antagonist had never been pulled off before. And let’s face it, Venom‘s cheesy tone — while highly entertaining at times — still left some people feeling like the experiment didn’t work. But for Sony, Venom’s worldwide box-office take was all the proof it needed to say it could make Spider-Man movies as strong and as successful as Marvel.
And, as it happens, the film’s success also proved the studio’s plan for films featuring the foes of Spider-Man — a plan born in the wake of 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man — was also viable.
As the story goes, from 2012 onward, Sony began toying with films based around the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, the Vulture, Kraven the Hunter, Sandman, and Mysterio. And just like Marvel’s Avengers, the leads of the six films would join forces in Sinister Six — a film based on the villains’ coalition in the Spider-Man comics. The group first joined forces in 1964’s The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 and would eventually see characters like Hobgoblin, Shocker, Lizard, Venom, Electro, and others subbing in for one or more of the original group. The Sinister Six also, on occasion, expanded to seven, 12, and even 66 members — which is when Morbius finally became part of the team.
(Photo by Sony Pictures)
Sometime in 2014, The Cabin the Woods‘ Drew Goddard submitted a Sinister Six script draft to Sony, with then-president Amy Pascal telling reporters she was waiting for Goddard — who would later be attached to 20th Century Fox’s planned X-Force film — to direct the picture. Much of the characters’ iconic gear made its debut in a brief scene in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, although it was said Goddard’s Sinister Six was meant to feature the classic line-up with Doc Ock as their leader. The script was also said to feature the characters redeeming themselves, but for some of them, fighting Spider-Man is part of their nature. By this point, the plan changed from making six individual films to spinning off Sinister Six‘s well-received characters into their own films.
Then The Amazing Spider-Man 2 failed to meet expectations, unfortunately, and garnered a reputation as a dud. Sony’s plan was put on hold, but one film in its “foes of Spider-Man” concept went forward: Venom. And even though Sony reached a point where it felt better off working with Marvel Studios, it never completely abandoned Sinister Six or its own series of films.
(Photo by Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Even as Spider-Man made his way to Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming, Sony let some of their Spider-Man film concepts simmer. One of these was Silver & Black. Intended to feature sometimes friends of Spider-Man, namely Black Cat (a cat burglar) and Silver Sable (an amoral mercenary), the crew included Cloak & Dagger pilot director Gina Prince-Bythewood and writers like Westworld‘s Lisa Joy, Marvel Comics’ Christopher Yost, and Captain Marvel‘s Geneva Robertson-Dworet (alongside writer Lindsey Beer). Reportedly, the film would have taken some cues from Homecoming, but a creative impasse led to it being cancelled in 2018, and the lead characters split into their own projects. Presumably, the individual Black Cat and Silver Sable films are still in development and may flesh out the emerging Spider-Verse with more allies for Peter to call upon when he inevitably faces the Sinister Six.
But here’s where things get interesting. As recently as 2018, Goddard said it was likely Sony would eventually use his script as a basis for Sinister Six, which means the studio has a sense of direction even as it substitutes Morbius (Jared Leto) for, say, Mysterio (who is presumably dead in both the MCU and the Spider-Verse). And from the Morbius trailer, it definitely feels like there is momentum toward an Avengers-style film focusing on the villains — an idea strong enough that it’s surprising Marvel or Warner Bros. didn’t think of it first.
Besides Sinister Six and the Black Cat and Silver Sable films, Sony is also developing a movie based on Madame Web. Created by Denny O’Neil and artist John Romita Jr., the character was introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #210 as a blind and paralyzed precognitive mutant who used a sophisticated web-themed mobility device to get around and offer Spider-Man a heads-up on various crimes and misdeeds. Writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless took on the task of writing the script in September of 2019, but little has been heard from the project since. The same is true for Silk, based on the Spider-Man character created by Dan Slott and Umberto Ramos. Featuring a Korean-American protagonist with Spider-powers and a love of gadgets, the project seemingly has not moved forward since 2018.
As early as 2017, Sony was toying with the idea of a film centering on Kraven the Hunter. Born Sergei Kravinoff to Russian aristocrats, the big game hunter came to New York in The Amazing Spider-Man #15 to assist his half brother, the Chameleon, in taking down the webhead. It went poorly, but Kraven walked away from the encounter believing Spider-Man to be the most dangerous game. He would return time and again to hunt Peter. As of August 2018, the film was in some active development with writer Richard Wenk reportedly on board to write the script, but as with the other projects, it’s unclear if it will be ready for production anytime soon.
And not to be forgotten, Sony is working on a sequel to 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Presumably, the film will take place on the same Earth where Peter Parker is dead and Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) has taken his place. But it’s also possible the series’ established fun with different realities may allow a member of the live-action Sony world to meet Miles. That film is currently scheduled for release on April 8th 2022.
(Photo by ©Columbia Pictures/©Marvel Studios)
With all of this information, we begin to see a picture of a Spider-Verse with the MCU Peter Parker at the center of it. It all begins with Morbius, which establishes a live-action Spider-Verse world in which Peter is wanted for Mysterio’s murder, as indicated by some graffiti art in the trailer. The title character goes on his journey of self-discovery and, at some point, gets recruited by Adrian Toomes — who serves as an antagonist to Nick Fury. If the film is successful commercially and critically, it’s easy to imagine Toomes returning at the end of Venom 2 to recruit Eddie or Carnage (Woody Harrelson).
In this set-up, Sony acknowledges the events of the two MCU Spider-Man films while also establishing their own continuity. It creates a situation in which characters can talk about Peter without him being on camera, which, as seen in films like The Third Man, can build effective anticipation.
Where Sony goes from there all depends on Morbius. If it’s a smash hit, one could easily see Kraven the Hunter rushing into production. Perhaps Madame Web or Silk follows it while Spider-Man finishes his commitments in the MCU — namely a third solo film and an appearance in an Avengers-style team-up movie. Presumably, the latter would act as a send-off to Peter and Tom Holland in the MCU, who would immediately resurface in the next convenient Spider-Verse film and then in Sinister Six, where he is, oddly enough, the antagonist. But one imagines Black Cat, Silver Sable, Madame Web, and Silk will help him establish a team of his own.
And, amazingly, the whole thing would be viable. So far, only Disney has pulled off sustained cinematic universes with Star Wars and Marvel — arguably, Warner Bros. may have done it as well, though the DC film universe keeps getting rebooted. By embracing all of its messy development, Sony may be in the best position to plan and execute a six-film meta-arc. The results could be quite exciting.
Well, assuming Morbius works, of course.