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The story behind every Spider-Verse movie being made

Since launching the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008's Iron Man, Marvel has dominated the box office. But long before Disney and Marvel's MCU ran over 20 movies strong, Sony secured the rights to arguably Marvel's most famous character, Spider-Man, and launched a trilogy in 2002 (starring Tobey Maguire) that made more than a billion dollars. The studio rebooted the series in 2012 with Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man and again in 2016, this time sharing Tom Holland's version of the character with Marvel via a co-financing deal that allowed the character to appear in MCU team-up epics. That deal, as you may have heard, came to an end in the summer of 2019, leaving future films in the Spider-brand once again solely in the hands of Sony.

Sony currently owns the film rights to more than 900 Marvel characters — a complicated laundry list of Spider-Man properties that Sony is using as the basis of the ever-expanding "Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters." The "Spider-verse" is still in its early stages, but Sony has ambitious and voluminous plans. Most of these projects are still just starting the development process, but we already have plenty of details about what the studio has in store. Here's the story behind every promised Sony Spider-Verse movie.

Venom 2

The first entry in Sony's elaborate plan for an interconnected world of Spider-Man-based films: the 2018 blockbuster Venom. While Topher Grace first played the role on-screen in 2007's Spider-Man 3, acclaimed British actor Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dark Knight Rises) stepped into the character of journalist Eddie Brock, a man who finds himself the host of a parasitic alien "symbiote" that turns him into a super-violent villain/antihero named Venom. 

Critics were split on the quality of this odd film, which often played like a dark mismatched-buddy-comedy in which both roles were played by the same guy at the same time. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times called it "a tone-deaf, uneven, and maddeningly dumb clunker," while Ryan Syrek of The Reader called it a "wickedly watchable experience" due to "Hardy's fearless lunacy." More more important to Sony, however, is the fact that Venom grossed $850 million at the worldwide box office. 

Filmgoers have an appetite for Venom, and the character will return in Venom 2... at the very least. Hardy mentioned in 2018 that he's contracted for a trilogy of Venom movies. Venom screenwriter Jeff Pinkner confirmed Discussing Film in December that he was already at work on the second installmen. In August 2019, Andy Serkis signed up to direct. As for a release date, Venom 2 is highly likely to be the mysterious "untitled Marvel sequel" that Sony has penciled in for October 2020 — exactly two years after the debut of its predecessor.

Black Cat

Felicia Hardy, a.k.a. the Black Cat, has been a recurring foe/romantic interest for Peter Parker ever since her first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #194 in 1979. A notorious cat burglar (get it?), Black Cat has the power to alter probability and luck, not unlike Domino from Deadpool 2. She made a brief, out-of-costume appearance (portrayed by Felicity Jones) in Amazing Spider-Man 2, but hasn't been seen suited up on the big screen yet.

Initially, Sony announced that Black Cat would be getting a team-up movie with fellow occasional Spider-Man ally Silver Sable. Tentatively titled Silver and Black and set to be directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees) with a street date of February 8, 2019, Sony pulled the project from its release calendar in 2018, in favor of solo movies for Silver Sable and Black Cat. According to Variety, Prince-Blythewood will "likely" no longer direct but will stay on as a producer for both individual movies. As for her replacement, all that's been reported is that Sony really wants to go for a female director.

With all these recent shakeups, it's understandable that the Black Cat movie doesn't have an official release date yet.

Silver Sable

The other half of the canceled Silver and Black project, Silver Sable is also headed to the movies with her own announced solo film. When she first showed up in Amazing Spider-Man #265 with her shiny chrome armor and "you wanted the best, you got the best" hairdo, Silver Sable was about as '80s as you could get without starting a glam-pop band. She's an assassin and mercenary from Eastern Europe, wielding guns, knives, and various other accouterments with deadly accuracy. Like many characters in the Spider-Man mythos, she changes allegiances pretty frequently, acting as both friend and foe to the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler.

This is another project with few details to report at the moment, as there have been no casting announcements or hints as to who exactly is making the thing, apart from would-be Silver and Black director Gina Prince-Bythewood signing up to produce. As with Black Cat, the release date is also up in the air.

Morbius

Spider-Man characters have often been known for their complicated relationships with mortality, and Morbius the Living Vampire is no exception. A scientist working to cure himself of a deadly blood disorder, Michael Morbius accidentally sciences himself into a vampire with radiation, as you do. Utilizing his scientific expertise and his newly acquired array of supernatural powers, the character went on to find some success as a tortured antihero, fighting his lust for blood while bringing vampiric justice to the night. Also, according to an interview with co-creator Gil Kane, he was modeled to look like Jack Palance. It was a different time.

First announced in 2017, production on Morbius (no "living vampire" modifier) began in February 2019. Director Daniel Espinosa (Life, Safe House) directs from a script by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, the creative minds behind Netflix's recent Lost in Space reboot and 2014's Dracula Untold. Oscar winner Jared Leto stars as the bloodthirsty protagonist, while Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown) costars as his friend and fellow vampire Loxias Crown. Tyrese Gibson of the Fast & Furious franchise portrays an FBI agent out to catch the titular vampire. Morbius hits movie theaters on July 31, 2020.

Kraven the Hunter

One of the OG Spider-Man baddies, Kraven the Hunter first popped up in Amazing Spider-Man #15 all the way back in 1964. He goes back so far, he was even a member of the original Sinister Six (Spider-Man's "Rogue's Gallery" of famous villains), making him the oldest Marvel character currently projected to get his own Spider-Verse movie. A Russian expat with a unique flair for clothes made out of lion faces, Kraven is a big game hunter obsessed with proving that he can kill anything — particularly Spider-Man. His main claim to fame was his starring role in a story arc called Kraven's Last Hunt, which sees Kraven burying Spider-Man and taking his identity for himself.

Unfortunately, backstory on the character is just about all we have on Sony's Kraven the Hunter movie. Not a lot is known about the upcoming film adaptation, except that The Equalizer 2 and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back writer Richard Wenk was hired to write the script back in August 2018. A couple of months later, Wenk teased a very special appearance in the film, claiming in an interview with Discussing Film that Kraven will "come face-to-face with Spider-Man."

Silk

A relatively recent addition to the Spider-Man universe, Silk (because "Spider-Girl" and "Spider-Woman" were taken and "Female-Identifying Spider Person" is a mouthful) has established herself as a pretty rad character. In a great big retcon, it was revealed that Peter Parker's high school classmate Cindy Moon was bitten by the very same radioactive spider as Peter, granting her the ability to shoot organic webs from her fingers and do, in large part, whatever a spider can.

While Cindy Moon has briefly appeared in both Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War (portrayed by Tiffany Espensen), it's unclear whether she'll continue to play the role once the character is given her own movie, which would mark the first Korean American superhero in a western film. Little development has been reported on the project, aside from the major announcement in 2018 that longtime Sony producer and Spider-properties shepherd Amy Pascal was attached to the project. But then Pascal left Sony in May 2019, ending a 30-year stint with the company and potentially leaving the Silk movie in jeopardy — or at the very least, delayed.

Jackpot

First appearing on the comics page in 2008, the mysterious vigilante character called Jackpot looked like she just might be the secret alter ego of Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker's longtime love and sometimes wife. Why? Well, she shares M.J.'s prominent red hair, along with the possibly telling moniker. One of the most iconic moments in Spider-Man lore remains Mary Jane's entrance with the line "Face it, tiger, you just hit the jackpot."

No dice, true believers, for there was no clue-following jackpot reveal here. Jackpot's true identity was later revealed to be Sarah Ehret, a scientist, mom, and all-around super-strong crimefighting boss. Much like its title character when she first showed up in Spider-Man's friendly neighborhood, the details behind the Jackpot movie are pretty mysterious. Sony is still in the process of finding a screenwriter for the project, so it's safe to assume it'll be a while before the red-headed supermom makes it to a theater near you.

Nightwatch

A product of the totally extreme '90s, Nightwatch started out as barrel-chested scientist Dr. Kevin Trench. When he witnessed the death of a mysterious crimefighter on a New York rooftop, Trench was astonished to discover that the hero was actually an older version of himself. Trench then experienced the whole superhero self-doubt phase that Marvel characters can't usually avoid, trying to escape his destiny. You know how it is. One thing led to another, and he soon donned his mysterious-dead-older-self's costume and became the superhero known as Nightwatch.  

Another embryonic Sony Pictures/Marvel project, there isn't much that's been made public about the Nightwatch movie. Rumor has it, however, that Spike Lee might follow up his Oscar-winning BlacKkKlansman with a directing gig on what would be his first comic book movie. Meanwhile, Cheo Hodari Coker has some dark, New York-based superhero experience to his credit. The former Luke Cage showrunner is reportedly a top candidate to write the Nightwatch screenplay.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2

Who would've thought that the first superhero movie to ever win a "best film" category at the Academy Awards would be an animated Spider-Man project that proudly presented comics' long obsession with complicated multiple universes and timelines to a mainstream audience? Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is just that special of a movie, winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, outranking every other Spider-Man movie on Rotten Tomatoes, and earning nearly $200 million at the American box office.

The world clearly wants to see more trips through spider-time and spider-space with the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man and his friends Spider-Woman, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Ham, and all the rest. Fortunately, the world is going to get that sequel, courtesy of Sony. The studio announced big plans for the animated sector of its Marvel slate in November 2018, before Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse had even hit theaters. Joaquim Dos Santos, a veteran of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Netflix's Voltron revival, signed on to direct the film, with Wonder Woman 1984 and Zombieland 2 writer David Callaham handling the script. The film is scheduled to hit theaters on April 8, 2022.

Spider-Women spin-off

One notable aspect of Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters is the commit to inclusivity, both on-screen and behind the scenes. Superhero movies shouldn't just be about (or for) white guys, and the Spider-Verse is striving for more diversity. While Sony is aiming to put women and people of color front-and-center with projects like Black Cat, Silver Sable, and Nightwatch, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse already spotlighted a biracial teen superhero in Miles Morales, alongside a stand-out female lead in Spider-Woman (or Spider-Gwen, as she's more casually known).

The latter is now set to get her own animated spinoff. Before Into the Spider-Verse hit theaters, Sony announced that it had started work on a film about three generations of Spider women. Spider-Gwen will return from the first movie, assisted in her adventures by another Spider-Woman (alias Jessica Drew) and Silk (Cindy Moon). Sony has hired Bek Smith (of CBS's Zoo) to pen the screenplay and DC animation veteran Lauren Montgomery to direct.

Madame Web

In September 2019, Collider broke the news that Sony started development on a Madame Web film. The character, who debuted in an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man in 1980, has powerful psychic abilities which she uses to advise and direct not just Spider-Man, but various characters who call themselves Spider-Woman. She's also a blind, very elderly woman with neuromuscular problems who is thus confined to a network of life-giving machines that just so happen to look like a spiderweb. Also, her real name is Cassandra Web... get it?

Production on Madame Web (as it will presumably be titled) hasn't even started yet, so there's no initial news about casting, a director, or producers yet. Apparently happy with the work they did on forthcoming Spider-Verse film Morbius, Sony hired that movie's writers Matt Sazama and Buck Sharpless to weave a screenplay out of this story, likely the first big comic book movie about an immobile senior citizen mentor to spider-related superheroes.