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Gina Prince-Bythewood Gives An Update On Silver Sable And Black Cat Projects - Exclusive

For Silver Sable and Black Cat, the journey from the pages of Marvel Comics to the screen has been a long and still-incomplete one. In March 2017, it was announced that Sony Pictures was developing a film featuring both Marvel Comics characters. Two months later, a director — the acclaimed filmmaker behind Love & Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees – signed on to the project, then officially titled Silver & Black. Sadly, Sony wound up scrapping plans for the team-up movie in August 2018. Now, would-be Silver & Black director Gina Prince-Bythewood has given an overview and update on the characters, exclusively to Looper.

This year, Prince-Bythewood became the first Black woman to direct a comic book action film with The Old Guard, Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and now streaming on Netflix. But before she made the Charlize Theron-starring hit, Prince-Bythewood would have introduced Silver Sable and Black Cat into Sony's Spider-Man-centric corner of the Marvel Universe.

"I've been off of [Silver & Black] for two years, enveloped in The Old Guard, so at some point, absolutely, we'll reengage," she told Looper. 

Prince-Bythewood then confirmed that she remains on board as a producer on what has now become two separate projects. As she explained, "All I know is, they want to divvy them up. I actually loved the two together. And the script that I wrote, I thought was really dope." 

The storied history of Silver Sable and Black Cat

Marvel's Black Cat made her first appearance in the pages of July 1979's The Amazing Spider-Man #194. Legendary writer Marv Wolfman initially conceived Black Cat (whose real name is Felicia Hardy) as a nemesis for Spider-Woman, but he and artist Dave Cockrum retooled her characterization before her eventual debut.

An expert cat burglar and hand-to-hand fighter who has served as foil to, ally of, and love interest for Spider-Man over the years, Felicia Hardy has appeared on numerous animated series alongside New York's famous wall-crawler. She nearly made it to live action in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2, and in what would have been the filmmaker's fourth franchise installment, which would have starred John Malkovich as the Vulture. In a 2013 interview with Vulture (the media outlet), Raimi revealed his top choice for Felicia would have been future Catwoman actress Anne Hathaway. "I loved what she was doing with the auditions for Spider-Man 4," he said.

In The Amazing-Spider Man 2, the sequel to Marc Webb's 2012 franchise reboot intended to set the table for a number of Sony-controlled, Spider-Man-related characters, Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) played a character named Felicia Hardy, though audiences never had the chance to see her take on the Black Cat mantle.

As for Silver Sable, she made her own first appearance in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man as well – albeit a few years after Black Cat, in June 1985's issue #265. Created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz, Sable (aka Silver Sablinova) is a mercenary whose fighting and weapons prowess has led her to team-ups and skirmishes with a variety of Marvel characters, including Spidey, Daredevil, and Deadpool. Like Black Cat, Silver Sable has also appeared on a number of animated Spider-Man series.

The scrapped Silver & Black movie

Prince-Bythewood was excited about the opportunity to helm Silver & Black, which presumably would have been set in the same MCU-adjacent universe as Tom Hardy's Venom and Jared Leto's forthcoming flick MorbiusIn a 2017 interview with Vulture, she said Silver & Black was "so up my alley, in terms of these two female characters and who they are and what they're about." She added that the film would be "the perfect way for me to dive into the Marvel universe, to focus on these two women who I really respect."

A handful of writers had worked on the Silver & Black script before Prince-Bythewood reworked it. Rewrites caused Sony to postpone filming indefinitely, effectively erasing the film's original February 2019 release date. Prince-Bythewood instead entered the Marvel Universe with Cloak & Dagger, which aired for two seasons on Freeform. She directed the pilot and served as executive producer on the show.

Cinematographer Tami Reiker — who collaborated with Prince-Bythewood on Beyond the Lights in 2014 and later on The Old Guard – filmed the Cloak & Dagger pilot. The series was technically set in the MCU proper, but, like its Netflix and ABC counterparts, the story connections to the Marvel Studios films often seemed tenuous.

The future of Silver Sable and Black Cat

Prince-Bythewood's involvement with Silver & Black was first formally announced on May 25, 2017 — the same day Wonder Woman had its premiere in Los Angeles following its worldwide debut in Shanghai ten days earlier. As Prince-Bythewood shared with Looper, she sought advice from Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, first for Silver & Black and later once she'd moved on to The Old Guard. "Patty has been so great. I met with her a couple of times, actually first when I got Silver & Black [...] and then [we] met two more times with The Old Guard," she told us. "Little things that she told me to look out for, to protect yourself, were really, really helpful."

While that advice won't apply to the Silver & Black movie, Prince-Bythewood remains optimistic and passionate about helping bring to life separate projects centered on Silver Sable and Black Cat. In April 2020, she told the Hollywood Reporter there'd been discussions about moving Silver Sable and Black Cat to television instead of film. Whatever happens, she remains attached as producer.

As excited as Prince-Bythewood was to introduce the characters to the screen in a single movie, she acknowledges the advantage of Silver Sable and Black Cat having their own introductions in movies or television series first — particularly in terms of both building the characters' backstories and audiences' expectation and excitement to see them together. "That is true," she told Looper when addressing the advantage of separate introductions that lead to a collaboration. "Give them each their [own] shine and then bring them together."

Prince-Bythewood's The Old Guard is now streaming on Netflix.