Tom Holland’s Spider-Man may be safely in the MCU for now. But Sony owns the rights to about 900 Marvel characters they plan to use in a live-action Spider-verse. After the breakout success of the animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Sony established a multi-verse of Spider-people and characters related to them. This means they can use characters like Tom Hardy’s Venom, which just landed Andy Serkis as a director, and Jared Leto’s Morbius in standalone films. How these disparate projects will connect, if at all, is a question on fans’ minds. The end of Venom featured a post-credits promo for Into the Spider-Verse, which is how the early MCU built its connective tissue. Yet, even if the films remain discrete, a live-action Spider-verse may be coming to television.
Lord and Miller Shaping the Live-Action Spider-Verse in Secret
This week the television industry gathers for the Television Critics Association event. Networks, studios, and creators sell their latest projects to the public. Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the duo responsible for The Lego Movie, signed a large overall deal with Sony recently. They will both produce a sequel to the animated film, spin-offs, and television projects. Miller said he couldn’t reveal much but promised that at least the television series would be connected in some way.
There are details yet on which characters are included in the Sony and Marvel deal, though it’s only characters who are related to Spider-Man. This doesn’t just mean his rogues’ gallery, featuring characters like Venom, Kraven the Hunter, and the Sinister Six. Other characters like the vampire Morbius, the international mercenary Silver Sable, and the Catwoman clone the Black Cat. Miller also cautioned fans to not expect the interpretations of these character to strictly adhere to Spider-Man canon, just as Venom had nothing to do with the wallcrawler.
He said, via Deadline:
“We are developing a handful of live-action shows using Sony’s Marvel characters, of which there are like 900 characters…. We’re figuring out a way to develop the shows so that each are their own unique experience but are also related…. We’ve been talking to a lot of potential teammates for trying to do something not like anything else that’s been done on television…. It’ll be a little while before it all comes together and is on the air, but I think it is going to be something really special.”
With the burgeoning streaming wars, Sony is already out of the game. Their PlayStation Vue service tried to break through with original content, perhaps too early. The debuted a series based on Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s Powers. Since its cancellation, Sony’s original streaming business is slowly fading away. The question remains, then, where will these shows go?
Who Will Win The Right to Air These Shows?
As Marvel is the hottest name in Hollywood at the moment, Lord and Miller likely have their choice of places to take their shows. Disney+ would be an interesting choice, especially since they will soon be the only name in the Marvel streaming game. It seems silly for them to license shows. Disney already has a large catalog of properties it owns outright. Still, with Spider-Man: Far From Home netting Sony their first billion-dollar movie since the first Daniel Craig James Bond film, the two companies might want to cozy up with each other. Also, Spider-Man titles are the only ones that make sense for Disney+ to try to include. Yet, current deals Sony has in place might make such an alignment problematic.
Currently, Sony has a television deal with Starz which runs through 2021. In 2014, Sony Animation signed a deal with Netflix. This part of Sony’s media business isn’t a part of the Starz deal. Still, Starz seems like a strange place for a live-action Spider-Verse. Though, the shows could take advantage of the premium channel’s content freedom. Like Marvel’s Netflix shows, these series could earn TV-MA ratings, something Disney+ likely wants to avoid. Of course, instead of Disney+, Hulu could pick up these shows. They already feature more mature content like The Handmaid’s Tale and Marvel series like Marvel’s Runaways. Still, whoever ends up with the live-action Spider-verse stories will be revealed in the “next few months” according to Miller.
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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.