Tag Archives: Sony

ICYMI | SONY Pulls SPIDER-MAN Out of the MCU

Sony and Disney can’t come to an agreement! Keeping Spider-Man far from home and out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at least for the immediate future! 

Oh what a tangled web indeed! After years of back and forth, Sony and Disney had finally come to an agreement that allowed the studio to share custody of one of Marvel Studios biggest brands Spider-Man. After a series of very successful box office hits in the early 2000s starring Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst directed by Sam Raimi, Sony sat comfortably with its winning piece of the Marvel Comic icon grabbing big-ticket sales and breaking records — before the summer movie landscape would appear littered with the competition.

It wasn’t long before the franchise would suffer from fatigue and with an underwhelming performance with its third installment, Sony found itself in the peculiar predicament as Marvel Studios started spinning out its “Expanded Cinematic Universe” with hit after hit starting with 2008’s Iron Man and followed by Thor and Captain America. Marvel waited patiently for the ownership rights of its titular web-slinger to drop our of Sony’s hands, especially after the critically panned Spider-Man 3. In an effort to stay on top Sony went to work on a “reboot”!

The 2012 effort The Amazing Spider-Man starring Andrew Garfield didn’t hit the mark as had been anticipated, and with it running counter to the eventual blockbuster Avengers fans began to speculate whether Peter Parker’s friendly neighbor superhero would ever find himself in the same league as his Marvel Studio headliners. The answer to that question would have to wait, and in 2016 Disney which had since purchased the Marvel brand and all of its properties (including the film projects) introduced Spider-Man into the MCU in Captain America: Civil War.

SPIDER-MAN: ™ FAR FROM HOME

Homecoming

By the 2017 release of Spider-Man: Homecoming which spotlighted Tom Holland the latest actor to wear the fancy red and blue suit, the latest reboot joyfully indoctrinated Peter Parker into the MCU with none other than Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) as the aspiring hero’s benefactor. The film was also released as a studio cooperative between Sony and Disney, granting Sony co-partnership in the distribution of the feature film, while giving Disney ownership over the placement of the character throughout its franchises. Spider-Man would play a pivotal role in Avengers: Infinity War.

And although it appeared that the web-slingers fate was sealed at the conclusion of that epic battle, the follow-up feature Avengers: Endgame reconstituted Spider-Man just in time for the hero to headline his next big theatrical outing. Spider-Man: Far From Home the fourth film to feature Holland as Spider-Man also proved box office gold for Sony giving it the largest opening for the franchise, with a worldwide hovering over 1 billion, making it the studio’s biggest grossing release ever. With that record set, it’s curious that the studios would through a kink into the works.

This week Sony and Disney announced that effective immediately, Spider-Man would be exiting the Marvel Cinematic Universe! That doesn’t mean the future of the character is hanging from a thin web strand, it means that Spider-Man will not be part of the shared expanded cinematic universe that Disney reigns over, and going forward Spidey can’t Marvel Team-Up with any captain or doctor he may have saddled up to recently, and as for that special relationship between Peter and Tony Stark — yeah, that’s gone too!

Spider-Man (Tom Holland) takes MJ (Zendaya) out for a spin in New York City at the conclusion of “Spider-Man: Far From Home”.

A Multiverse of Possibilities

[Warning: SPOILER ALERT] Could the filmmakers have foreseen this descent into disillusion? Given the subplot context of the Marvel Multiplex in Spider-Man: Far From Home with the villainous Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) duping Peter and SHIELD into thinking he was the last survivor from an alternate-earth in the multiverse and the success of the animated full-length feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse could Sony had suspected that its partnership with Disney would become tarnished so quickly?

Inevitably this opens the way for Tom Holland (who apparently is locked in for 2 more pictures as is the franchise’s current director Jon Watts) to interact with Venom and expand on the much talked about inhabitants of the Spider-Verse. A film focused on the femme fatale Black Cat and one-time love interest of the web-slinger has been brandished about, so has another feature meant to capitalize on the hero’s rogues gallery. For a hot minute Sony had everyone waiting with bated breath on the arrival of The Sinister Six — it never happened.

With so many ideas to mine, perhaps it isn’t such a bad idea after all. With out the distraction of having to find a way to place mild-mannered high school student, turned Avenger, Peter Parker into a more elaborate storyline to service a grander theme, the future of the Spider-Man features could be far more incapsulated and center on the hero’s own trials and tribulations. With more than 6 decades of comic book stories to draw inspiration from, it could turn out far more profitable for Sony to hold onto the character.

Fans biggest fear though may be that away from the creative lead of Marvel’s chief creative mind Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal, the Spider-Man brand will suffer without the proper amount of coddling and support from the bigger cast of characters. Certainly the upcoming slate of films on Marvel’s slate may not have to worry about it; without a “next” Avengers on the horizon, it may not even matter. In the meantime we’ll have to accept that Spidey may inevitably remain far from home and has reached his own endgame.

Spider-Man: Far From Home has gone on to become the top-grossing film in Sony Pictures entire history, taking its predecessor Skyfall down a notch with a worldwide gross of $1.1 billion.

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iReview | VENOM

Street journalist Eddie Brock has just stumbled upon an alien invasion of epic proportions in Sony Pictures VENOM based on the Marvel Comics anti-hero, though don’t expect an ever-loving web-slinger to make any appearances!

The year was 2007 and although there weren’t very many superhero franchise films saturating the summer blockbuster season, genre-films were starting to make significant strides winning audiences and luring fans into the multiplex. Though clearly there were signs that fatigue was starting to set in — no where was that more evident than in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise and especially when it entered into its third installment. Spider-Man 3 didn’t enjoy the same critical appeal as its predecessors, neither did it ooze with charm.

In fact it oozed into obscurity and the critics pretty much tore it to shreds, inspiring Sony to immediately demand a “reboot”. Many cited that the film was particularly dense, having added too many extraneous characters — one in particular came at the demand of the studio. Hoping to send a more contemporary message, Sony requested that a modern villain be added to the line-up; particularly the studio requested that Venom be added into the mix. The black-clad alter-ego of Eddie Brock represented the antithesis of everything our hero stood for.

Unfortunately the character was largely lost in the melee that climaxed the film, but Sony held on to the property hopeful that one day they could resurrect the villain; holding most of the Spider-Man properties even as the web-slinger slipped through their grip (even after a pair of largely unpopular reboot attempts with a new Spidey under the hood). Now making good on their promise to steal some of Marvel Studio thunder, Sony unleashes Venon starring Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, and the unwitting host of the titular anti-hero.

Enough Superheroes

The idea of Venom as a stand-alone franchise is obscure enough, and the fact that Sony plowed ahead with the feature without incorporating Spider-Man into the origin story is simply arrogant. The studio, of course, is banking on the conceit that audiences are willing to accept “alternate facts” when it comes to their genre fandom and comic book favorites. It’s worked for HBO and their hit series Game Of Thrones which has gotten tired of waiting for fantasy novelist George R. R. Martin to complete his saga and decidedly spun the narrative in its own direction.

The entire CW primetime line-up has been switching up, enhancing and taking major liberties with its adaptation of DC Comics properties for upwards of a decade now, so theater goers shouldn’t be too traumatized with the creative directions that screenwriters have taken with director Ruben Fleischer’s vision of the slick black insidiously predatory goo from space that instead of piggy-banking on Peter Parker ends up latching onto Brock (Hardy) who is still a street reporter chasing down political scandals and civil injustices on the streets of San Fransisco.

When Brock gets assigned to profile visionary industrialist Carlton Drake played by Riz Ahmed at his hyper-secret lab complex, he takes the opportunity to grill Drake on the accusations surrounding his firm — accusations that Drake’s team of scientist are exposing innocent people to dangerously unstable antigenes and using them as lab rats. Drake doesn’t take it kindly to the possible exposure and instead goes about shattering Brock’s credibility and firing his lawyer girlfriend, Anne Weying played by Michelle Williams, effectively ending his relationship!

Two Is Company!

Down and out, Brock has become a mere reflection of himself until another opportunity to expose Carlton Drake as a threat presents itself. Sneaking into his lab, Brock is exposed to an alien symbiote that attaches itself to him; most of Drake’s attempts to merge with the alien have proven unsuccessful, but in Brock’s case “Venom” takes to Brock very easily. The two soon form an uneasy alliance, as Venom begins to comfortably set into his new surroundings (Brock) and reveals to Eddie that Drake intends on bringing a symbiote invasion force to Earth!

Drake bonds with the murderously fowl “Riot” and exerts a plan to launch a shuttle into space to intercept that asteroid home of the symbiotes. If Riot is successful, the human race will effectively be wiped out and replaced by the predatorily merciless creatures. It’s up to Brock and Venom, with the help of Anne, to thwart Drake/Riot’s plan and save the planet! Venom nearly sacrifices itself to save his human host, and Eddie returns the favor. The two enter into a bargain to protect the innocent and only eat the bad guys, but only the really, really bad guys.

For most of Venom the audience gets to know Eddie Brock. The largely unlikable character from the comic has been reimagined to suit the star quality of Tom Hardy, who is largely charming in the role. It’s unfortunate though that Venom is anything but charming. The creature is crude and unappealing to look at; a CGI monstrosity that once it takes over the film becomes a monster movie, and that’s perhaps where it loses its thrust. With a new superhero adaptation taking to the big screen almost every season, these films have had to evolve to meet audience expectations.

An example of which is Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy which is a modern space opera, and a complete flip to the more grounded world of the Avengers. When Marvel continued to expand its brand it introduced the multiverses of the Marvel Comics with Doctor Strange and Ant-Man both features dramatically different in tone, one skewed toward the metaphysical, the other more science-fiction, but each providing a different tone and pushing the boundaries of the genre into all-new, all-different arenas — thereby bringing in new audiences.

With Venom Sony had an opportunity to make a significant departure and deliver something that would have been completely unexpected — taking advantage of the anti-hero’s darker tone and violent nature to make a genuine horror-monster movie. Venom eats most of his victims when it isn’t impaling them on its prehensile spikes, but most of that happens off screen during the action scenes. Drake’s ultra-secret science lab where he conducts his experiments of the symbiotes had most of the trappings of a chamber of horrors, but just suggest how lethal his intentions are.

Venom instead sticks to the tropes of its genre, doesn’t really change the beats established by its predecessors and ends with the CGI slugfest that has permeated most of the other superhero movies of late. With the exception of the credit stinger (which leaves some glimmer hope), Venom doesn’t really get as dangerous as you’d hoped it would be, and is simply as adaptive as the symbiote it portrays. Perhaps if Fleischer is inspired by the recent comments Tom Hardy made while promoting the film, he’ll re-edit a “director’s cut” and put some R-Rated content in!

Venom starring Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams; directed by Ruben Fleischer | Rated PG-13