Can the MCU replace the wall-crawler?
They may end up working something out, but for now it seems Sony has taken Marvel’s toy and gone home.
Sony acquired the rights to Spider-Man movies long before superhero blockbusters started coming out with a regularity associated with the highest-of-fiber diets. A few years back, they reached an agreement to let Marvel (and parent company Disney) use the wall-crawler in the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, but things recently fell apart.
Perhaps it’s because Sony was emboldened by the performance of Oscar-winner “Into the Spider-Verse;” “Venom,” which made beaucoup bucks despite the highest praise I heard amounting to, “I mean, some of it was OK;” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” the studio’s first billion-dollar picture.
Even if Sony manages to keep the same cast and director, they’re likely to take a financial hit from disengaging with the biggest franchise in movie history. But it probably won’t be as much as the 50 percent in revenue Disney was said to be seeking in future shared custody of Peter Parker.
Spider-Man was positioned to play an important role in the MCU. But under Kevin Feige, the studio has turned the Guardians of the Galaxy into household names and has people excited about “The Eternals,” featuring a cast of characters even I barely know. Ikaris is blond and … an Eternal. Sersi made the Avengers jackets.
So who could Marvel next give the star treatment?
* Ms. Marvel – Kamala Khan has already been tapped for a TV series on the forthcoming Disney+ streaming service. Those shows promise closer ties to the movies than latter seasons of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” or the Netflix characters. Maybe the heroine graduates to the Avengers.
* Nova – As an Earth-bound member of an intergalactic peacekeeping group, Nova – either the original Richard Rider or more recent Sam Alexander – could offer a fresh perspective while tied to established entities in the MCU (specifically the Nova Corps from the first “Guardians” film).
* Ironheart – Teen genius Riri Williams took over for Tony Stark in the comics; why not on screen? The idea of a character who isn’t a rich white dude taking on the established mantle sounds like an interesting creative choice, not the forced political correctness some have dismissed the story as promoting.
* Amadeus Cho – The brilliant young Hulk fan’s mother appeared in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” He could be introduced as a protege of Bruce Banner or an enthusiastic inventor trying to follow in his footsteps or prove he’s the next big brain, at least until Reed Richards is introduced. Speaking of the Fantastic Four…
* Human Torch – Most often associated with the FF, Johnny Storm carried his own solo title back in the day. He could pop up in other movies or even headline a solo spinoff in the right hands.
* Gravity – Perhaps the least known character on this list, Greg Willis was created by writer Sean McKeever and artist Mike Norton for a 2005 limited series. A rookie who learned to step up as he worked with both new and established heroes, Gravity could occupy the same space the MCU Spider-Man did, while letting Marvel build up another lesser-known character.
* Squirrel Girl – All those shows announced for Disney+ and still no movement on that “New Warriors” series starring Doreen Green? Just take her straight to theaters. By relating to and helping would-be foes as often as she cleans their clocks, Squirrel Girl would tread new ground for Marvel and win the respect of all manner of heroes and villains, just like in the comics.
Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic “Support Group.”