Along with Fox’s plans to expand and link up its Marvel properties X-Men and Fantastic Four, Sony recently began hinting at its own strategy for expanding Spider-Man with sequels and spinoffs—because like the comics that spawned them, all Marvel movies and TV shows must be part of a vast, interconnected universe, so long as that universe exists within the single studio that owns them. Now comes some more details on how Sony will sprout its own Avengers-sized world from the single seed of Spider-Man: The studio has formed a “franchise brain trust” of writers and producers to develop a single, continuous story thread that will tie together the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 3 and 4, as well as the newly confirmed Venom and The Sinister Six, standalone spinoffs focusing on the black alien goop and cadre of supervillains, respectively, who evilly conspire to ensure Peter Parker never gets any downtime.
In that brain trust are several people who are already deeply involved with Spider-Man, Marvel, and just generally genre properties, including: Spider-Man 2 and 3 (and any other franchise that needs franchisin’) writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, plus their Fringe/Spider-Man collaborator Jeff Pinkner; Drew Goddard, recently tapped by Disney to develop Daredevil, who will also write and possibly direct Sinister Six; and Ed Solomon, whose credits include Bill And Ted and Men In Black, and who will collaborate with Kurtzman and Orci on the Kurtzman-directed Venom. They’ll all work in tandem with Spider-Man producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, as well as Marc Webb—who isn’t officially signed to direct more Spider-Man movies yet, but likely will be soon, given that Sony is clearly hoping they’re about to explode into its own potentially billion-dollar franchise.
For Venom, it’s the realization of several failed attempts to bring him to the screen—including that time Topher Grace actually did bring him to the screen in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, then everyone agreed to pretend like that didn’t happen. And The Sinister Six has already been built up through the reports of Amazing Spider-Man 2’s swelling villains roster, as well as a trailer scene that seemed to explicitly telegraph it. Of course, even with Spider-Man’s deep bench of compelling enemies, it remains to be seen how this brain trust will build spinoffs entirely around villains, with no mention of Spider-Man—or any other hero—for them be villainous toward. (Maybe the Sinister Six just has lots of board meetings where they talk about how much they hate him?)
But what’s already clear is that, between Sony’s Spider-Man universe, Fox’s X-Men/Fantastic Four universe, Warner Bros.’ burgeoning Justice League universe, and Disney’s granddaddy Marvel universe, pretty soon just seeing a comic-book movie might require the same commitment to keeping up with continuity that comes with actually reading comic books.