Venom, Black Cat and the Silver Sable: The potentially R rated universe we aren’t sure we want

Currently there is a triple threat match taking place in the world of superhero movies. Marvel is our titular hero, with its high flying moves to wow the crowd and the years of experience it has behind it to land these tried and tested crowd pleasers. Their opponents are veteran of the pen & paper ring making their relative debut to live action in DCEU, and a fighter of fluctuating skill in Fox. But wait! What’s this! A new challenger in the Cinematic universe fight of the century; SONY!

To be fair, all of these companies have been in the superhero business for a while now, but it is only in the past five years when we are seeing the cinematic universe race pick up its pace, and Sony, the focus today, does not want to be left behind. Currently they are in conjunction with Marvel over the use of Spider-man in the MCU, and while Sony still owns the rights to the character, Marvel is directing the ship anytime Spider-man appears in their universe. So the obvious choice is for Sony to start their own cinematic universe without this Spidey AND kick off their universe with a Venom character right. . . . right?

Snark aside, Venom seems to be front and center in this new Sony Cinematic universe and for better or worse it looks like they are going for an R rating, making the Symbiote a starkly different character compared to their other properties. Couple this with the announcement of both a Black Cat and a Silver Sable film, or a Black Cat/Silver Sable, as it is not very clear at the moment, Sony is looking to build this universe from the ground up on secondary and tertiary characters, many of which are obscure to even some comic book fans. I will talk about the ladies in a moment, but first let’s focus on the main aspect of these announcement’s; Venom, and what/how he could be brought to the big screen.

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I have been seeing three big story idea’s being thrown around for the Venom movie, all of them with some, in my opinion, serious merit. They are the Horror angle, as the image above suggests, a new Spider-man separate from Tom Hollands character in the MCU and an Agent Venom story line, where Flash Thompson receives the symbiote after losing his legs in war.  Out of the three, the Agent Venom potential story arc intrigues me the most but let’s break down what each of these could actually turn into.

With the Horror genre really getting its groove back over the past couple of years, it makes a lot of sense to take a character who can be creepy as hell and put him in that genre. Not only does the symbiote take over a person, so sit’s comfortably in a body horror skin, pun intended, but is also stands in the shadow of movies like Alien as a creature that can hunt it’s enemies. Think of how Spider-man cannot ‘spidey sense’ Venom, and apply that to a group of military personal who are trying to capture the symbiote. Having to use tech like motion sensors, sonic weapons and fire to battle a horrific creature could be a really compelling movie. This is also where I think the R rating stands at its strongest. Horror almost always benefits from this rating as it allows the film makers to explore the harder hitting nature of violence, mature subject matter, and gore.

The second option seems to revolve around a new Spider-man within the Sony universe. Many put forth that Miles Morales would make a great addition to their roster, not only as he is a great character, but also gives us another multi-cultural character to enjoy. Whether or not you care about that personally, it is a big issue in the movie world, and as we have seen with movies like Ghost in the Shell, people want to see more diverse characters in their movies, and not always default to “the white person”. While I don’t know much about Morales personally, as I don’t follow Spider-man much, I do know he is a beloved character, so any of his story arc’s would make a great backdrop to spin Venom into, but I imagine they would take a hard look at adapting the ‘Venom Wars’ story arc.

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The last option many people are talking about, and one that I am personally the most excited for, is the Agent Venom angle. This puts Flash Thompson, a character from Peter Parker’s Spider-man past, in the role of our anti-hero. After losing his legs in the Iraq war, he is bonded the symbiote so he can continue to serve in the military. The bond between man and monster can only be short-lived, as Venom looks to take over his human host and wreak destruction once he has control. I like this idea for two major reasons. The first is the fact that a action-horror military movie could be really awesome as the supernatural elements, in terms of strength speed and resilience of Venom vs regular military personal, would create a cool dynamic as they have to control not only the creature, but the message about how it is being used.  The other aspect is that you could tie Silver Sable into this movie as an introduction to the character and the general movie going public before her solo outing.  She is another military style character, so her expertise could be used to either try to contain the symbiote fueled Flash, or as the hunt squad needed to bring it back under control.

The other two movies Sony has touched on are the aforementioned Silver Sable, and Black Cat. I will fully admit I don’t know much about these characters, as Silver Sable has never seen a huge arc come to fruition in the comics and Black Cat, as well as Catwoman from DC, have never interested me much due to their character design and, in my opinion, lack of interesting story lines. It might also be my age, but I am really tired of “My super power is a low-cut costume and flexibility”, but that is a different story all together.

Silver Sable, as I mentioned above could fit very nicely into an Agent Venom story, to then spin-off into her own movie. Her outfit, the Wild Pack, is a mercenary group who hunts war criminals and while one of her main rivals, Doctor Doom, is out of the picture at the moment due to rights issues, there are a ton of smaller characters that can be drawn upon for her and her group to battle against. This would give Sony a, if done correctly, strong female lead who has the team dynamics of say a Cyclops or Storm, with the grit and guns of a Punisher, Deadpool or Grifter, minus the healing factor or other mutant abilities of the latter two. If Sony and Marvel could make another trade of minor characters, we could potentially see a Baroness Zemo as a Villainess to Sables hero in her own standalone.

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As to Black Cat, I think my bias to this character comes out to strong, much like my dislike of Catwoman. I think there is potential if you are doing something like a heist movie, in a similar vein to Ant-Man. I also think her movie would be ripe for cameo’s from other hero’s in the universe, in a sort of backdoor announcement, much like Luke Cage was in Jessica Jones. However I am truly at a loss for what would make this character stand out enough to warrant their own movie. If you guys have an idea let me know.

As the months roll on, I am sure we will hear more about these movies, their potential franchises and other characters Sony wan’t to add into their universe. Do we hear about the Sinister Six, the Green/Hob Goblin’s, or any myriad of other characters Sony can pull from to be the fourth pillar in this Superhero cinematic universe showdown.

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The Rumour Mill: How the DCEU seems to churne under weight of speculation

Warner brothers and DC are currently at the end of round three in a twelve round fight with Marvel. Shots have been exchanged but Marvel is, by the score card, ahead in points. If this were a movie we would be treated to a flash back to the beginning of the fighters run as they go through their trials and tribulations to get to this big fight. This is not a movie however and there is no Denzel to lead us through the current battle. Fight analogy aside the WB/DCEU is in a box office battle against Disney/Marvel for the superhero crown and the last four months have not been kind to the house that is to give us the Justice League.

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Arguably the most popular and well-known hero in the world Batman has been a good card for DC to use when they need to draw interest. Whether it’s the Christian Bales/Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy or the newly minted Affleck from Batman v Superman, our caped crusader draws in a large and enthusiastic crowd. For all its positives though, this latest iteration of Batman has brought some turmoil to all involved.

Before touching on the Batman as a solo project lets look back on the three entries already in DCEUs current cinematic universe, and as an aside I personally enjoyed all of these movies and while I had issues with aspects of each movie I feel they were in the “good” category rating in line with some of the  Marvel films.

DCs first entry was Man of Steel and it gave us the starting point for both tone and feel that Warner Brothers wanted to head in for their movie universe. Superman squares off against true warriors of his race as he battles to find his place in the world of man. The next movie jumps us forward into a pre-justice league style movie with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman featured prominently with cameos from the remaining team members; Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash. The holy trinity battle against Lex Luthor (from earth 3 it seems, but that’s neither here nor there) and the monster known as Doomsday. The last movie WB has put out is the Suicide Squad, a ragtag band of villains who get forced into work for a secret part of the government to take out even bigger threats.

You might think “Well why do those movies matter if we are going to talk about Batman” which is a great question. Ben Affleck was one of, if not the, best thing about Batman v Superman in many people’s eyes as he brought a great look and feel to both sides of the character. Fast forward to the last six months and the Batfleck has been the eye of the storm for many of the rumors and speculation. Before his movie Live by Night came out, Affleck seem to have carte blanche for his producer/director/co-writer/actor roles for the upcoming solo Batman movie. A weak performance at the box office and Life by Night might have actually cut off some of the freedom that Ben had. Couple this potential issue with statements like “I will only direct if the script is good” when he is writing the script and one can surmise he was getting pinned in a corner. We have now, over the last month, gotten information that Affleck is no longer directing and no longer writing. For the directing chair it seems Warner brothers is looking at Matt Reeves and the script has gotten one full rewrite treatment by Chris Terrio with a potential second heavy/full rewrite.

Add to the fact that there are rumors that the Terrio script was liked by Ben and WB, that it’s going in for full rewrites and the potentially A-bomb that Affleck wants out as Batman and fans have a plethora of potential reasons to be concerned with the future of this cinematic universe.

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While all of the Batman news eats up most of the headlines, there has been rumblings that the Wonder Woman movie is not shaping up well. These rumors claim that the movie is a jumbled mess, which is a pretty serious accusation to throw around on a movie which has a huge load on its shoulders. Wonder Woman is the first female lead super hero movie to hit the big screens from either company, which is huge on its own right, but it is also another chance for DC and Warner Brothers to get the double thumbs up; a critical and box office success. Out of every DC movie I personally want to see Wonder Woman and Aquaman crush it, so these types of rumors kill me inside a bit.  On the positive side, the lack of mainstream coverage on this could be a good thing as these accusations of a poorly constructed movie could be nothing more than simply that, accusations.

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This brings us to the last movie I have heard a ton of rumors/issues about and that is the Flash. This movie has been struggling for over quite a while now with the numerous script rewrites and directors leaving the project which, in my opinion, puts it in the most jeopardy of cancellation or push back to 2019/2020. The Flash, tonally, is the lightest out of the entire DC movie roster as the character is often depicted as the comic relief or heart of the team. With the delays and rumours about this project stagnating and being slow to start-up again, it is worrying on how Flash will fit into the overall DCEU universe, especially when he is likely to be the vehicle that Cyborg will also be introduced with.

So all of these seemingly negative aspects for Warner Brothers and DCs cinematic universe are more than enough to give the average person pause. It seems, if you only listen to the rumors, that nothing is going well and everything is doom and gloom. This type of mind-set that the general audience can get is what really hampers the studio’s ability to get the most out of their movies. While it’s not strictly a competition many compare Marvel studios and the success their films have had over DC as a marker for what success is, usually the billion dollar mark, and when the DC films miss that mark, they get labeled as a “failure”. This is obviously false as a universally loved movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, made less than Batman v Superman, which was highly divisive with fans and critics alike.

At the end of the day, I think there is one thing that WB and DC could take from the Marvel studio’s style of story telling and that is to come up with a solid movie first, then add their respective character flavor to it. Oh and let’s stop announcing projects 10 years into the future please, as we know they are not going to stay in the places you initially mention them, and it looks pretty stupid when you have to cancel/move projects multiple times because of flash in the pan hype on something, and yes I am looking at you Birds of Prey movie.