Nov 12, 2014

Not a Joke: Sony Planning Spider-man Spin-off About Aunt May as a Spy?

When I read the Latino Review headline about Sony, in obvious desperation, planning a Spider-man spin-off movie about Aunt May, I actually laughed out loud. (And wondered for a second if it was April 1.) Then when I read the actual article and saw that they wanted to make a Sixties-set spy movie with a female lead, I stopped laughing. I was torn. I love Sixties spy movies, especially with female leads. And both Sixties-set spy movies and spy movies with female leads are hard to come by these days, and hard to get made. So if somehow shoehorning one into the Spider-man universe is the only way to do it, then maybe I'm not so opposed as I thought I was to giving the Spidey bit player least likely to get her own spin-off an all-new background as a secret agent with no precedent in the Marvel comic books. Maybe.

Why, you might very reasonably ask, are we even talking about the possibility of Aunt May as a spy? Well, it's because Sony has to keep making Spider-man movies (or at least movies tangentially related to Spider-man, I guess) in order to keep the rights to the character from reverting back to Marvel (who would just love to see their flagship character return to the fold, and be able to add him to their ever growing Marvel Cinematic Universe). But unfortunately for Sony, their last Spider-man movie didn't do as well as they'd hoped it would. (Maybe, just maybe, audiences weren't ready to see a character rebooted barely a decade after his screen debut....) So they've started panicking about the future of the franchise. And rather than figuring out how to get their lead character back on track, they're trying to come up with spin-offs featuring every possible Spidey Universe supporting character, hoping against hope to build the same sort of shared universe Marvel enjoys with a bunch of third-tier heroes and villains.

They've long been mooting a Sinister Six movie (who on earth wants to see Spider-man villains teaming up as good guys in a movie without Spider-man?), they keep threatening to put out a Venom movie (yawn... another villain re-positioned as an anti-hero), they've reportedly considered a movie teaming up all the female characters from the Spider-man comics (the likes of Spider-woman, Black Cat and Silver Sable, any one of whom I'd actually like to see on the big screen in the right context, but probably not as a team)... and now they've perhaps sunk to hilarious lows by, if Latino Review is to be believed (and their track record is pretty solid) thinking about an Aunt May movie. (Sally Field played Aunt May in the two most recent movies.) And just like their Sinister Six idea kind of seems like a poor copy of Marvel's success with the superhero jamboree Marvel's The Avengers, this concept also sounds a little like a copy of something Marvel's doing. Marvel, of course, has their own period piece about a female spy on the way, the eagerly anticipated TV miniseries Agent Carter, starring Hayley Atwell.

Now, if I were Sony and I were desperate to both save my Spider-man franchise by giving it a new twist and introduce audiences to characters who could be spun off into their own films and potentially spawn new franchises, I think I would probably turn back to the comics—specifically Marvel Team-Up, which paired Spidey with another Marvel hero month after month. Do that. Make a movie teaming proven box office commodity Spider-man up with the mostly unknown Silver Sable, and then you have the basis to give her her own movie. Next time team him up with Black Cat, and so on. But that's just me. Sony is apparently intent on creating spin-offs from whole cloth based partly on characters that audiences who don't read comics have never even heard of. So of all the bad ideas they're mulling, the Aunt May one actually sounds the least bad to me. According to Latino Review, "the target mood [of the spin-off] is some sort of espionage story in the vein of AMC’s Mad Men." Well, honestly, as regular readers know a sort of espionage story in the vein of Mad Men is what I want most out of life, so I guess I'm all for an Aunt May spin-off. And I never thought I'd hear myself saying that before! Kudos to whatever writer thought of pitching his Sixties female spy movie as an Aunt May movie. Whatever it takes...

UPDATE: Sony has, unsurprisingly, denied any of this.


Silent Hunter said...

Of course, Sony got the Spiderman rights in the first place through a deal with MGM - MGM got all the Bond rights and Sony got all the Spidey rights.

Jason said...

Actually, Latino Review has a habit of pulling "news" out of their butt to drive traffic to their site. It's the same with