Sony's Spider-Villain movies should follow the Marvel Avengers pattern, building to a climax in a Maximum Carnage film. The studio's deal with Marvel has allowed Tom Holland's Spider-Man to enter the MCU, and it's been a tremendous success so far. But while the wall-crawler himself is now a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sony is still free to make films starring secondary characters associated with Spider-Man - including movies that star members of his rogues' gallery.
The first Spider-villain spinoff will be Venom, due to release on October 5 this year. A wide range of other spinoffs are in the works, too, such as Morbius, starring Jared Leto and reportedly due to start filming later this year. Silver & Black's production has been a little more troubled, and the film's currently on hiatus while the script is reworked. In addition to these villains, Spike Lee is believed to have been tapped as director of the Nightwatch movie, and there have been recent reports that a Silk film is in the works as well.
So far, it all seems pretty random; just why is Sony choosing these particular properties? Are they literally just picking names out of a hat or does the studio have a general direction in mind? The latter may well be the case, because almost all of these characters have one particular thread connecting them.
- This Page: What Actually Is Maximum Carnage?
- Page 2: How Sony's Villains Universe is Heading for Maximum Carnage
Maximum Carnage Explained
Nowadays, comic book readers are used to the idea that they'll regularly be picking up Spider-Man events. Surprisingly, though, until writer Dan Slott's run, these events were few and far between. In fact, 1993's Maximum Carnage was the sole event story in the '90s (the likes of the Clone Saga were regular arcs that got out of control).
Maximum Carnage was one of the most brutal Spider-Man events of all time. Recent comics had introduced the character of Cletus Kasady, a sadistic serial killer who had become host to an alien symbiote and taken on the identity of Carnage. Marvel viewed Carnage as their most dangerous foe, and deliberately positioned him to be the nightmare villain for both Spider-Man and Venom. Artist Erik Larsen designed Carnage's human component to be deliberately reminiscent of the Joker from Batman comics, while the symbiotic form was designed by Mark Bagley. There's a sense in which Carnage was the ultimate superhero villain of the '90s; brutal and violent, he rejoiced in bloodshed and had literally no redeeming features to him. Carnage's one goal in life was to shed as much blood as possible, and he reveled in the chaos he caused.
In Maximum Carnage, Kasady broke out of jail and found himself leader of a group of maniacs, all of whom rejoiced in chaos and bloodshed. With Carnage up front, these villains launched a bloody and violent attack on New York City. Matters were made worse by Carnage's "girlfriend," Shriek, another inmate who possessed the power to generate sonic frequencies that inspires others to violence. With riots blazing across New York, Spider-Man and a group of unlikely allies desperately attempted to bring an end to the bloodshed.
The story's heart was a moral quandary; should Spider-Man actually kill Carnage? The senseless violence tested Spider-Man's belief in humanity to the limit, and matters weren't helped by the fact he had to form some unlikely alliances to fight against his latest foe; Peter Parker was forced to team up with antiheroes like Venom, Morbius, and the Black Cat, while Nightwatch too played a minor role in the story.
As Omega Underground recently noted, Sony's movie plans involve a lot of the characters who are part of Maximum Carnage. Venom, Black Cat, Nightwatch, and Morbius are all being brought into play in the Sony Spider-villains universe. And it's generally believed Woody Harrelson will actually appear as Carnage himself at the tail-end of Venom, teasing a future return. Omega Underground suggests that Maximum Carnage could be the basis for Venom 2, but Sony would be wise to take matters one step further.
Maximum Carnage Should be Sony's Event Movie
Sony is just one of many studios attempting to mimic Marvel by creating a shared cinematic universe. The ultimate goal in such a shared universe, of course, is that plotlines can intersect and characters can interact with one another. In the MCU, that traditionally happens in the main Avengers franchise; movies that come at the end of each "phase" and see the heroes team up against a big bad. Sony would be wise to mimic this approach, introducing their key characters in a range of solo films, and then bringing them together against the threat of Carnage. Thus, Maximum Carnage would become the Sony Spider-villain equivalent of The Avengers.
This would be a far better approach than simply using this plot in Venom 2, with the other heroes/antiheroes acting as secondary characters. Sony will be hoping that every one of their movies will resonate with viewers and that all of these characters - including the likes of Nightwatch and Black Cat - will build their own fanbases. An event movie honors that idea in a way that simple cameos don't. It also constructs a clear sense of momentum; the Sony Spider-villain universe begins with Venom, and then peaks with a story in which the symbiotes go out of control.
But there is one major problem with this idea; the absence of Spider-Man. There's simply no way Marvel Studios would be happy for Tom Holland's PG-13 Spider-Man to appear in these films. That means some fans will be frustrated at this, wishing Sony would leave Maximum Carnage for the MCU. And yet, that's simply not feasible; Maximum Carnage is off-brand for Marvel Studios, so it's highly unlikely the MCU will ever explore this arc. There's a sense of bleak nihilism in the actual story, one that just doesn't fit with the lively, energetic tone of the MCU's Spider-Man films; to adapt it would be to change it.
That leaves a Spider-Man-sized hole in the Maximum Carnage event nevertheless. After all, the comic book arc is centered upon a philosophical question of whether or not Spider-Man should kill. None of the characters Sony is considering have any qualms about killing, so that moral quandary is gone. How can Sony still make the movie work?
Silk Should be the Hero of Maximum Carnage
The solution may lie in another of Spider-Man's secondary characters, Silk. Created by Dan Slott back in 2014, the character of Silk is another person who was bitten by that famous radioactive spider; she has powers that are roughly equivalent to Spider-Man's, although she has biological webbing as well. Silk was forced into hiding for years, for fear of attracting the attention of an extradimensional race known as the Inheritors, but emerged from the shadows during 2014's Original Sin storyline. She's quite a popular secondary character, and has even been star of her own solo series, which saw her interacting with the Marvel Universe's criminal underworld. Silk even wound up going undercover for S.H.I.E.L.D. as an agent of the Black Cat, who was acting as a crime boss at the time.
Silk would be the perfect character to fill that Spider-Man-shaped void. Unlike the other characters Sony is developing, Silk is an out-and-out superhero, complete with the hangups about killing. That means she could easily become the moral linchpin of the anti-Carnage team, the yin to Venom's yang, attempting to keep her violent allies in check. The moral challenges posed by Maximum Carnage are back - meaning we have an actual story again, not just an excuse for action scenes. Given a Silk movie is in development, the legwork is already underway.
It's surely unlikely to be a coincidence that Sony is moving the pieces into place for the Maximum Carnage plot. So far, audiences have focused on the idea that Carnage will be the villain in the Venom sequel, but the truth may be that the studio is looking to create something much more potent and powerful than that. Sony could easily be attempting to mimic the MCU's successful pattern - and preparing the way for the ultimate brutal, violent Spider-villains movie.