I didn’t think I’d be updating my MCU Copycatting theme for quite awhile yet. I mean, we’re barely halfway through the year, it’s not even been five months since my last commentary, and the one before that was more a rag on DC’s trailer for Batman v Superman than anything else. Though I think my comment about DC’s cookie cutter approach could be a valid retroactive addition, that ship has sailed and doesn’t need to come back into port just yet. Surely there can’t be that much to comment on already, right?
Well, this is a very long-running, slow-moving thread, so at least two of my earliest posts have become very outdated. In fact, they became particularly outdated quite recently. The overall situation has changed and become much more clear in a relatively short time, just in the last several weeks.
In short: an update is required!
For the most part, things are running along pretty much as previously stated. Marvel, DC, and Fox have been the most major competitors, and things are largely unchanged. Marvel has announced plans for The Runaways and New Warriors, but I’ve yet to find a proper confirmation of whether these are or aren’t in the MCU, so I’m not including them just yet. DC is also moving forward with plans for a live action Titans show a third season for the animated Young Justice, but I doubt either of those are connected with any of their standing cineverses. And Fox has debuted trailers for an upcoming live-action show, The Gifted, also created in partnership with Marvel if I’ve heard/recall right, and connected to their film franchise, but there’s not much else new to report on that front.
No, this update isn’t about any of the three “main contenders.” This is for two of the outliers: Sony and Universal.
Sony, I think, is making a colossal mistake.
After the failure of Amazing Spider-Man 2, they shelved all further plans for the Spider-Man universe and made a deal with Marvel to share rights to Spider-Man himself. This was a good move, as it not only buried a failing cineverse, but gained Spidey some much-needed good publicity. He was a fantastic addition to Captain America: Civil War and everyone is excited for Spider-Man: Homecoming. After that, though things are a bit murky, it’s still clear that Marvel will be using Spidey in the MCU and producing sequels.
So, Spidey is getting pretty well entrenched in Marvel’s camp. Though he still belongs to Sony, Sony are letting Marvel take the lead, as Marvel actually knows what they’re doing, which means they can keep making money. Very important, that.
Which makes it nothing short of stupid, I think, for Sony to not only hog so many other properties in relation to Spider-Man, but to revive their plans for a Spider-Man universe, most especially when planning to do so without Spider-Man.
…seriously? I mean, seriously?! They do know that they don’t actually have Spider-Man for this cineverse of theirs, right? But they’re moving forward with plans to develop the universe that exists around him, but without him anywhere in it. That’s a bit like building a castle without a foundation! It’s not really reviving the Spider-Man cineverse. It’s reanimating it as a cinematic zombie! What are they thinking?
…ok, yes, they’re probably thinking, “There’s nothing quite as wonderful as money, money, money,” but you know what I mean!
And how are they planning to do this?
Well, Spidey is rather essential for anything involving the Sinister Six, so that movie, at least, is scrapped, hopefully beyond revival. But there are two other properties.
First, there’s Venom, which is kind of ridiculous. DC may have had some success with Suicide Squad, and Fox had tremendous success with Deadpool, but Venom? Venom is easily among the worst villains in the entire Marvel Comics universe, and he is Spidey’s enemy. How are they possibly going to have the villain without the hero? Deadpool and the Squad’s villainy was balanced out with the heroism of their friends, the evil of their enemies, and their own choices to do something good. Venom doesn’t have any of that. He is a villain, an enemy, plain and simple.
Just what are they going to do with him alone?
Second, there’s Black Cat and Silver Sable. While I can, as a guy, appreciate bringing two of Spidey’s most voluptuous and alluring frenemies to the big screen for the first time, I have similar concerns as with Venom. Not only do I have no idea what a the cat burglar and the secret agent will be doing or what could bring them together – wait, I amend that, they’ll probably meet as they’re both breaking in and stealing things from the same people at the same time – and why they would stay that way without Spidey bridging the gap between them.
Also, I know I’m repeating myself from earlier posts, but isn’t it a bit insulting to need to team the women up as if they can’t carry a film on their own the way all their male counterparts can?
Still, I suppose I have slightly more hope for the girls’ movie than I do for Venom.
But what is Sony thinking?
And how can they call it a cinematic universe if they don’t even bridge the gap between properties, which, as it happens, is where Spider-Man, as in the figure at the center of this universe, comes in?
Were I Sony, I would trust in the partnership with Marvel and just leave the deceased Spidey-verse where it lie. Instead, I would focus on getting the Valiant cineverse off the ground. Seriously, outside a little shuffling in the order of the films, it seems to have come to a standstill before even moving. Which is a shame. While I am unfamiliar with the material myself, my understanding is that it’s quite popular, and it could put them back on an even footing with the main trio of contenders.
But I suppose I digress.
As for the second part of this update, Universal has made great swathes of my entire introductory post about their plans obsolete now. Which, all things considered, might not be such a bad thing.
I do still believe they’re fighting an uphill battle, but there might be some reason to hope. For one thing, after the dismal failure of Dracula Untold, they seem to have gone back to the drawing board. It was clearly supposed to be the launching point of the Monster Cinematic Universe, but it would have been like launching of a landmine. Yes, there might be a millisecond of acceleration, however, you’re not exactly in prime condition for running when it’s over.
So, they went back and started over.
Three years later, we’re getting The Mummy instead of a Dracula movie to launch Univeral’s monster cineverse, officially entitled the Dark Universe, and it looks much more promising. From what they’ve been saying, there are some crucial elements to the movie and the Dark Universe as a whole, especially the genuine humanity of the monsters. The audience needs to be able to connect with the monsters, they say, so that has been a huge thing. I imagine this is part of why they settled on a female mummy, an unexpected, intriguing twist. Also, there’s action, and likely jump-scares, but with an emphasis on the more classic horror elements which create suspense and properly terrify the audience. And, of course, there’s already something set up to connect the movies in some way, namely the secret organization called Prodigem.
That’s some serious improvements over their previous plans, just at a cursory glance. They’re using the principle of a cinematic universe, but creating something unique, something that can be set apart from both the superheroes and other incarnations of these classic monsters.
For the future, there are reportedly plans for Bride of Frankenstein, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man, the Wolf Man, and, most appealing to me, Van Helsing.
I am still hesitant, though. Not only is horror generally not my thing…
…ok, that’s somewhat changed over the last few years, but I still try to be pretty careful with the entire genre as a whole…
…anyway, outside my personal preferences, I do have to wonder. Not only is the absence of Dracula rather telling, as he is the undisputed king of Universal’s monsters, but in what movie or movies are they going to come together? It’s apparent that Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde appear in The Mummy, but what else are they doing?
Also, the space between these movies, with Bride of Frankenstein still two years out and no mention of when the other movies will come out, how much of a cineverse will this be really? If we’re following the same character or characters from one movie to another, that feels less like a cineverse and more like your typical series.
And, at least of my original concerns remains: these are the villains of the story. How are they going to reuse them when every story involving them involves their defeat?
So, that’s pretty much it. We have Sony flailing wildly to make a Spidey-verse without Spidey and Universal’s Dark Universe beginning to take shape. It says something that I actually have more hope for the latter now.