Live-action Spider-Man spin-offs are coming to TV – but what should we expect?

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller are tackling a new TV universe, but which characters might make the cut?

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If reading the long list of Marvel spin-off TV series coming soon is already blurring your (wanda)vision then best prepare yourself – because apparently, rival studio Sony are also planning a slate of live-action TV series using the subset of Marvel characters that they own through their acquisition of Spider-Man.

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In a new interview, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller have revealed that they’re working on a host of live-action Spidey TV spin-offs for their new pals at Sony, following in the footsteps of the studio’s big-screen villain spin-offs Venom and Morbius (which both reimagine Spider-Man villains without Spider-Man himself).

“We are developing a handful of live action shows using Sony’s Marvel characters, of which there are like 900 characters,” Miller told Deadline.

“We’re figuring out a way to develop the shows so that each are their own unique experience but are also related.”

The limitations of this universe are that Sony only has Spider-Man characters to play with (which there are quite a few of, to be fair) and that they probably can’t use Spider-Man himself in the near future, given that they already made the decision to let him join Marvel’s Cinematic Universe for the time being (where he’s played by Tom Holland).

So what could a live-action Sony TV universe look like, and which Spider-Man characters would actually make for an interesting drama? We lay out a few options below.


Silver Sable and/or Black Cat

Even before adding Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sony were planning a spin-off movie called Silver and Black, which would follow the fortunes of two of Spider-Man’s most formidable foes turned sometime allies.

With that in mind it seems more than likely that Sable and Black Cat are among the properties being explored for a TV show, especially considering that both characters have a fairly rich backstory that doesn’t entirely involve Spider-Man.

Sable, for example, is a mercenary and hunter of war criminals from the fictional European nation of Symkaria, and it’s easy to see how her military activities and quest for justice could make for a compelling TV story (especially considering her relative lack of notoriety to casual audiences).

Black Cat, meanwhile, is a superpowered cat burglar with enhanced strength, agility, senses and the ability to cause bad luck to others. Ill-fated victims over the years have included foes, friends and even her lover Spider-Man, but she has also teamed up with other heroes and pulled off complex heists without him.

Arguably, both characters would have what it takes to make interesting TV series of their own, and we’ve only grouped them together here because of Sony’s former plans to do the same (the two characters haven’t crossed paths much in the comics) which could indicate a desire to do the same on the small screen.


Spider-Man’s foes

The most obvious tack for Sony in creating a Spider-Man spin-off series is reimagining his villains, just like they’ve already done on the big screen with Tom Hardy’s Venom and Jared Leto’s upcoming take on the vampiric Morbius.

Still, this doesn’t mean that absolutely any villain will do for the spin-off treatment. Presumably, any bad guys who’ve appeared in the MCU continuity – including the Vulture, the Scorpion, Mysterio and Shocker – will be left out to avoid confusion, while there are a few others that are hard to imagine working when divorced of their enmity to Spider-Man.

For example, how would a series about arch-foes like Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin even work without Spider-Man? So much of those characters is wrapped up in their relationship with the webhead, and an attempt to reboot them as antiheroes would rob them of pretty much everything fans like about them.

As for villains the approach could work for, there are a few candidates. Famed Russian big game hunter and man of honour Kraven the Hunter (known as the antagonist of one of Spider-Man’s best comic-book storylines, Kraven’s Last Hunt) could be an interesting subject, while vicious thug-turned-hero-turned-thug-again Sandman (played by Thomas Haden Church in 2007’s Spider-Man 3) would have enough depth to sustain a non-Spidey story.

On the silver screen, Venom kind of works because in the comics the character had a life beyond Spider-Man (at least for a while) and Morbius may work his odd vampiric backstory was also developed independently of the webslinger. Only villains with enough going on OUTSIDE of Spider-Man can work without him, and that makes for a pretty short list.


Other Spider-people

Of course, given the success of Into the Spider-Verse Sony might be encouraged to continue down the route of exploring other Spider-heroes. Future versions of Spider-Man have appeared in the comics including Spider-Man 2099 (who appears in Into the Spider-Verse’s post-credits scene) and Spider-Girl, Peter and Mary Jane’s daughter. A TV series could easily explore either of these stories without mucking up established canon.

If they’d prefer to stick to the present day there are nearly a half-dozen Spider-Women whose stories could be followed (and who could exist in a world without Peter Parker if that was an issue) along with other Spider-powered heroes like Silk, Madame Web and Araña.

We’d also consider more direct spin-offs for the alternate versions of Spider-Man we saw in Into the Spider-Verse, were in not for the fact that Lord and Miller appear to be working on a live-action TV series; generally speaking, animated spin-offs from an animated movie seem more likely.


Spider-allies

Black Cat and Silver Sable aren’t the only Spider-friends who could make it on the small screen, of course. Who wouldn’t want to see a TV show about Man-Wolf, an astronaut who accidentally became a werewolf when in space (and is Spider-Man foe J Jonah Jameson’s son, fact fans)?

Or there’s Cardiac, a surgeon, biomedical researcher and vigilante who turns to corporate espionage and crime-fighting after his beloved brother dies unnecessarily at the hands of corporate indifference (they had the miracle drug ready that could have saved him, but didn’t think it was profitable enough to sell).

Honestly, the story of a doctor by day, hero by night is almost made for TV – think Grey’s Anatomy meets The Flash – while Cardiac’s anti-corporate stance would definitely make the character feel more up-to-date in the current political climate.

Alternatively, assuming the TV series didn’t need to share a direct connection with the Sony movies, another idea could be Agent Venom, a popular comic-book miniseries that saw Peter Parker’s old bully Flash Thompson bond with the Venom symbiote to perform covert missions for the government.

After losing his legs in an accident, ex-soldier Flash finds the powers of the symbiote – which include allowing him to walk – very seductive, and has to work hard to resist its dark impulses as he tries to carry out his duties. Again, you could just about imagine seeing it on US TV, couldn’t you?


Some random weirdos

At some point, we’re going to have to start scraping the barrel. Would a series about one-time Spider-Man foe The Gibbon, or the villain with kangaroo powers called Kangaroo be any good? Probably not, but Sony did manage to make a film that included a pig Spider-Man into an Oscar-winner, so you can’t rule anything out.

Frankly, we might not have picked out Morbius for a standalone movie, so it’s entirely possible that there’s a lot of Spider-Man villains and friends we haven’t even touched on here, let alone Peter Parker’s civilian supporting cast who could (arguably) be the subject of TV shows if Sony weren’t committing to only going down the superpowered route. Workplace comedy about superhero journalism at the Daily Bugle, anyone?

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In other words, it’s pretty hard to predict what route Sony are going down for their TV Marvel future – though if they aren’t currently planning a Cardiac series, we’re  ready to send over our own 10-page treatment and explanation as to why it’s an obvious hit. We’ll be in touch