Part Three: Silver Sable to the Rescue, Living Vampires, & Clones Run Amok
So here we are folks, ready to make a home run as we wrap up the journey through a Spider-Verse that never was, at least in this particular form. In Part One, we made note of the Venom solo film’s 1 year anniversary, whilst also making a compare & contrast between Spidey & another cinematic icon: James Bond. Part Two took us down a road where the stops along the way included a Sinister Six heist, a future counterpart displaced in time, & finally a nemesis that would make Hannibal Lecter quake in his boots. Now, we will assess the less developed aspects of Sony Pictures’ plans, one of which wasn’t directly stated in their early drafts of said plans, but nonetheless managed to survive & be a part of the company’s current output. As before, there’s a few new players that need a brief introduction, once again three in number.
Silver Sable: Hailing from the fictional European nation of Symkaria, & daughter of Nazi hunter Ernst Sablinova, Silver became a master of martial arts, plus a highly skilled marksman & swordsman. Taking over leadership of the Wild Pack her father once lead, Sable’s ventures expanded into the Silver Sable International company, handling security, recovery of stolen property, & apprehending of felons.
Morbius: The once world-renowned Greek bio-chemist Michael Morbius was dying from an unknown blood disease, his search for the cure through studies with vampire bats resulting in an even more tragic fate. While cured from his disease, Morbius found himself a “Living Vampire”, alive, but now a voracious blood-sucker.
Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider: Creeper scientist Miles Warren had developed something of a crush on Peter Parker’s lady love, Gwen Stacy. Following Gwen’s death at the hands of Peter’s archenemy, the Green Goblin, a devastated & obsessive Miles decided to put his expertise in the science of cloning to work. Taking DNA samples from Gwen (& later Peter himself), Miles (as the super-villain Jackal) unleashed chaos upon Peter’s life with not only a clone of Gwen, but also multiple clones of Peter, which didn’t get destroyed as easily as Parker may have hoped upon his initial discovery.
One of these clones (the first truly successful one) stayed hidden for several years, until he resurfaced when Peter’s Aunt May had suffered a stroke & was now in the hospital, to whom he paid a visit. Peter learned the clone had lived a nomadic lifestyle after he had been presumed dead, & despite attempts to do otherwise, couldn’t deny his calling to altruism as a hero, just like Peter. The clone had taken the name “Ben Reilly”, the “Ben” coming from Peter’s Uncle Ben, & the “Reilly” coming from Aunt May’s maiden name. Dyeing his hair blond, & fashioning his own makeshift Spider-Man outfit, Ben became the Scarlet Spider, helping Peter sort out the remaining ramifications of the Jackal’s cloning experiments, & even taking Peter’s place for a time as Spider-Man when the duo were lead to believe that Ben, not Peter, was the original who had been cloned.
With those final introductions made, let’s get to what I, in my opinion, consider the “bad” & the “brief” out of the way. Since Phase Two of Sony’s Spider-Verse hadn’t been developed near as much as the first phase that lead into their Maximum Carnage adaptation, these were pretty much only suggestions made by Juan Capdet (who also outlined Phase One). Even so, the theme of this Phase Two was clear: revisiting the past, primarily when it concerned Peter’s deceased beloved, Gwen Stacy.
The Bad: One of the ideas proposed was something of an interquel or flashback film that would have occurred between the events of The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) & The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). In it, Gwen would’ve obviously been alive, allowing actress Emma Stone to return. As for villains, Norman Osborn, (played by Chris Cooper) had not yet expired from his case of Retroviral Hyperplasia, so he hires big game hunter/mercenary Kraven to track down Spider-Man & retrieve his blood, in hopes it will cure him.
My Notes: Anyone who’s seen Amazing 2 will be getting deja vu right about now, since this scheme is the exact same as Harry Osborn’s, which in turn brings up the first red flag that I have with this idea. Upon receiving Spidey’s blood, Norman is transformed into the Green Goblin, again just like his son Harry, reasons being, as established by the “rules” of the Amazing franchise, that those who don’t share Richard Parker’s DNA might suffer a violent reaction to the spider-enhanced blood of Peter entering their own bloodstream, or at the very least not receive spider-powers. The difference here is that Norman would become a hulking creature that throws fireballs, not unlike the Ultimate Comics version of said character. This would be wholly inconsistent with what happens to Harry in the chronologically later film, which was instead a rapid acceleration of Harry’s own degenerative state, only tempered by the healing properties of his suit.
My lack of interest in the Kraven character aside, I could actually entertain the role he enacts in this plot, because it would help set-up the later Clone Saga adaptation that was inbound. However, a repeat of the Goblin element, which only serves to try & explain why Norman is in such a weakened state prior to his death in Amazing 2 (despite, you know, having a terminal illness), is ultimately unnecessary. While we’re at it, there were loose threads concerning an Amazing Spider-Man 3 storyline floating about that would also be ultimately rendered unnecessary.
In said threads, Peter would use his blood to resurrect not only Gwen, but others, such as her father, police Captain George Stacy (played by Denis Leary), & perhaps even his Uncle Ben (played by Martin Sheen). Why Peter’s blood would suddenly resurrect people is anyone’s guess, but it ultimately was a half-baked idea. Also deleted from Amazing 2 would’ve been the end-credit tease of Norman’s head being kept in a glass case somewhere in the bowels of Oscorp, waiting to be cloned himself, to later lead the Sinister Six. Why they were so insistent on bringing Norman back as the Goblin is also somewhat unusual, considering Harry had already become a version of the character, & was thus representing Goblin’s place in the position of archenemy.
As time with these developing ideas continued, it became clear that the Sinister Six film (of which we discussed in my previous article) was the obvious choice as sequel to Amazing 2, & thus any character developments related to Peter Parker would occur within the story to said film. That all being said, a version of this project, tentatively titled The Amazing Spider-Man: Kraven, in which Peter was to face off against just Kraven, could work as a first film in Phase Two, the blood Kraven retrieves being stolen by Miles Warren, & therefore not reaching Norman Osborn, as intended.
The Brief: The most straightforward idea suggested for Phase Two, was a sequel to the Spider-Man 2099 film from the previous phase, which would find Miguel O’Hara still marooned in the present day & uncovering a plot to kill one of his ancestors, Tiberius Stone. The villain of the piece would’ve been Mac Gargan, aka The Scorpion. The end result would’ve been Back to the Future Meets Spider-Man, Miguel all the while trying to keep himself from being wiped out of existence.
By far one of the most unexpected out of Sony’s ideas for films in the Spider-Verse was a project that focused on Silver Sable. Even after the Amazing series was discontinued, a version was proposed that teamed Silver up with Black Cat, undoubtedly because she hadn’t being properly explored in the films that were now canned. This theoretical project, dubbed Silver & Black, & still in active development, has hit a bit of road-bump as of late, apparently because the script couldn’t be cracked under one of the attached directors. This is somewhat amusing, as the skeleton of the film’s story had already been laid out when it was part of the Amazing franchise’s continuity.
Pitched as a sequel to the Sinister Six film, Silver would’ve been tasked with rescuing her father from Doctor Octopus/Doc Ock, who also captured Spider-Man as a means to keep him from interfering with Ock’s scheme. Said scheme would’ve featured Pandora’s Box manipulating space & time so Ock could be reunited with his deceased wife (someone obviously hadn’t told Ock about Miles Warren’s cloning research). Provided that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) had already been made & released, there would no longer be any need to fear that the animated film’s thunder had been stolen, like it would’ve been had Sinister Six retained this element. Black Cat would’ve teamed with Silver & a newly assembled Wild Pack to rescue both Ernst & Spidey, the latter being of interest to Cat.
The main drive to getting this film green-lit by the studio was the desire of producer Amy Pascal (as well as select others) to have an “all girls” superhero flick hit the market before anyone else had made one. Such was the ambition behind this motivation, that the project was codenamed “Glass Ceiling”. Now, in a world that has produced such hamfisted efforts as the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, I think it’s safe to say, it would’ve been much more preferable that, instead of a Wild Pack consisting entirely of various obscure female characters, the film featured the gender/sex mixed variety the comics themselves had provided. With Silver & Black Cat (obviously both women) leading the charge, I think the “girl power” quota would’ve been met, without being too forced.
My Notes: With a potentially forced feminist agenda cast aside, a refined plot for Silver & Black would entail the duo forming a new Wild Pack comprised of Sandman, Rocket Racer, Prowler, & The Lizard. The last choice would be in reference to Dr. Curt Connors being left alive at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man, & after a lengthy absence in the films, making his comeback, mastering his beastly alter-ego so it’d be of use to the Pack. Connors was also supposed to consult the Sinister Six during their efforts to stop Venom & Carnage in the first plot that was purposed for the SS film.
Other juicy twists to the plot would involve an altered tidbit from Sam Raimi’s abandoned Spider-Man 4, in which Felicia Hardy would be the daughter of Adrian Toomes/The Vulture, & thus The Vulturess, instead of the Black Cat. For Silver & Black, Felicia would remain the Black Cat, but her parentage would still involve Adrian as her father. And continuing in the vein of dropped elements from previous films (Spider-Man 3 specifically), Adrian would also have been a former cellmate of Flint Marko/Sandman, the two having initially bonded over both being fathers with daughters, but then bitterly parting after Adrian’s betrayal of the team in the Sinister Six film. Flint would in turn have a soft spot for Felicia after realizing her disapproval of Adrian’s actions, but gradually form a bond with Silver, like his comic counterpart.
Finally, besides Doc Ock, another villain was intended to be featured, Mr. Negative. However, since these notes are something of a daydream as it is, an iconic Marvel villain I always figured had the potential to be a better archenemy to Silver Sable (rather than Captain America) was the Red Skull. Who better for the daughter of a Nazi hunter to have as a nemesis than a super Nazi adorned with a crimson cranium? Of course, this character’s legal rights were in possession of the MCU & Disney, so the only way he could be featured was if Sony & Marvel had made a deal permitting his use. Still, would’ve made for a nice surprise reveal, Red Skull’s motivation being revenge against Silver’s father.
Leading into our final two films, one idea that was rattling around to be included in the Silver Sable project was to have a Spider-Woman swing in to save the heroes from a tight spot in the film’s finale. Said Spider-Woman wouldn’t have been Jessica Drew or Julia Carpenter, but none other than Gwen Stacy, this reveal being considered before the Spider-Gwen character had even been created in the comics yet. Spider-Gwen would leave Peter Parker stunned, the reveal of Stacy as the Spider-Woman leading into the culmination of Phase Two, an adaptation of the Clone Saga from the comics. My Notes: Rather than being Gwen from another dimension, as was portrayed in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), this Gwen would’ve been a clone created by Miles Warren/Jackal, who like his comic counterpart had been obsessed with Stacy, but for the film version was an Oscorp employee that had taken notice of Gwen during her time as an intern. Miles would’ve created a clone of Peter as well, Ben Reilly, who would eventually come to see Peter as an ally, & thus turn on his master. With the clones turning against him, Miles would seek the assistance of another Oscorp employee, Alistair Smythe (introduced in Amazing 2) who would then lend Miles the assistance of his Spider-Slayer robots. This film’s proposed title was The Amazing Spider-Man: Jackal.
And for final note on this sweeping saga that never was, there is a film that is still moving forward, Morbius, slated for release in July of 2020 & starring Jared Leto. Morbius honestly could have been put in either phase that Sony was developing, as he played a part in the Maximum Carnage story they were building towards. But, he also could have worked in the Clone Saga adaptation, as a peer of Miles Warren who then turns on him once he realizes the madness that Warren has unleashed with the clones. For now, we’ll just have to see where the Living Vampire factors into Sony’s plans as they move forward with Venom, & for better or worse, Tom Holland’s incarnation of Spider-Man.