Though the studio is certainly celebrating the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios was once again called out this weekend for its lack of a female superhero movie, and rightfully so. The superhero genre is bigger than ever, but even in the midst of numerous $200 million plus tentpoles from various studios, we have yet to see a female-led franchise pic. All of this despite the fact that female moviegoers make up a hefty portion of audiences (the Guardians opening weekend was 44% female—the biggest yet for a Marvel movie), and yet are massively underrepresented at the marketplace. When studios do decide to make quality female-led features, the results speak for themselves. Just look at the grosses of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen.
And so now it looks like the time has finally come for one of the majors to move forward with a female-led superhero pic, but it’s actually coming from the least likely of sources: Sony Pictures. The studio holds the rights to just one comic-book franchise, Spider-Man, but now it appears that they’re keen on breaking new ground with a female Spider-Man spinoff movie, which could hit theaters as soon as 2017. Much more on this film after the jump.
Sony hit a rough patch with this May’s release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. At first glance, the film’s $707 million worldwide box office might look impressive. However, Sony was hoping to crack the $1 billion mark with the extremely expensive sequel, and the film ended up grossing less than its predecessor. In fact, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 now stands as the lowest grossing Spidey entry to date.
Prior to the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony was touting big plans for its franchise, taking a cue from Marvel and expanding the Spider-Man universe to include The Amazing Spider-Man 3 in 2016 followed by The Sinister Six and Venom spinoff movies. Those plans have now been retooled, with Sony instead putting Sinister Six on the frontburner with a November 11, 2016 release date for the Drew Goddard-helmed pic, while Spider-Man 3 has been pushed to 2018.
But that’s not the end of Sony’s further restructuring of the franchise, as Deadline now reports that the studio is putting together a female superhero movie set within the Spider-Man universe, which is being eyed for a 2017 release date. Sony has already tapped Lisa Joy Nolan to pen the script, whose credits include Burn Notice and the upcoming Westworld TV remake. She also happens to be the wife of The Dark Knight screenwriter Jonathan Nolan, brother to Christopher Nolan.
It’s unclear which character(s) will lead this untitled film, but the Spidey universe has a solid gallery of female superhero characters to choose from. The obvious choice is Black Cat aka Felicia Hardy, who was played by Felicity Jones in what amounted to basically a cameo in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. There’s also Silver Sable and Spider-Girl. Someone more knowledgeable about comics than I probably has a better idea of who might be the best fit to lead a superhero pic on her own.
This seems like a really smart move on Sony’s part. Audiences are clearly feeling Spider-Man fatigue despite the fact that Andrew Garfield is excellent in the lead role, so there’s no harm in putting the principal franchise on the backburner for a few years. In the meantime, while Marvel, Warner Bros., and Fox are “too busy” to get a female-led superhero movie going, Sony has the opportunity to jump in and be the first out of the gate. Now the next step is hiring a talented filmmaker to ensure that the female Spider-Man movie is of high quality.
Michelle MacLaren has been doing incredible work as a television director for years on series like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. It’s high time she made the move to features, and what better way to signal that you’re serious about making a genuinely good female Spider-Man movie than hiring an excellent female director to bring the film to fruition?
Though Sony’s handling of the current Spider-Man franchise hasn’t been extremely encouraging, I’m hopeful that Amy Pascal and Co. will make the right decision here. Marc Webb was an intriguing and promising choice to lead the first redo, so my fingers are crossed that Sony can make a similarly bold move in signing a female director to steer this groundbreaking female superhero movie to success.