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February 14, 2018

‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Chaos Walking’ Writers Join Sony’s Next Spider-Man Spin-Off

The Silver Sable and Black Cat movie ‘Silver and Black’ just lined up some more amazing talent.

Less than a week after their shadowy first trailer for Venom garnered a muted reaction (#FindVenom), Sony is moving forward with the next addition to their fledgling Spider-Man expanded universe. The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Lindsey Beer and Geneva Robertson-Dworet will rewrite Gina Prince-Bythewood‘s first draft of Silver and Black, the movie focused on comic book characters Silver Sable and Black Cat. Beer has done work on the upcoming YA adaptation Chaos Walking (starring Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s Tom Holland), while Robertson-Dworet turned in drafts of the new Tomb Raider reboot and Marvel’s Captain Marvel. 

Sony has been flirting with a film starring Marvel’s Black Cat since at least 2013, when they cast Felicity Jones as the character in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. That iteration of the popular comic book figure is a reminder of the studio’s era of throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-hope-something-anything-sticks-please-god-help-us. It seemed briefly in the wake of Sony’s deal with Marvel Studios that these projects would die, but Kevin Feige’s shot in the arms seems to have only emboldened executives determined to parlay their one superhero character into an expansive universe of films.

Prince-Bythewood, director of The Secret Life of Bees and Beyond the Lights, was hired last year to helm Silver and Black, which will team Black Cat (presumably played by a different actress) with Silver Sable, another antihero from Spider-Man comics. The relatively smooth Venom production has been encouraging for the certainty of this project actually happening, and the film is set to similarly shoot in Atlanta sometime this year.

Yet Silver and Black points towards an unmoored and peculiar future for Sony’s superhero films. Projects like Venom, Silver and Black, and the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will reportedly have no connection to the young, spunky Spider-Man introduced in last summer’s Homecoming. The current resurgence of interest in Holland’s fresh, comics-accurate Spidey won’t lift these films to higher ground, because they have no relation to one another. They’re relics of an entirely separate period for the character, a product of a halfway ballsy corporate branding exercise that assumes audiences will feign interest in anything even remotely related to a property they enjoy.

It’s the height of hubris to leap from “People like what Marvel did with our character!” to “People will like what we do with a bunch of unrelated characters,” but Silver and Black at least has put together an impressive team to push that narrative. In a move that other studios have bungled consistently, Sony has put together a team of female talent to make a movie about female characters. In today’s gaffe-strewn Hollywood landscape, even that bare minimum of accomplishment should be rewarded. Prince-Bythewood is likewise a deserving candidate for this kind of job. She’s only ever worked on low-budget fare, but if someone like Colin Trevorrow can jump directly from Safety Not Guaranteed to a $200 million Jurassic Park sequel, it’s only reasonable that a woman of color working at a much higher creative level than Trevorrow should be afforded the same treatment.

Once again, in an ideal world, this would be the type of hire we take for granted. Instead, mediocre white men fail upward and the success of talent like Prince-Bythewood or Ava DuVernay is a fortunate exception to Hollywood’s rules. If studios insist on funneling money into mediocre blockbusters, movement towards a more progressive and diverse industry is the least we can ask.

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