spider-man universeSony

Ever since Marvel pulled off it's fantastic, fantastically profitable Marvel Universe, studios have been looking to do the same with their own stable of characters. Earlier this week it was announced that Simon Kinberg, working with Fox, would try to make a shared universe that its two franchises ("X-Men" and "Fantastic Four") could jointly inhabit. And now comes word that, on an even larger and more ambitious scale, Sony plans to take its rights to "Spider-Man" and spin it into an entire web slinger-based universe. Although not necessarily in the ways you'd expect.

The announcement, as the Hollywood Reporter points out, was leaked via a viral website tied into next summer's "Amazing Spider-Man 2." The announcement proclaimed, that in addition to a third and fourth "Amazing Spider-Man" movie (coming in 2016 and 2018, respectively), there will be a spin-off focused on beloved villain "Venom," to be written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (who wrote the second film and are on board to pen the third) along with Ed Solomon ("Men in Black," "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure"), with Kurtzman eyed to direct.

Additionally, Drew Goddard, a longtime Joss Whedon confederate and writer and show-runner for Marvel and Netflix's upcoming "Daredevil" series, will write (and possibly direct) a movie based on "The Sinister Six," which collects a handful of Spider-Man's very best foes and has them doing some kind of group criminal chicanery.

"The Spider-Man film franchise is one of our studio's greatest assets," said Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad. "We are thrilled with the creative team we have assembled to delve more deeply into the world that Marc, Avi and Matt have begun to explore in 'The Amazing Spider-Man' and 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2.' We believe that Marc, Alex, and Drew have the uniquely exciting visions for how to expand the Spider-Man universe in each of these upcoming films."

For those of you who have moved out of your parents' basement, Venom was a sentient life form who grafted on to Spider-Man for a while, giving him that neat black suit, before melding with Parker's Daily Bugle rival Eddie Brock (played in "Spider-Man 3" by Topher Grace). That's when he really became Venom -- a scary, monstrous outer-space bad guy. The Sinister Six, meanwhile, have long been rumored to be in "Amazing Spider-Man 2" and now we know why. They're not just going to be Spider-Man's foil in an upcoming film, they're going to have their own franchise. Their line-up always changes, but depending on who you believe, by the end of "Amazing Spider-Man 2" we will already have gotten a look at Lizard, Green Goblin, Rhino, Electro, and possibly Vulture and the Black Cat. This monster mash is about to turn into a graveyard smash!

In sadder, more tangentially related "Spider-Man" news, its problem-plagued Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," will be dark for good after the first of the year. Sometimes there are foes Spider-Man just can't beat. Like poor matinee attendance.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Movie Poster
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
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