“A hero is only as great as his villain,” or so the saying goes. And every good hero needs an arch nemesis. Batman has the Joker. Daredevil has Kingpin. Captain America has the Red Skull.
And when it comes to supervillains, few heroes have nearly as robust a rogue’s gallery as Spider-Man. In addition to his prototypical adversary, the Green Goblin, he has a veritable menagerie to square off against. From Doctor Octopus to the Jackal, or the Lizard to the Vulture, Spider-Man’s best showdowns have been against similarly animal-themed superhumans.
The historic problem with superhero movies is that they have always recognized this inherent strength in their franchises, and crammed as many of their ne’er-do-wells into the latest installment of their long-running franchises. Most of these villains are robust enough to stand on their own against their goody two-shoed rivals, but two, three and even four of them in a single movie is not generally out of the question.
The worst of these kinds of movies almost always have the most bad-guys crammed into the same runtime. Batman & Robin, which tanked the entire genre when it was released in 1997, had Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy and Bane sharing the screen opposite of just as many members of the Bat family. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had Rhino, Electro and the Green Goblin all at once, in addition to setting up the entirety of the Sinister Six for a presumed third movie.
So you’d think that Sony would have learned their lesson by now when it came to over-stuffing their comic book movies with too many villains. One is enough. Two can work. But that’s it. Leave the rest for the sequels.
That, however, is not the case for their upcoming Spider-Man spinoff movie Silver & Black. As you might recall, this is the Spider-Man movie that won’t actually feature your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, nor will it be connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in any way. This is just Sony exploiting their tenuous legal grasp on the Spider-Man film rights after trading it back to Marvel when it was apparent that the Amazing Spider-Man movies were going nowhere fast.
Rather than Spider-Man himself, the film will mainline a team-up of two of his romantic interests: Black Cat and Silver Sable. Black Cat started off as a busty Catwoman knock-off that’s actually grown into an interesting character by becoming the new Kingpin in the Spider-Man comics. Silver Sable is an unfortunate leftover from the era of comics where simply giving a character a big gun was enough to get them a recurring role in big-name books: she’s a tough-as-nails mercenary and sometimes Hero for Hire.
We now know who the not so dynamic duo will be squaring off against in their big screen debut and, boy, is it a doozy. They will be facing not two nor three nor four, but five supervillains. They’re blowing through five of some of the most notable and interesting villains this side of Queens and they’re not even batting an eye about it.
From what we’re currently being told, the foremost antagonist of the film is going to be Gaunt: a little-known but longstanding Spider-Man villain who debuted back in 1966’s Amazing Spider-Man #37. He’s a robotics expert with a tricked-out, exoskeletal suit and apparently also has it in for Silver Sable. He outfits a pair of strong-armed thugs with high-tech weaponry to take down the object of his outrage.
The first of these is fan-favorite villain the Scorpion, who first appeared in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, who will come with his trademark robotic scorpion tail. The second will be Tarantula, a South-American terrorist whose trademark weapons are boots with retractable, drug-tipped blades hidden in the soles (evidently given to him by Gaunt within the context of the movie).
Operating independent of Gaunt’s / Scorpion’s / Tarantula’s plans is Tombstone, a Harlem-based gangster who’s apparent mission is to reclaim something Black Cat stole from him. He is a Gaunt, imposing figure that often works as hired muscle for high-end crime lords, so his presence naturally begs the question if the likes of the Kingpin, Silvermane or Hammerhead will show up as well.
Rounding out this already enormous cast is the Chameleon. Debuting as one of Spider-Man’s first villains — way, way back in Amazing Spider-Man #1 — Chameleon was a Russian spy capable of changing his appearance in order to perfectly disguise himself as anybody he chose. The movie has him as Silver Sable’s South American contact, who she evidently goes to for information on Tarantula.
The more we learn about this movie, the more utterly exhausting it all sounds. The idea is terrible enough on its surface, and then they go and blow through nearly a half-dozen of Spidey’s more memorable villains. It’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 all over again, only this time without the benefit of so much as a Spider-Man cameo waiting in the wing.
I can’t think of a single reason of why it would be worth watching in the first place. It’s already confusing enough trying to figure out if these movies are supposed to be canonical with the MCU (they’re not), but now having to put up with all of these shoehorned-in, pointlessly reimagined villains feels like insult to injury. Enough with these Sony-made Spider-movies already!
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