What’s the Purpose Of All These Spider-Man Less Spin-offs

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What’s the Purpose Of All These Spider-Man Less Spin-offs

2024 is a big year for Sony as the studio is releasing three Spider-Man spin-offs: Kraven the Hunter, Madame Web, and Venom 3. While the jury is still out for Venom 3, the buzz for the first two films isn’t particularly high. Granted, Kraven the Hunter and Madame Web have yet to be released, so these can easily turn out to be some of the best superhero films ever made. However, given Sony’s track record, it’s likely that these films will turn out to be less than favorable. Though there’s no denying that Venom has been a massive success that helps drive these Spider-Man spin-offs, they ultimately feel pointless.

Will any of these characters show up in the next Spider-Man movie? It’s been well documented how much Sony wanted to capitalize on the Spider-man lore by making numerous spin-offs. The huge success of Tom Holland‘s version catapulted him to push forward with the concept and Venom’s surprising box office numbers have kept them going. But these spin-offs are missing a key ingredient for this world to work – Peter Parker aka Spider-Man. If the ultimate purpose of these films isn’t to build towards an Avengers-style movie that finally has Spider-Man fight these popular Marvel foes, then Sony may be doing more harm than good to the Spider-Man brand.

The Spin-offs Are Drastically Changing The Lore Of Spider-Man’s Villains

What’s the Purpose Of All These Spider-Man Less Spin-offs

Films focusing on villains can work. Todd Phillips Joker is a prime example of this. Though the Oscar-nominated filmmaker made it clear that the film isn’t based on any comic book, you can tell that Phillips did his homework about the popular DC villain. Joker does an excellent job of displaying the humanity of the icon without stripping him of his villain status. On the flip side, just because Joker worked, doesn’t mean every villain can have a solo feature.

Take Venom. The main reason that Venom exists is because he’s essentially the evil version of Spider-Man. The Venom symbiote first appeared in 1984’s Secret Wars #8 as a new black suit for the masked vigilante. Venom himself officially made his debut in 1988. Though there have been alternate versions of the character, which have seen him as the anti-hero, the key component is that he HATES Spider-Man. His character feeds off the popular DC hero because that’s where most of Venom’s characterization and development comes from.

Venom in the live-action films feels lost because he doesn’t have Spider-Man. In fact, Sony has put him in the anti-hero category because Venom’s purpose has not been presented. The same thing goes for Morbius or Kraven the Hunter; these films do take from the comics, but Spider-Man is a necessary force that drives these characters within the world. So does Madame Web. To be honest, it’s quite baffling that Madame Web has her spin-off since her main purpose in the comics was to serve Spider-Man due to her special condition that leaves her paralyzed.

These Characters Shouldn’t Be Presented As Anti-Heroes

Richard Wenk's Kraven the Hunter (2024)

Going back to how villains can have a solo feature, Sony seems afraid to truly cast these characters in the villain light. Venom is an alien symbiote that wants to eat people in the first film. There was a way to make Venom work without the need to have Spider-Man, which was by casting him as a dangerous force that required Spider-Man to make an appearance. The same goes for Morbius and Kraven the Hunter.

It’s not even clear if the plan is to build towards a Sinister Six film anymore. If it is, then these films are doing a terrible job of doing so. These characters are being presented as noble forces doing the job that Spider-Man should be doing. What’s the true purpose of Spider-Man if his villains are cleaning the streets of New York City?

I can’t make a complete judgment of Kraven the Hunter and Madame Web because these films have yet to be released. But they come across as another superhero knock-off protecting the city. Morbius is a different case as he does turn bad by the end of the film, but it’s head-scratching that he has any issues with Peter Parker because they never interact once. Some of these characters are portrayed as anti-heroes in the comics, but it’s because of their interaction with Spider-Man that they grow beyond their hatred of the masked vigilante. These live-action counterparts do have the ability to tell a compelling story without Spider-Man, especially Kraven the Hunter, but they come across as a knock-off of the man that’s supposed to be their arch-nemesis.

These Spin-offs Feel Like Colorless Cash Grabs

What’s the Purpose Of All These Spider-Man Less Spin-offs

The reason that Across the Spider-Verse series works is because it has its own identity. It feels special and new, despite being based on the lore of Spider-Man. Miles Morales is his own man, and it never feels like he’s simply a Peter Parker clone. These spin-offs feel lifeless and drab, not tapping into the comic book aspects that could make these characters pop.

Madame Web is especially notable because the film introduces several Spider-Women with little fanfare. Julia Carpenter, Anya Corazon, and Jessica Drew are all interesting characters in their own right, but they have been thrown into Madame Web for no other reason than to bank on more Spider-Man lore. These films ultimately feel soulless because they don’t have the spark and direction that Spider-Man does, and are doing more harm to the brand by trying to milk everything surrounding the character dry.

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