Many moviegoers are not aware that even though Marvel Comics has gained control over some of the film projects based on their comic book properties, they still do not own all of them. 20th Century Fox still owns Wolverine, the X-Men and Magneto (all expected to return as sequels in the next couple of years) and Sony Pictures still owns the biggest Marvel Comics flagship character to date, Spider-Man.
Even though the third outing was a critical dud, it still raked in plenty of dough. The movie franchise that popularized comic book superheroes more than any other since Superman has been significantly absent in recent years. This is probably due to the fact that few film franchises have ever made it past 3 movies (except for Superman and to some extent Batman and the X-Men).
With such an eager audience waiting on more web spinning action, what can the hold up possibly be?
The answer may lie in the details of this brief from CinemaSpy that contains news of three more films and the hints at possibility of a complete overhaul. With so much in the mix, it’s no wonder there has been no real momentum.
James Vanderbilt, who wrote the first draft of the upcoming Spider-Man 4, has been brought on by Sony Pictures to write Spider-Man 5 and Spider-Man 6. No word if those two films would continue a storyline begun in Spider-Man 4, or if they might take the franchise back to basics.
Sam Raimi, who helmed the first three Spider-Man movies and will direct Spider-Man 4, due in theaters in the summer of 2011, already has another big project in the planning stages: Warner Bros.’ adaptation of the popular computer game ‘World of Warcraft’. Meanwhile, stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst — who play Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane-Watson, respectively — are not confirmed past the fourth film.
According to a report in Variety, Sony does plan for Spider-Man 5 and 6 to be interconnected and shot back-to-back, thereby avoiding the long delay between Spider-Man 3 and 4. Over four years will have elapsed when Spider-Man 4 is finally released.
To date, there has been no confirmation which comic book villain will appear opposite Spider-Man in the series’ fourth installment, although The Lizard, Morbius, the Black Cat and Carnage have all been rumored. Dylan Baker appeared in the first three films as The Lizard’s alter-ego Dr. Curt Conners, but has not been officially cast in Spider-Man 4.
Superman and Batman, where are you?
Due to the recent ruling rewarding ownership of Superman to the Seigel and Shuster estates, Warner Bros. is legally obligated to begin production of a Superman film by 2011 if they wish to revisit their blue boyscout on the silver screen.
To date, no plans have developed on the Batman movie front and personally I doubt that Chris Nolan or Christian Bale will be coming back to that franchise due to the loss of Heath Ledger and the possible cheapening of the first two films if the third is not up to par.
Spider-Man, the Avengers and Green Lantern to the rescue?
Spider-Man 4 is expected to screen in 2011 (I have written about my theories on the plot of the film here), the same year that Marvel’s Avengers film (if the Thor and Captain America movies keep to schedule) and the Warner Bros.’ Green Lantern movie premiere, resulting what could be a repeat of 2008′s Summer comic book blockbusters (Iron Man, Dark Knight and Hulk).