The box office success of Suicide Squad has proven that a villain-centric superhero movie can work. One similar film that's been heavily discussed over the years is Sinister Six, a proposed Spider-Man spinoff that seemed to die after the box office failure of Amazing Spider-Man 2. But good ideas never die; they just await their turn. What are the odds of getting a Sinister Six film?
Who Are the Sinister Six?
No Marvel superhero has a better rogues' gallery than Spider-Man, and in 1964 several key villains united against their common foe. The original Sinister Six - Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Sandman, and Electro - didn't take Spider-Man on as a group. Each wanted the satisfaction of killing Spider-Man for himself, and the webhead was forced to run the gauntlet, taking on one supervillain after another.
Although the team has only reassembled a handful of times, the legend of the Sinister Six looms large over Spider-Man mythology. Their greatest moment was in the "Ends of the Earth" arc, in which Doctor Octopus came within a hair's breadth of achieving his goal of world domination. The supervillains even managed to capture the Avengers and brainwash the heroes into serving them!
Membership of the Sinister Six has changed a lot over the years (and fluctuated even more in various animated Spider-Man shows). Probably the most interesting member of the Sinister Six is the Sandman, a reluctant supervillain who was blackmailed into joining the team in the first place. He betrayed the Sinister Six, working with Spider-Man to defeat Doctor Octopus's plans for world domination.
The History of the Sinister Six Film
Sony Pictures had seen remarkable success with the Spider-Man franchise - adjusted for inflation, all three of Sam Raimi's classic Spider-Man films broke $1 billion at the box office. In 2012, Sony relaunched the franchise with Andrew Garfield taking over from Tobey Maguire.
2012 is an important year for superhero fans. Marvel Studio's The Avengers brought the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase 1 to a climax, and proved that the concept of a shared universe could work for superhero films. The movie was a remarkable success, becoming the best-performing superhero film of all time. Within a year, DC was using Man of Steel to launch their own shared universe, while Sony was working to turn the Spider-Man franchise into a much broader universe.
Sony began to prepare for two spinoff movies; Sinister Six and Venom, with Sinister Six to be launched out of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Sinister Six was planned to be a redemption story, headed by Drew Goddard, and was slated to be released in November 2016. Unfortunately, Sony's attempt to set up the Sinister Six in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was extremely clunky, and this was one of the factors that led to The Amazing Spider-Man's critical and box office failure. Behind the scenes, Sony execs seemed unable to work out what to do with the franchise.
Enter Marvel, stage left, with an offer of sharing Spider-Man. Marvel Studios would relaunch the Spider-Man franchise as part of the MCU, with Sony retaining marketing, merchandise, and creative control. Sony initially turned the idea down, but in late 2014 the story took a radical change of direction; Sony was hacked, and countless internal emails were published on the Internet. With their internal difficulties exposed, Sony soon returned to the negotiating table, and soon Tom Holland was cast as the new Spider-Man. We've not heard mention of Sinister Six since.
Could Marvel and Sony Make Sinister Six?
In an exclusive interview with Sony head honcho Tom Rothman, The Hollywood Reporter got a chance to ask one telling question:
Since you teamed with Marvel, do you plan to make a whole Spider-Man universe? Do you have plans for more work with Marvel?
"Yes to both those questions. It’s been fantastic, our relationship with Marvel."
The Spider-Man franchise is worth a lot to Marvel, and not just because Peter Parker himself is an iconic character. Incorporating Spider-Man into the MCU creates opportunities to use characters such as Spider-Gwen, Silk, Venom, and - of course - the Sinister Six. Tom Rothman's comment - confirming that Sony and Marvel are considering "a whole Spider-Man universe" - means that nothing is off the table.
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Spider-Man: Homecoming seems to be moving in an intriguing direction, with an unusual number of supervillains either confirmed or rumored to appear in the film. The latest confirmation - that Michael Chernus is playing the Tinkerer - is particularly interesting. The Tinkerer is a genius who creates technology for other supervillains, and his very existence in the MCU opens up the possibility that he could be working for a wide range of bad guys. Given how many of Spider-Man's foes incorporate advanced technology, this could well set up enough potential characters for a Sinister Six movie.
At the same time, Sony is considering using some of the Spider-Man characters in separate films, not tied in to the MCU. We know there have been discussions about the symbiote Venom, and the mercenary Silver Sable. I don't think all of these ideas are sensible; bereft of his vendetta against Spider-Man, I don't think Venom will work. The same stands for Sinister Six; the supervillain team originally band together with a focus on defeating Spider-Man, and they lose the core of their identity if you take Spider-Man out of the story.
We know that Sony and Marvel are looking at the possibility of building a "Spider-Man universe," and Spidey's rogues' gallery will likely play some part in this. Sinister Six -originally pitched as a redemption story, but adjusted to fit into the MCU - would fit quite well. With a number of supervillains set to play a role in Spider-Man: Homecoming, I don't think we can count this film out just yet...
Do you want Marvel and Sony to make a Sinister Six film? Let me know in the comments!