We don't yet know much about Sony's Silver & Black, the Spider-Man-spinoff starring Silver Sable and the Black Cat. But that hasn't stopped rumors from building that the film will include a bevy of key Spider-Man villains, and will also lay the groundwork for interweaving the Sony films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
If these rumors are true, then we can expect to see a whole new version of Norman Osborn in the movie...
Here's What We Know
According to That Hashtag Show, Sony is looking to cast a voice actor to play the part of Norman Osborn in Silver & Black. The idea is to give Norman Osborn a strong background presence in the film, but leave it open for #Marvel Studios to cast someone in the role should they wish to use Osborn in the #MCU. The film will see Osborn represented by Oscorp vice president Charles Standish, who'll be acting in his boss's interests.
Now, we're still in rumor mill territory here, but I tend to work by what I call the "Rule of Three." I don't view a rumor as believable until I've seen it put out by three independent sources, and we're now at that stage. Back in May, The Splash Report published what they called a "hot tip," revealing that Silver & Black will see Silver Sable hired by the government to bring in hacker/thief Felicia Hardy, a.k.a. the Black Cat. They claimed the script included a vast number of #SpiderMan secondary characters, including the Chameleon, Dominic Fortune, Jessica Drew, Kraven the Hunter, Tombstone and Norman Osborn. They also dropped in a reference to Charles Standish.
At the time, I took it with a serious pinch of salt; for one thing, I personally think Sony would be unwise to introduce so many characters and concepts in one film. It sounds disturbingly similar to the mistakes that the studio made with Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and I'd like to think Sony has learned from those two films. In contrast, MCUExchange believed it — and claimed it dovetailed with reports they'd received, too.
Now we have a third source suggesting that Norman Osborn will play a role in Silver & Black, and in an intriguing, subtle way.
A Smart Approach
Sony and Marvel are clearly in deep behind-the-scenes wrangling over whether or not the Sony spinoffs will be connected to the wider #MCU. The issue became particularly notable during pre-release interviews for Spider-Man: Homecoming, with Marvel visionary Kevin Feige and Homecoming producer Amy Pascal giving a dizzying range of contradictory statements. The last we heard, back in July, these Sony spinoffs are about as connected to the MCU as Fox's X-Men films.
If That Hashtag Show's source is correct, Sony is playing it cautiously. While they want to introduce major players like Norman Osborn into the film, they're doing it in a subtle way — ensuring Marvel Studios can still use the character without there being any notable contradiction.
It makes sense that Marvel may want to use Norman Osborn; in the last decade he's become a far more dangerous foe in the comics. He took charge of the U.S. government's Thunderbolts program, and wound up leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which he renamed H.A.M.M.E.R.) in the aftermath of 2008's "Secret Invasion." He even led his own Dark Avengers as the Iron Patriot, donning armor he stole from Tony Stark!
The Marvel movies recently introduced Baron Zemo, founder of the Thunderbolts, and the Skrulls — the villains of "Secret Invasion" — are set to be introduced in 2019's Captain Marvel. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Marvel introduce Norman Osborn, and Sony's cautious approach would ensure the character didn't become a sticking point between the two studios.
But Would Marvel Really Want To Use Norman Osborn?
Sony's efforts may be in vain, though. In the run-up to Homecoming, both Feige and Pascal insisted that they'd be avoiding villains we've seen in previous Spider-Man films. As Pascal explained:
"There are certain characters I don't think there’s anything more to say about them right this minute... I don’t know how many more times we can do the Green Goblin."
Homecoming even went so far as to heavily adapt the classic Green Goblin narrative, revealing that Michael Keaton's Vulture was actually the father of Peter's high-school crush! Certain scenes played a deliberate homage to the Green Goblin, making sure fans spotted the thematic nods.
But notice how precise Pascal's comments are. She refers to the Green Goblin; she doesn't mention Norman Osborn. As I've mentioned, over in the comics Osborn has evolved far beyond simply being the Green Goblin. We've certainly never seen Osborn take on the kind of role he played in "Secret Invasion" and beyond.
Right now, we're still in rumor territory, and this should be taken with ample skepticism. That said, we've now had three independent sources give the same details, and it's looking increasingly likely that Norman Osborn will have a (limited) presence in Silver & Black. As to whether or not that means he'll make his way into the MCU? That's probably between Kevin Feige and Sony CEO Tom Rothman!