When Marvel and Sony made their agreement, Marvel got a lot more back than just the rights to your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man! He's got one of the largest rogue's galleries in comics, and his supporting cast - which has included characters such as Ben Urich, who appeared in Marvel's Daredevil Netflix series - is just as vast. Here are the top ten characters I’m excited to realise Marvel can now use with confidence…
Marvel have the option of bringing Blade back to the forefront – and now they once again have the option to use the Living Vampire! The ties between Spider-Man and cursed genius Michael Morbius have always been fascinating, and Kevin Feige has happily chatted about how he’d like to use some of Spider-Man’s rogue’s gallery who haven’t seen the big screen yet.
OK, so they’d probably want to get rid of the fishbowl, but Mysterio – with his ridiculous sense of dramatics – is a character Marvel could have real fun with. As with many of Spider-Man’s villains, the potential for Mysterio is of a street-level criminal who’s learned to use tech to his advantage, playing to his enemies’ fears and causing general hallucinations. Just don’t cross him with Daredevil – I doubt he’d last more than two seconds.
Oh, and do get rid of the fishbowl head.
Spider-Man’s first super-villain, the Chameleon is a super-spy with tremendous shapeshifting powers. It’s not hard to see how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could use such a character – the face-blending technology has already been used a lot there, and bringing in a freelance spy who exploited it ruthlessly could be tremendous fun.
Jessica Drew’s Spider-Woman is an intriguing character, with a rich history of espionage behind her. Beloved of comic book writer Brian Bendis, she became a major character in his New Avengers run, and she's been experience a resurgence in popularity ever since. This is one character who Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could have serious fun with, as she’s played the sleeper agent in Hydra for Nick Fury before, and her questionable loyalties have led to some fun comics. The above is her recent redesign.
Ironically enough, it’s actually possible that Marvel had retained the rights to Jessica Drew anyway. Although she was originally created to let Marvel trademark the name ‘Spider-Woman’, she’s actually rarely had much to do with Spider-Man, and only after the recent “Spider-Verse” event has she been marketed as part of the wider range of Spider-Man books.
6. CLOAK AND DAGGER
Teenagers who got their powers from a weird cocktail of drugs, Cloak and Dagger are street-level heroes who contrast light and dark. Cloak has access to the twisted Darkforce Dimension, while Dagger wields devastating light blades. Together, they’ve gone to war on organised crime, and I can see real potential for them – perhaps even in their own Netflix series.
Again, it’s actually possible that Marvel have had the licence to these two all along, but their constant presence as Spider-Man backups may have complicated it. The show was in development with ABC not long ago, but we haven't heard anything for a while...
When the Spider-Gwen phenomenon kicked off, Sony were noted for being fascinated by it. Fan reception of the five-issue ongoing has generally been positive, although there were a few missteps, and Marvel are promising to keep the breakout character front-and-centre in their All-New, All-Different Marvel range.
The reboot opens up the possibility to using Gwen Stacy as a character once again, while Doctor Strange promises to introduce alternate universes – meaning Spider-Gwen may actually be on the horizon.
With Avengers: Infinity War taking the team into space, this might be the opportunity for Spider-Man to be exposed to a strange alien symbiote – with the resulting villain Venom! Venom is a fan-favourite who certainly deserves to exist in the Marvel Universe, even if only because Marvel could swiftly cycle through Eddie Brock’s ‘90s-esque incarnation of the character and establish Flash Thompson as Agent Venom! They might not choose to take that approach, though, if they’re wanting to keep Flash at high school with Peter. Still, even after the lacklustre appearance in Spider-Man 3, fans are sure to want to see Venom in action…
3. BLACK CAT
Felicia Hardy is a friend / enemy / lover of Spider-Man’s, a sexy cat-burglar who knows how to turn heads. She’s gone through countless characters arcs in the comics, and is a firm fan favourite. She’s also another character who could easily jump between mediums, from high school friend of Peter Parker’s to cat-burglar cameo in a Daredevil Netflix series, perhaps. If she’s played right, she’ll come across as a lot more than just Marvel’s version of Catwoman.
2. J. JONAH JAMESON
Come on, don't waste Jolly Jonah Jameson as only being a supporting character in the Spider-Man movies - even if previous Spider-Man moves did get him so, so right! Instead, this is Marvel's chance to embed Jameson as a key national figure in journalism, with frequent cameo appearances and perhaps even recurring roles in their Netflix series as he campaigns against these vigilantes!
Jameson is a chance to give a voice to those who distrust superheroes - not least because he, unlike many, doesn't turn into a supervillain. Instead, Jameson is simply opposed to the concept of superheroes from an ideological perspective, and that makes him an intriguing character.
1. NORMAN OSBORN – Marvel’s big chance for their next recurring villain
Better known as the Green Goblin, Norman Osborn has plagued Spider-Man’s life since the 1960s – and was a major antagonist in Sony’s movies, too. But the last decade of comics has elevated Norman Osborn to a place he’s never held before, where he became a wealthy industrialist and ultimately wound up taking over S.H.I.E.L.D. So began the so-called "Dark Reign", a period of time where the villains had all the power, and where the heroes were hunted.
Being able to use Norman Osborn opens up so many possibilities for Marvel. Rather than just use him as a one-off villain, they could have him a recurring character just as much as the heroes – a business rival for Tony Stark, with growing political influence, and his son Harry at school with Peter Parker. You could even introduce him in Captain America: Civil War as a major proponent of registration, and base Spider-Man in a world where it’s now illegal to be an unregistered super-hero, and where Norman Osborn rules the roost. The character is so very rich in potential.
So there you have it - my top ten characters who I feel could seriously benefit the Marvel Cinematic Universe! One thing's for sure, Marvel's deal with Sony has opened up a whole world of possibilities. We can only wait and see how those possibilities are realised...