Ready for the SMU as opposed to the MCU? Sony dropped a pretty big bombshell today by announcing that Tom Hardy is officially set to play Eddie Brock in the upcoming Venom movie. Tom Hardy is one of the most in-demand and talented actors working right now, so it is no doubt a huge deal and a credit to the project. But in the announcement, Sony also confirmed that they are starting their own cinematic universe, currently dubbed Sony's Marvel Universe.
Sony took to Twitter to announce that Tom Hardy will be leading the R-rated adaptation, simply titled Venom, while also posting a picture of the actor wearing a shirt with the Spider-Man villain on it. In the caption provided with the photo, the studio announced that production on Venom starts this fall, but more importantly, it will kick off Sony's Marvel Universe. Here's what they had to say about it.
"Tom Hardy is Eddie Brock in #Venom, the upcoming film from Sony's Marvel Universe releasing October 5, 2018, production starts this fall."
It had previously been reported by publications like Collider that Sony did have plans to create their own Marvel movie universe using the Spider-Man characters that they own, but those plans had not been publicly confirmed by the studio. That makes this a huge deal. Not only because we are going to see an interconnected Marvel universe with lesser-known Marvel characters from the Spider-Man comics, but because these movies will not at all be connected to what is going on in the MCU. That means they will, at least in some way, represent direct competition to the MCU. There are other implications to this as well.
Sony and Marvel Studios have a contract to allow for Peter Parker/Spider-Man appear in the MCU, with Tom Holland playing the character at least through the end of 2019. The details of that deal aren't known to the public, but if Sony is going to be using other characters from the Spider-Man comics in their own movies, what does that mean for the MCU? Can Marvel Studios not use characters like Venom even if they recast them? To that point, could we be seeing different versions of the same characters running around in different movies in the near future? There are at least some negative implications here. If the characters being used for these movies in Sony's Marvel Universe can't be used for MCU Spider-Man movies, that will take a lot of important characters off the table.
In addition to Venom, which is set to be directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), Sony is also working on a Black Cat and Silver Sable movie. There is no word on a release date for that, or what other characters may be looking at getting their own movies, but Sony is planning on making use of what Marvel characters they have. Cinematic universes are all the rage in Hollywood right now, so it makes total sense that Sony would want to do this. It's just a matter of if they can make it work. Especially without Spider-Man.