The tug of war over the Spider-Man movie franchise between Sony and Disney that had sent social media into a frenzy last year was largely settled, with the two studios working out a plan to use the character in their separate film franchises. Now, IGN has confirmed that Sony has given an official name to the series of films they plan to make using characters from Marvel Comics: Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters.
It's not as catchy as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the acronym SPUMC doesn't have quite the same ring to it as the MCU. But it does the job of indicating that these films are based on the immensely popular Marvel characters, and don't rely solely on Spider-Man to attract viewers.
Sony owns the rights to around 90 Marvel Comics characters, with the majority of them coming from the Spider-Man mythology. Despite starting out in the comics as supporting characters for the webbed wall-crawler, a number of the heroes and villains later went on to headline their own comic series.
A similar trajectory has been followed by the characters in movies. Venom went from being a villain in Spider-Man 3 to becoming an anti-hero lead in a blockbuster film. Now the living vampire Morbius has a film coming out soon, and other characters like Silver Sable and Black Cat and also getting their own franchises.
Additionally, Spider-Man will be headlining his own series of films under Sony, which will at some point crossover with Venom, Morbius, and all the other characters the company owns. So while SPUMC is working with a fraction of the characters owned by the MCU and the DCEU, it has the potential to be a major cinematic universe with its own hardcore fanbase.
Sony's Marvel franchise was formally kickstarted by 2018's Venom. That film was very much a self-contained affair, ignoring the villain's comic origins as a combination of Spider-Man and an alien symbiote, and focusing entirely on the symbiote aspect of the character.
After the massive success of the movie, Sony felt emboldened to start building their cinematic universe. The second movie in the series, Morbius, released a trailer connecting the vampire to Spider-Man, Vulture, and possibly the Sinister Six. The upcoming sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage, is rumored to have a cameo by Spider-Man, based on certain hints lead actor Tom Hardy has been posting on social media.
Sony is clearly hoping to follow the MCU handbook when it comes to establishing a cinematic universe. But they would do well to also look to the DCEU, for lessons on what strategies to avoid. The Justice League was widely criticized for bringing together DC Comics' most iconic superheroes without providing a proper introduction to half of them.
Considering that Spider-Man is scheduled to appear in the MCU as well, it will be interesting to see if that cinematic universe finds greater overlap with the one sony is building going forward. After all, what fans want more than anything else is for all the Marvel characters to exist in the same universe. This news was first discovered by IGN.