Sony's Marvel movies have spent the last years in a strange state of affairs. While Fox has been able to find consistent success with both the X-Men and Deadpool franchises, Sony hasn't had the same luck with Spider-Man. Everyone generally remembers the Tony Maguire era fondly. Andrew Garfield's duology is pretty divisive. Tom Holland's short tenure is currently somewhere in the middle, but early signs indicate he might be top dog when it comes to capturing the spirit of Peter Parker.
Though the studio shares joint custody with Marvel for the rights to Spidey on his own, they're also taking the time to develop solo projects for characters in the hero's orbit, starting with his monstrous nemesis, Venom. From there, it has been made clear that Sony's plans for its Spider-Verse, called the Sony Universe of Marvel Characters, will go even deeper down the rabbit hole, with solo outings for Black Cat, Silver Sable and... Jackpot and Nightwatch. Really.
All of these movies are more or less dependent on how Venom does at the box office, and therein lies the ultimate problem. Recall Sony's previous attempt at a Spider-Man Cinematic Universe, which crashed and burned back in 2014, with Amazing Spider-Man 2 poised as the gateway. The Andrew Garfield-fueled sequel was supposed to spawn everything from a Sinister Six movie to Spider-Man 2099, and even a film centered around Aunt May.
The subsequent custody deal between Marvel and Sony nixed all of those, along with the poorly-timed Sony email hack. Still, the now canned films serve as a rather grim reminder of Sony's lofty ambitions, the plans for the Sinister Six in particular. Considering how those plans blew up in their faces spectacularly, it would make sense for Sony to hold off on saying anything really concrete until it can be proven they can handle a solo movie without Spider-Man.
Instead, things are looking to be a repeat of 2014, only with Venom in the spotlight. It's not entirely clear just where Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock escapades will land critically. Some dig his freaky tongue and monstrous look, while others aren't too jazzed about the accent or the "turd in the wind."
There's still probably a good amount of people confused about whether this film connects to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in any capacity. With two trailers and a poster under its belt, Venom has a split down that middle that doesn't guarantee the surefire lock that Homecoming or previous Marvel films had, in addition to the film looking to be just front-loaded with multiple symbiotes instead of just the titular antihero.
It's not just Sony's personal history that's working against them, here. Pretty much every film franchise that's set long term plans and isn't the MCU have quickly found themselves becoming an Icarus. Universal's Dark Universe stumbled, Worlds of DC is carrying more weight than it can handle and the Transformers Cinematic Universe is on life support, with only Bumblebee to show for it. And what they all had in common was plainly saying they had four or five films planned for their respective franchises before the first one even got out. They all paid the price for it in each case. Thus far, the only outlier here seems to be Power Rangers, which may be getting a genuine, direct sequel.
There's a chance that Venom really will be the golden goose that gets Silk, Kraven and the other character-focused films off the ground over at Sony, but there's also an even bigger chance that the film doesn't do well and Sony is once again tossed back to square one. After their first failure, the stakes are even higher now, and it may not have been the best choice to hedge all their bets on a character whose first cinematic appearance over a decade ago left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.