As part of a new report revealing Sony’s plans for their own big-screen Universe of Marvel Characters, the only other major Marvel player besides Disney themselves (once the Fox buyout goes through) is intent on bringing some obscure characters into theaters. They may have two better-known Spider-Man properties hitting the screens this fall with the release of the live-action Venom and the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but they’re rolling some dice with another trio of films in order to bring a diverse collection of characters into the game.
As Variety reports, the studio is also in the process of developing movies based on the Marvel Comics characters Silk, Jackpot, and Nightwatch; Sony is actively looking for writers to pen scripts, so if you have any inkling just who these characters are, you might just have a leg up. (Though Spike Lee was rumored to be in line to direct Nightwatch earlier this year, so good luck if that’s the job you wanted.) These three films will join the scrapped Silver & Black team-up movie which has been broken down into its constituent parts: Black Cat and Silver Sable standalones. In addition to mining their Marvel properties, Sony is looking to stay woke, as the kids say, and make some diversity plays both in front of and behind the cameras.
“We’re focused on being faithful to the comics,” said Sanford Panitch, president of Columbia Pictures and overseer of the unofficial SUMC. “Spider-Man connects to a lot of the characters … There are villains, heroes, and antiheroes, and a lot are female characters, many of whom are bona fide, fully dimensionalized, and utterly unique … We feel there’s no reason the Marvel characters shouldn’t be able to embrace diversity.”
Since Silk, jackpot, and Nightwatch aren’t as well known, we’ll break them down here:
Korean-American superhero Cindy Moon, a.k.a. Silk, is a relatively recent addition to the Marvel Comics canon. Created by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos in 2014, Silk made her debut in a cameo in “The Amazing Spider-Man #1″, with a full appearance in “The Amazing Spider-Man #4.” Her power set is quite similar to that of Spider-Man’s, with the addition of an eidetic memory, meaning she can revisit memories and scenes like still images in her mind. And her origin story is similar as well: After the radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker turned him into Spider-Man, it also took a chunk out of Cindy Moon (what a jerk spider). Cindy was granted the ability to make organic webbing unlike her more famous counterpart, though it takes her some time to control them; she was aided in this effort by spider-powered businessman, Ezekiel Sims, which was a complicated relationship to say the least. Her “Silk Sense” is a stronger version of Parker’s “Spider-Sense” and she may even be faster than the wall-crawler.
Another Dan Slott co-creation, along with Phil Jimenez, this 2007 character first arrived in the Free Comic Book Day issue Spider-Man: Swing Shift back in 2007. She appeared in several The Amazing Spider-Man titles before getting her own mini-series in 2010. Curiously, Jackpot has two aliases: First is Sara Ehret, a scientist working on Parkinson’s research and gene therapy at an Oscorp subsidiary. Sara receives an accidental dose of a treatment, while pregnant, and develops superhuman strength as a result of it. (Her daughter Madeline showed no ill effects, however.) Despite playing the part of a superhero for a time, Sara retired to spend more time with her family. That’s when Alana Jacobson steps in to purchase Jackpot’s identity and hero license. Alana uses performance-enhancing drugs like Mutant Growth Hormone to pump up her powers in order to mimic Jackpot, which unexpectedly serves as her undoing after many adventures.
The identity of Jackpot jumps back and forth between Sara and Alana a number of times, and the character comes complete with her own wardrobe changes. Alana is also revealed to be a lesbian during the course of her character’s arc. Sony has some interesting angles to play with in Jackpot’s story here–there’s a lot of drama among family members and within the superhero community connected to Spider-Man–so this could be an interesting Jessica Jones-like take if done right.
Looking remarkably like Todd McFarlane‘s famous 1992 creation Spawn–which is totally a coincidence, I’m sure–this Marvel Universe creation came about in 1993 from co-creators Terry Kavanagh, Alex Saviuk, and Joe Rubinstein. First appearing as his alter ego Dr. Kevin Trench, Nightwatch popped up in a number of Spider-Man titles, notably playing a part in the Maximum Carnage crossover event. More recently, Nightwatch got a retcon, which will probably serve as the story inspiration for any new scripts.
The original Trench saw a costumed version of his older self die while battling cloaked terrorists. Against his better judgement, he took the costume and used it to become a caped crusader in his own right with the powers of enhanced strength, agility and reflexes; invisibility; shapeshifting; and even flight. His story folded in nanotechnology and mind-bending paradoxes of time-travel, which could prove to be rich storytelling material for a movie. The character’s more recent retcon, however, revealed that Dr. Trench had just been keeping a super-low profile while running a medical practice and doing charitable works … or perhaps something more nefarious. Comic books!