Sony owns the movie rights to many more Marvel characters than just Spider-Man. It’s not just Venom, either. In fact, Sony has the rights to over 900 characters from Marvel’s catalog.
The issue of cinematic rights is always a headache when it comes to Marvel. It’s true that most of Marvel’s comic characters are gathered under the umbrella of Disney when it comes to movies. This is especially true now that Fox, who own the X-Men and Fantastic Four, has been acquired by the House of Mouse. Yet Disney, and by extension Marvel Studios, don’t have the rights to every character. Due to Marvel Comics selling the movie rights for its characters years before the MCU began in 2008’s Iron Man, Sony has gobbled up a lot of Marvel licensing. The studio isn’t content on sitting on these characters either.
The news of Sony’s huge Marvel catalog comes from a report by Variety. According to the publication, while Spider-Man and related characters like Venom are the jewels of Sony’s collection, they’re far from alone. There are nearly a thousand Marvel characters that Sony could make a movie about without any input from Marvel Studios. The upcoming Venom is the first step in Sony’s plans to make their own Marvel Cinematic Universe, populated with their exclusive Marvel characters.
The specific Marvel characters that Sony has rights to isn’t publicly known and (obviously) they’re far too numerous to list. However, Sony is already at work with several Marvel projects, each of which give an idea of where Sony hopes to build in the future. A movie about Spider-Man villain Kraven the Hunter is in the works. So is a film about Morbius the Living Vampire starring Jared Leto. This isn’t even to mention the long gestating Silver and Black movie, which would’ve starred two minor Spider-Man antagonists, that has since pivoted to become two solo films.
In all cases, Sony appears to be choosing Spider-Man related characters to headline movies. Kraven, Venom, Black Cat and Morbius all have a connection to Spidey in the comics. However for the movies, it seems like Sony is leaving Spider-Man out of it possibly due to their agreement with Marvel Studios to share Spider-Man. Yet with 900 characters to choose from, Sony probably has a few that have nothing to do with Peter Parker.
The critical and commercial success of Venom will likely determine how aggressively Sony continues to pursue its Marvel-related projects. It’s nevertheless interesting that the studio has evidently such a large staple of characters to pull from to make movies. Even without using or recasting Spider-Man, Sony could conceivably build a cinematic universe of Marvel characters. It’s not as exciting idea as the Marvel Cinematic Universe was when it first began, but it could be just as successful for Sony. Kraven the Hunter isn’t a household name currently but neither was Tony Stark before the onset the MCU. Sony could popularize and reinvigorate their 900 Marvel comic characters just as the MCU did for Captain America, Black Panther and all the rest.