For some time, Sony has been trying to build its Spider-Man cinematic universe without Spider-man has hit another stumbling block: it’s removed Silver & Black from its release schedule and is sending it back for further development.
Word broke last year that Sony was developing the superhero spinoff based on the Spider-Man-adjacent characters Black Cat and Silver Sable, and Sony announced that the film would hit theaters in February 2019, just months after its other Spider-Man spinoff film, Venom, would hit theaters. Now, Deadline reports that the film is off the schedule completely, and is headed back into development.
Spider-Man has long been Sony’s “crown jewel,” according to Ben Fritz in his book The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies. The studios’ 2002 film was enormously profitable, and helped kick off the ongoing renaissance of superhero films, but its series of sequel films and reboots came with diminishing returns as Marvel’s Cinematic Universe began to dominate the box office in 2008.
The studio had ambitious plans for the character, with his own cinematic universe that included spinoff films for Venom and Sinister Six (and maybe an Aunt May-as-a-spy movie?) as well as an Amazing Spider-Man 3. But those plans largely fell through when Sony made a deal with Marvel Studios to bring the character into the MCU in 2015.
But while Marvel is using Spider-Man in its own universe, Sony hadn’t given up on creating its own superhero franchise, with plans to use a number of Spider-Man-adjacent characters for a new series of spinoff films. The first of those films, Venom, starring Tom Hardy, is slated to hit theaters in October of this year, and Silver & Black was slated to follow it, the first building blocks of a new franchise.
Delaying and retooling the film might be a smart move for Sony, given that a Venom film without Spider-Man is far from a certain success, and developing a franchise too far in advance can backfire: the road to cinematic universes is paved with the failures of many ambitious attempts. For now, Sony is going to have to see how well Venom does on its own, all while watching Marvel’s own version of Spider-Man do his own thing.