Welcome to a Tuesday edition of Popculturology. If the headline and photo on this edition wasn’t big enough clue, I’m still talking about Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
I’m obsessed with this movie. I’ve been listening to Daniel Pemberton’s amazing score while working on Friday and Monday. I already have tickets to go see it again this week. I’ve loved seeing the almost universal praise for Across the Spider-Verse online. At this point, if you’re tweeting about not getting the movie or it not being good, I think you’re just doing it for the attention.
I don’t think think this classifies as a spoiler, but there aren’t any credits scenes in Across the Spider-Verse. (That’s key knowledge to have when you’ve hit the end of a film and you’ve chugged a large soda while watching it.) But there was almost one!
Realized on Monday that Avatar: The Way of Water hits Disney+ and Max on Wednesday. Now I’m going to have to find six hours and convince Caitlin that we need to watch this one …
Anyone out there itching to preorder Apple’s new Vision Pro? I’m a sucker for almost an Apple product, but this one is a nonstarter for me. I’m not interested in strapping computer goggles to my face. Especially if it’ll cost me $3,499. Yikes.
You know what costs less than a Vision Pro headset? A subscription to Popculturology!
For just $50, you can get a full year of Popculturology. A monthly subscription $5. Both subscriptions bring you the two weekly editions of the newsletter plus Deep SNL Thoughts and The Box Office Report.
I love writing this newsletter, and if you’re interested in becoming a supporting subscriber, please consider upgrading your subscription.
- Feature Presentation: Can Sony handle the success of the Spider-Verse?
- The News: New look at Ahsoka, there’s a script for a Flash sequel, the WGA averts a strike
- Trailer Watch: Bird Box Barcelona
Can Sony handle the success of the Spider-Verse?
There’s been no shortage of Spider-Man movies since Tobey Maguire swung onto screens in 2002.
There was the Sam Raimi trilogy that kicked things off, creating a new tier of box office success in 2002, 2004 and 2007.
Then Sony rebooted the franchise with Andrew Garfield, giving us the Amazing Spider-Man films in 2012 and 2014.
And then Sony rebooted things again with Tom Holland, bringing Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War in 2016 before appearing in his own trilogy of films in 2017, 2019 and 2021 while also starring in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame in 2018 and 2019.
If that wasn’t enough, Sony also released Venom films in 2018 and 2021 along with the acclaimed Morbius last year. The studio also has a third Venom movie, a Kraven the Hunter movie, an El Muerto movie and a Madame Web movie in the works.
While it looked like Spider-Man: No Way Home was the project that brought the Spider-Man universe together, giving fans Maguire, Garfield and Holland in the same movie (while teasing Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock/Venom in a credits scene), it turns out that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the keystone of the entire Spider-Man world.
(Yes, it’s time to talk spoilers, so look away if you haven’t seen Across the Spider-Verse yet.)
The Spider-Verse films are mind-blowing accomplishments. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and should have been nominated for Best Picture. If Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse isn’t a Best Picture nominee, we riot.
If there’s a Spider-Man movie, TV show or comic, you can bet Across the Spider-Verse included it. There are bits of live-action Maguire and Garfield. There’s Donald Glover possibly reprising his role of Aaron Davis from Spider-Man: Homecoming, playing a live-action version of the Prowler trapped in Spider-Man 2099’s Spider-Society headquarters. With the exception of Spider-Man characters like Ezekiel and Silk, Across the Spider-Verse is at the center of the web that’s the Spider-Man universe.
So where does Sony take the character and franchise from here?
In addition to those live-action spinoffs that I mentioned above, we’ll get Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse next year. Phil Lord and Chris Miller recently told Collider that they “saved several” Spider-People for Beyond the Spider-Verse, saying, “You thought that you've seen every Spider-Person that you could imagine, but not every Spider-Person we can imagine.”
Will we see Maguire, Garfield and Holland in Beyond the Spider-Verse in new footage? Will we see live-action versions of the animated Spider-Verse characters? Shameik Moore desperately wants to play the live-action Miles Morales, telling Men’s Health he “would put my entire soul into having the best live-action Spider-Man performance that we have ever witnessed” — but Hailee Steinfeld is already in the MCU as Kate Bishop.
We don’t officially have a fourth Spider-Man movie with Holland in the MCU. That might be the expectation, but Sony has been known to muck up a good thing. The success of Holland’s Spider-Man has been thanks to his inclusion in the MCU and guidance by Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige. The success of the Spider-Verse movies is a miracle that we owe to Lord, Miller, Rodney Rothman, Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson and David Callaham.
We’re also one bad decision on Sony’s part away from blowing up Spider-Man’s place in the MCU. From the moment Sony and Marvel Studios came to an agreement to let Spider-Man play in the MCU sandbox, I’ve believed that it was only a matter of time before Sony yanked the character back. Letting him mix it up with Iron Man and Captain America revitalized the character. The glow of Marvel Studios would make Spider-Man a box office hero again. And then Sony could cut its ties with the MCU and drop the Holland Spider-Man into its own Spider-Man spinoffs. Spider-Man and Kraven! Spider-Man and Venom!
If Sony had its way, they would’ve rushed a Sinister Six movie into the works after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 or given us an Aunt May standalone movie.
Heck, even with Marvel’s guidance, Sony still screwed up its timelines, bringing Michael Keaton’s Vulture into Morbius.
The real answer here is that we don’t know what’s next for these characters and these stories. Sony is on the verge of having a unified Spider-Man multiverse thanks to Across the Spider-Verse. Can the studio stay out of its own way long enough to make it a success?
I love writing about pop culture, and I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter. Are you a subscriber yet? It’s the easiest way to make get Popculturology in your inbox. Become a paid subscriber to get every edition of Popculturology.
Rosario Dawson, Dave Filoni and Natasha Liu Bordizzo talk Ahsoka
A live-action Ahsoka Tano is on the cover of Empire Magazine to promote her upcoming solo show. This concept would’ve blown Star Wars fans minds when the character debuted 15 years ago, but Ahsoka is heading to Disney+ soon.
“The biggest challenge was, there’s a whole bunch of audience that know her, and a whole bunch that don’t,” Filoni told Empire. “She has one foot in the Star Wars that a lot of people know because of her connection to Anakin, and yet she’s all new and can go in her own direction, in her own way. I think that makes her an interesting bridge between what came before and what’s really possible.”
Meanwhile, Dawson is ready to return to the role. (And as seen by the preview image at the top of this item, Lucasfilm has updated Ahsoka’s lekku, making them longer to more closely match the character’s look in Star Wars Rebels.)
“Getting the opportunities to embody her more and more, and collaborating with everyone as things have shifted and developed and progressed ... it’s just been amazing,” Dawson told Empire. “That same sort of excitement that I saw on people’s reaction videos [to her inaugural Mandalorian appearance] is how I keep feeling every day when I look in the mirror and get to do what I get to do … If anything, it’s only ramped up.”
While we’ve already seen Dawson as Ahsoka in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, Bordizzo’s portrayal of Sabine Wren will be new to fans of the character. Is she ready to pick up the search for Ezra Bridger?
“She feels an obligation to him,” Bordizzo told Empire. “When they freed Lothal, she was given this hero status. But she doesn’t feel that she’s earned that because she lost her friend in that whole debacle. She’s just focused on the promise she made to him to find him.”
I’m very much looking forward to seeing the Rebels characters translated into live action with Ahsoka. Can Filoni pull off that transition? (The writer/director also teased his upcoming Star Wars movie, noting that “culmination is an interesting word” when addressing the potential of bringing The Mandalorian and Ahsoka together on the big screen.)
There’s a Flash sequel script — but no one knows if it’ll get made
The Flash is not an ordinary movie. It’s the last gasp of the DCEU while also somehow, maybe, setting up the future DCU. It has Keaton playing Batman. It has Sasha Calle playing Supergirl. And it’s being promoted without Ezra Miller, the star of the film, thanks to the controversy around the actor.
Though Warners never announced it, the studio already has a finished sequel script from David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (Aquaman) if a Part 2 is in the cards. That script is said to have guest-starred Keaton’s Batman and Calle’s new Supergirl.
Hmm. I have to wonder if this script was written before James Gunn and Peter Safran came on board and announced a reset of the DC superhero movies. Will it still make sense to have the Keaton version of Batman in the mix?
I really don’t get everyone raving over The Flash. Look at this clip that released on Monday.
This looks bad. Like, really bad. This is what Gunn and David Zaslav have called one of the best superhero movies ever?
Directors and studios reach a deal
There was the potential that the guilds for directors and actors would join the Writers Guild of America with strikes this summer. We can cross the directors off that list now, with the DGA striking a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over the weekend.
“We have concluded a truly historic deal,” said Jon Avnet, chair of the DGA’s Negotiations Committee. “It provides significant improvements for every Director, Assistant Director, Unit Production Manager, Associate Director and Stage Manager in our Guild. In these negotiations we made advances on wages, streaming residuals, safety, creative rights and diversity, as well as securing essential protections for our members on new key issues like artificial intelligence — ensuring DGA members will not be replaced by technological advances. This deal would not have been possible without the unity of the DGA membership, and we are grateful for the strong support of union members across the industry.”
I’ve seen some grumblings from writers on Twitter about the DGA deal. Despite the agreement supposedly “confirming that AI is not a person and that generative AI cannot replace the duties performed by members,” there’s the worry that there’s some squishy language there that can be taken advantage of in the future.
- Is The Flash director tackling Batman next? According to a report by One Take News, Muschietti will helm The Brave and the Bold for DC Studios, making the jump from Keaton’s Batman in The Flash to whoever Gunn and company find to play the next take on the character.
- Tobias Menzies joins Brad Pitt’s Formula One movie. Variety reported that The Crown actor will star alongside Pitt, Kerry Condon and Damson Idris. Top Gun: Maverick’s Joseph Kosinski directs the film for Apple.
Enjoy reading Popculturology? Share it!
Bird Box Barcelona
I never saw the first Bird Box movie, but like with The Quiet, my pitch for a sequel was that they should’ve picked a different sense. Can’t make eye contact with the aliens or monsters or whatever in Bird Box? Well, in the sequel, if you taste them, you die! Bird Box Barcelona appears to have gone a different direction.
Bird Box Barcelona premieres on Netflix on July 14.
💬 💬 💬 Comments, questions or recommendations? Let me know!
The Box Office Report is Popculturology’s look at the weekend box office. It’s another great add-on available to paid Popculturology subscribers.
Did you know that Popculturology is on Instagram?
- How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Swallowed Hollywood (Michael Shulman, The New Yorker)
- The Simpsons Is Good Again (Jesse David Fox, Vulture)
- Tim Robinson and the Golden Age of Cringe Comedy (Sam Anderson, The New York Times Magazine)
- Every I Think You Should Leave Season 3 Sketch, Ranked (Jill Krajewski, Vulture)
- Disney misread Star Wars fans. Now it has an expensive flop on its hands. (Hannah Sampson, The Washington Post)
- Elon Musk Personally Elevates Transphobic Video Originally Flagged as Hate Speech (Prem Thakker, The New Republic)
That’s the end of this issue of Popculturology. Thanks for reading. If you don’t already subscribe, please hit the “Subscribe now” button. Tapping the ♥️ at the bottom of each post also helps the newsletter.