It looks like Peter Parker is getting a vacation . According to Variety, Sony Pictures has announced that the third entry in the Amazing Spider-Man series has been pushed back to 2018. This places the Marc Webb helmed franchise two years away from its original release date, with a previously announced fourth entry lost somewhere in the ether.
Such changes are likely designed to help The Amazing Spider-Man series compete better with the crowded slate of superhero films planned throughout the rest of the decade. Though Spider-Man is proprietary to Marvel Comics, the film rights to the character have been held by Sony Pictures since 2001’s Spider-Man. This places the Amazing Spider-Man franchise in the awkward position of competing against Disney’s Avengers films. Warner Brothers also has several Justice League movies in the pipeline.
The lukewarm response toward The Amazing Spider-Man 2 likely played a role in Sony Picture’s decisions as well. Though not technically a flop–it managed to rake in $706 Million worldwide–The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the lowest grossing Spider-Man film to date. Critical reception was equally disappointing, with a Rotten Tomatoes consensus of 53% and a Metacritic aggregate score of 53. At the rate this franchise has been going, a downward box-office trend is almost inevitable.
Fans shouldn’t throw their arms in the air just yet, though. Sony Pictures announced that Sinister Six will take the place of The Amazing Spider-Man 3’s original 2016 release date. The villain led spin-off film will be written and directed by Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods). Details are scarce about plot details and casting, but Sinister Six will presumably feature several iconic Spider-Man villains, including The Green Goblin and Rhino–both of whom were introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Other characters are a guessing game at this point, since the comics feature several variations of the Sinister Six.
These developments are intended to give the Amazing Spider-Man a much needed kick in the teeth, but it may not be enough to really get things moving again for Sony’s franchise baby. In an age where comic book films are considered the cremedelacreme of popcorn blockbuster entertainment, the Spider-Man movies haven’t even been close to the playing field since Sam Raimi’s superbly excellent Spider-Man 2 in 2002. Moviegoers expect certain qualities from their superheroes, notably coherence, something that The Amazing Spider-Man films haven’t had very much of.
There’s also the question of transitioning creative teams. Marc Webb has yet to be announced as a potential director for any of the future Spider-Man films, and four years between entries is quite a long time for a cast to stay relevant in the eyes of a painfully unforgiving audience. It’s unlikely that Andrew Garfield won’t reprise his role as the namesake webslinger, but there’s always the possibility. His casting was clearly the best part of either Amazing Spider-Man movies, so hopefully that’s the one thing that stays the same.