Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Spider-Man, Hackers and Haters

Yes, just because it's Christmas I'm going to talk about the Sony Studios hacking. Why? Well, anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that it's been on my mind for a while now.

Sony got hacked by 'someone', 'someone' with very specific interest in shutting down a movie that makes fun of another country and their leader. This is unprecedented, unless I missed something happening after the release of, say, King Ralph, and it's serious stuff. In short, it's deliberate corporate sabotage, and it well may cost a lot of 'little people' some formerly-secure jobs in the near future, beyond the other high-profile casualties in the upper echelon of Sony management. I just can't see this as a 'fun' story for anyone at all.

It's not been helped by so-called 'fan sites', who have gleefully piled on with their specific hobby horses, and used that as the pretext to spread the hacked email content and, in my opinion, made a bad situation much worse by giving it oxygen. As interested as I might be in the future of the Spider-Man movie franchise, or the James Bond franchise, or even those of other studios (also apparently discussed in those emails), I have no right to know them, and for me one of the least pleasant aspects of this whole thing is just how easily it is to read this stuff, mostly in the form of 'gossip' and speculation (and the MSM are by no means above all of this.) In short, Comic Book Movie have it horrendously wrong with their approach to the hacked emails, and Den of Geek have it right.

Of course, last week Sony capitulated, and have pulled the offending movie in question, The Interview for the time being. Have they set a dangerous precedent? I don't know. Should they abide by the rule of not doing deals with terrorists, given the seriousness with which they took 'someone's threat to endanger lives in theatres showing the movie? I don't think so - that's for governments to decide, and everything else done here I'd simply call corporate responsibility - something you don't see a lot of in this day and age.

And now this is where I turn hypocrite, because I'm going to also discuss the future of the Spider-Man franchise, having read a little of what's been revealed through the same sites above. To be frank, it looks like it's in a terrible way. Sony almost made nothing on the last movie, while Marvel (who still own the character and merchandising rights) made a ton just by not making any Spider-Man movies at all. If you think Spider-Man not being with Marvel is an egregious crime, don't think the blame lies entirely with Sony. The studio may have lost their leading man to studio politics, may be planning a soft reboot, and may still meet with Marvel to talk tie-ins and cameos to bolster what must be a really problematic property they have now (but - see point one again.) Were unlikely to see a stand-alone Spidey movie for a number of years now, even if the mouth-breathers get their way and Duh Rights Revurt to Maarvuul. The brand may be cursed for a while yet. Shame. But bad things happen to good properties all the time, sadly.

So my two cents? Stick to the script, Sony. This has nothing to do with The Interview, so don't blink. Keep Spider-Man, but move forward with a Spiderverse - either Sinister Six (using Black Cat as a potential spin-off option) or Morbius. Spidey can cameo, but DON'T REMOVE HIS MASK! Let the identity behind the NEXT Sony Spider-Man be the story inside the film and out.

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