Could Marvel be Wilde about Spider-woman?

Olivia Wilde looks set to helm a major Marvel movie. But if it's the rumoured 'Spider-woman', which version of the character will it be?

It wasn’t that long ago that Marvel was coming under fire for not creating films about female heroes and not hiring female directors – apparently because some of the bean-counters appeared convinced that one of the target demographics – young men in their 20s wouldn’t be interested (which seems completely counter-intuitive, but….).    It appears that’s changing…

Patty Jenkins was originally going to direct Thor 2: The Dark World  but left over creative differences (Alan Taylor replaced her). Jenkins ultimately went on to direct Wonder Woman, arguably the most successful DC/Warners film of the modern era and though Taylor has also done fine, his Terminator: Genisys bombed spectacularly). Captain Marvel became the first female solo-outing and got mixed-to-positive reviews for star Brie Larson and directors Anna Boden  and Ryan Fleck and Black Widow will finally make it to cinemas in November (with Scarlett Johansson starring and Cate Shortland at the helm). Chloe Zhao is directing The Eternals which was due in December but which has now moved to February 2021. It was also announced this past week that Nia Dacoasta  (the forthcoming Candyman reboot) will direct Captain Marvel 2 (due in July 2022).

Industry site Deadline is now reporting that actor-turned-director Olivia Wilde is likely to helm another female-led superhero movie. Wilde came to fame starring in the tv series House and has made feature film appearances in the likes of People Like Us, Tron Legacy and Rush. In recent years she turned to directing and her 2019 film Booksmart was a highly acclaimed hit (with some pundits decrying a lack of Oscar recognition).

While the Marvel film Wilde is linked to has not been formally announced, it appears that many think it is a Spider-woman movie at SONY. (SONY, though working with Marvel in a cohesive universe, have the specific rights to Spider-man and the assorted associated characters therein.  A tweet from Wilde with a spider image seemed to confirm speculation.  If so, the question will be which Spider-woman..?

In the comics, Spider-woman has very little direct link to Spider-man and creator Stan Lee admitted that they created the character more to hang on to the copyright to the name than a pre-planned strategy. Fist appearing in a one-off tale in the Marvel Spotlight comic in 1977, her alter-ego was Jessica Drew and several retcons were done over the years to her origin story. The character had mixed fortunes and was killed off at one point, though revived when fans complained. She became more popular in 2005 when Brian Bendis brought her centre-stage for the ‘New Avengers‘ comic and she was a cornerstone character of the acclaimed Secret Invasion crossover story when it turned out that the character who had been appearing in the comic was actually a Skrull (a shape-changing race seen in the recent Captain Marvel movie and rumoured to be playing  a larger part in forthcoming Marvel movies). The real Jessica Drew returned to the Marvel printed-page universe and has remained a popular draw ever since.

However Marvel has also had success with a completely different version. One of the key stories in the Spider-man mythos is the death of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s long-time girlfriend who was killed when Peter fought seminal baddie the Green Goblin in 1973. In recent years, expanding the idea of the multiverse, readers were introduced to a different timeline where it was Peter who had died and not Gwen and she became the superhero (affectionately known as Spider-Gwen by fans but also going under the names of the Ghost Spider and Spider-woman at various points). That version of the character has been tremendously popular (also featuring in the Oscar-winning Into the Spider-verse film, so could be another viable choice.

Whichever incarnation, it looks as if Wilde will work from a screenplay by Katie Silberman with Amy Pascal producing.