Venom last appeared on screen in 2007's ill-fated "Spider-Man 3," a movie that spelled doom for the previously successful Tobey Maguire iteration of the webslinging superhero. An alien symbiote which fuses with Spider-Man and rival Eddie Brock, the character has featured regularly in Marvel's comic books. Venom is attractive because the character can exist without Spider-Man and has embarked on its own adventures when in sync with Brock.
The Sinister Six has comprised various of Spider-Man's enemies over the years, but a classic lineup might include Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Electro, The Vulture, Mysterio and Kraven the Hunter. Any film featuring the supervillain team would most likely also include Spider-Man, since Peter Parker's crime-fighting alter ego is their traditional nemesis.
It was revealed in December that "Star Trek" writer Alex Kurtzman will direct "Venom" from a screenplay co-written with regular collaborator Roberto Orci, as well as Ed Solomon. The script for the Sinister Six film will be overseen by "Cabin in the Woods' " Drew Goddard, who may also direct. The studio has also announced that Marc Webb will return for a third "Amazing Spider-Man" film after directing the 2012 series reboot and its forthcoming sequel.
The expansion of Spider-Man's universe mirrors the approach of Disney-owned Marvel, which has put at least one new comic-book film set in a shared universe into cinemas each year since 2010's "Iron Man 2." Critics might argue that Marvel's ownership of the screen rights to dozens of characters from its own comic-book catalog puts it in a vastly superior position to Sony, which owns only Spider-Man and a handful of related characters.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk.