With Sony's announcement that they're spinning off a "Sinister Six" movie from their currently running "Amazing Spider-Man" series, there's one big question: how the heck are they going to make a movie with one villain as the protagonist, let alone six? What with villains, by definition, being the antagonists?
Compounding this problem? There's never been a villain-focused superhero movie, ever. There's asterisk style exceptions, like "Catwoman" and "Elektra," both of whom have been villains in the comics but were anti-heroes in the movies. But assuming that everything we've heard is true, and we're getting at least part of the Sinister Six team from the villains already in the movies (Jamie Foxx's Electro and Paul Giamatti's Rhino for a start), these are straight-up bad guys.
Luckily, though there aren't direct superhero movie comparisons at this point there are a few models Sony (as well as writer/director Drew Goddard) can use for his film. Here are some possible scenarios from other films, TV, and comics:
If Sony wants a clear, successful model on how to turn a group of villains into a group of heroes, look no further than the "Fast & Furious" franchise. The movie series has morphed into a big budget action spectacular centered around a group of car thieves who pull off dramatic heists, while staying one step ahead of the law. Granted Spider-Man's rogues gallery is just a tad more mentally unbalanced than Dominic Toretto and crew, but it could work. Plus, who wouldn't want to see The Lizard driving a car? Kidding.
Rights here might be tricky given how Marvel's properties are scattered all over the place. But back in 2007, writer Warren Ellis and artist Mike Deodato created a best-selling, critically acclaimed take on Marvel's villain team Thunderbolts. In it, a somewhat reformed Norman Osborn (The Green Goblin) led a team of villains masquerading as heroes, controlled by the government and forced to run missions or their heads would explode. Venom (who is getting his own spin-off) was also on the team, another indicator this could work nicely with the overall plan.
The British series about a group of juvenile delinquents who get superpowers isn't exactly a villain team-up. But the teens use their powers to have sex, rob, and occasionally murder people, so they're not exactly good guys, either. "Misfits" utilizes a more down to earth take than we expect "Sinister Six" to have, but a healthy sense of humor when it comes to doing bad, bad things is certainly worth considering.
Superior Foes Of Spider-Man
Marvel's currently running comic book series about a group of sad sack Spider-Man villains who team up to rob banks and hang out is, again, a little more low-key than we imagine Sony is looking for. But what "Superior Foes" does extremely well is focus on character moments, as well as not ignoring the inevitability that the main characters will get beaten up by Spider-Man and end up back in jail. For them, that's just part of the process, and what makes the book so fun. That's the main lesson from this one: don't ignore the past, or forget the characters in all the super-powered madness.
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
This seminal web series would be a great model for a Spider-Man spin-off (see what we did there?) Not only does it bring heart and emotion to a main, villainous character by demonizing the hero and giving the villain some true pathos, but also it has lots and lots of songs. Just imagine Venom singing, and you'll agree: "Sinister Six" has to be a musical. Jamie Foxx? Been in lots of musicals. Chris Cooper? Sung in "The Muppets." Paul Giamatti? Never heard the guy sing, but he probably has the voice of an angel. Make this happen, Sony.
Stay tuned for more news on Sony's "Sinister Six" spin-off as it hits.