The Future of Non-Superhero Movies Might Be Superhero Movies

By  · Published on November 12th, 2014

Sony Pictures

I’m not sure what to do with the report that Sony is going to make an Aunt May spin-off movie without Spider-Man (other than have another cup of coffee and call it bullshit). Da7e at Latino Review has a solid enough batting average when it comes to wildly early scoops, but this feels like the studio narrowed down the source of its leaks and fed some bad information to confirm (Venom musical! Spidey Babies! Aunt May Solo Adventure!). Apparently it was suspect #3.

But if we take it seriously for a second, I want to look at it in a radical way – one that sees superhero movies as a means for studios to get back to making non-superhero movies.

In the same way that Captain America: Winter Soldier was essentially a spy thriller with a sprinkling of super punching, and in the same way Gotham is a gangland police procedural with only the occasional death-by-balloon, an Aunt May movie could be an excellent portrait of a young woman who is decades away from raising a young man to swing through Uptown.

She wouldn’t have to deal with a world where superheroes and supervillains stalked the streets, so she’d have to deal with all the usual, spandexless traumas of life.

Da7e’s report claims that Sony wants to turn young May into an agent of some sort, which would be an unfortunate but possibly necessary genre conceit to make up for making a movie where zero people have super powers (cue pitchforks).

But without it, the film could explore all sorts of drama from regular life. Maybe it’s a rom-com where she and a keen gent named Ben fall in love. Maybe it’s a drama where caring for her Alzheimer’s-effected mother makes her want to go into nursing. Maybe it’s a corporate thriller where she has to smuggle Oscorp secrets to a governmental oversight agency. Maybe May is a textile worker who risks everything to unionize. Who knows. It could be anything. Except super.

The great thing is that there are tons of human characters in the comic book universe who’ve never been doused with radiation just waiting to get their own standalone movies. How about the waitress who Captain America saved in The Avengers? The one who played Chrissy on Growing Pains? What’s her story? Trying to make ends meet in a cruel NYC where Tony Stark’s tower looms as a beacon of all the wealth and opportunity she’ll never have?

Or what about the little kid whose hair Batman tousles in Begins? Is he being bullied at school? Is it tough simply growing up in a city where crime takes on a grandiose element of spectacle? Does he rebel in his teens against an obviously impossible childhood?

You see where all of this is going. Or at least where it could go. Studios could use the cover of a “spin-off” in order to tell the stories they did before superheroes, comic books and what we’re calling geek material landed with a crushing imbalance. Maybe the only way to make movies like Regarding Henry and Rain Man again is to claim they’re about Iron Man’s cousin.

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