Felicity Jones is about to become Hollywood’s newest leading lady. She has been a somewhat central character in two major motion pictures, and has already been nominated for an Oscar (The Theory of Everything, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role), and she has a very good chance of taking home some hardware. While she has been praised for her roles in British flicks The Invisible Woman and Like Crazy, her breakthrough into American cinema came by way of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Her role seemed inconsequential unless are well versed in Spider-Man lore outside of the wreck that is the movie universe. Jones played Felicia Hardy, the alias for the Black Cat.
Who is this Black Cat character, and why does it feel like it is going to be the Marvel analog for Catwoman? There are admittedly few differences in the two characters. Both are master thieves. Each of them like to play both sides of the coin. They want a clean slate. You’ve heard all that nonsense grumbled at you before. However, in her most iconic iterations Black Cat also has the ability to manipulate luck. Not only is she extremely lucky at all times, but she can also make others have really bad luck. The technical term for it is called the manipulation of probability fields, but the more mumbo jumbo you throw in, the stupider it becomes. So, let’s just stick with the whole luck thing.
Her character was teased big time is ASM2, and fans were hoping that Felicity Jones would come back to bring an untapped character — which are dwindling — into the compact universe that Sony is creating. Black Cat is a fan-favorite, an arguably more compelling love interest than the late Gwen Stacy, and a much needed strong female presence in the superhero landscape. Sinister Six is slated to come out soon after Wonder Woman is introduced in Batman v. Superman, so introducing a female lead would still be fairly early in the game. Fox doesn’t really do lead characters unless your name is Hugh Jackman, and Marvel Studios won’t be introducing a bonafide female lead until Captain Marvel in 2018. In many ways Felicity/Felicia was Sony’s ace in the hole.
And then the news hit that Jones had accepted a deal to star in the spin-off that will begin to build out the cinematic Star Wars universe. As of now, she has only been confirmed for one movie. However, Disney is involved, and I don’t think anyone expected them to use the “one-and-done” strategy. Nah, Jones is gonna be making these movies for a long time to come. So, now the question we must ask is, can anyone (not named Chris Pratt) split time between two massive franchises?
Star Wars will not be the only franchise to reach for Felicity’s talents. Her graceful ascent to fame will be a huge source of crowd appeal on which many more movies will hope to capitalize. I am guessing that she backs down from her role as Felicia Hardy in order to focus on her Star Wars role, and whatever else she is offered, which will be everything. Attempting to balance these two would make any other projects near impossible, so she has to choose. When it comes to pros and cons, one of these companies has built the largest film franchise of this generation (and perhaps ever), while the other is undergoing email safety training right now. Jones made the right call.
Sony is in a state of emergency, and I know there is a redundancy joke in there somewhere. I’ll get back to you on it. And this emergency just proves how difficult it will be for Sony to continue to compete in this business. The reason that super hero movies are continuing to be successful right now is — despite what people try to say — there has been an amazing lack of fatigue. The stories are still fresh and to an extent (e.g. Winter Soldier) carry a good bit of weight. Unfortunately, there are only so many ways an audience can stand to see Thor swing his hammer and Cap throw his shield. Marvel has adeptly observed this and are shifting the focus to a newer cast of characters (Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Vision, Ant-Man, Dr. Strange, etc…). Sony doesn’t have that luxury unfortunately. The only heroes they really have the rights to are Spider-Man, Black Cat and a host of other people with spider powers. Want to know what fatigue feels like? Wait for the team-up movie where it is five heroes all swinging on webs together. There isn’t any space to breathe in that, and that is exactly why Sony must capitalize on the Black Cat. She is original, and she will give a breath of fresh air into this franchise that is already beginning to feel like a musty basement that your uncle lived in as a kid.
Sony’s track record isn’t remarkable. I could go on for a while about how surprising it is that they are making another movie for this franchise after ASM2 made less money than any other Spider-Man movie before it, and yes that includes Spider-Man 3. Welcome to the pits, Sony. Every other production company is doing fine. Disney is running a well-oiled machine that isn’t slowing down. Warner Bros, despite the fact that Man of Steel remains the unimpressive only piece, seems like they have stuff figured out. Even Fox has gotten people (definitely me) hyped for Fantastic Four, the ex-punching bag of the comic book movie world. Sony really needs to figure out their next step, and Black Cat is their way to do it. Sony has a couple of options right now:
- Recast Felicia/Black Cat – this really isn’t a bad option at all, but it’s just not as juicy as the others. Also, the last notable recasting gave us Maggie Gyllenhal in the Dark Knight, and there is no way it could go more wrong than that.
- Clone Felicity Jones – I’m not seeing any problems here.
- Go for a Spider-Woman movie – THIS IS A HORRIBLE IDEA; Yeah, she’s cool, but what’s the point?
- Just go ahead and give the rights of Spider-Man to Marvel – This is the idea that gets me out of bed in the morning to face another cruel day where I won’t get to see Spider-Man in Civil War. Don’t let them see you cry, Bennett.