Can Sony Replicate The Success Of “Black Panther?”

In their bid to triple-down on their superhero output, specifically the exploitation of the Spider-man rights they still hold, Sony seems to be digging deep into the dollar bins at the comic shop.

As much as the idea of springboarding off the success of another film by replicating its blackness sounds like a massive fail, Sony might just be approaching this in the right way. Sony is looking to Spike Lee to direct a film based on the superhero Nightwatch. Don’t worry, nobody should be expected to remember this character.

Nightwatch first appeared in the pages of Web of Spider-Man back in 1993 as his civilian identity Kevin Trench, emerging costumed a couple issues later. His origin is essentially this: Kevin witnesses a superhero being killed by a costumed villain and approaches the fallen body. He unmasks the hero only to find that it’s an older version of himself. He takes the suit and vows to never wear it, then does, and becomes a successful superhero. He dies at one point and gets retconned back into existence. Oh, and apparently all of that was changed some years later to being a false identity for his true villainous identity as Nighteater. Comic books everybody.

Clearly (hopefully) Sony decides to steer well clear of most of that and stick to the basics. With Spike Lee on board, they might have a decent chance at delving into some social commentary, an aspect that made “Black Panther,” a blockbuster whose success this wants to replicate, a hit. Lee has had hits and misses in his career, but seems comfortable dealing with the deeper elements of the human condition wrapped in an easily digestible package. There has been a lot going for “Black Panther” that many in Hollywood will have to accept can’t really be repeated though. Disney/Marvel dropped the movie at the right time in a lot of ways. It doesn’t have to be another “Black Panther” however. The fact that another studio is already looking to a seasoned auteur for a major big-budget movie starring a person of colour is fantastic news. Spike Lee being a director that is going to want to dig deep is something to praise. Even choosing to move forward with an obscure hero when there are plenty of others that debuted in the pages of Spider-Man has some weight to it.

Along with this Sony has the upcoming “Venom” starring Tom Hardy and the female-driven “Silver & Black” written by relative-newcomer Lindsey Beer and “Love & Basketball” director Gina Prince-Bythewood. Looks as though Sony is setting up the proper tone for its Marvel slate in the coming future. Investors and audiences will wait in anticipation to see if they can deliver.

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