The Big Picture

  • Amazon has shelved the
    Silk: Spider Society
    series after multiple creative overhauls.
  • Sony’s handling of the Spider-Man franchise continues to showcase issues.
  • The shelving of a Silk TV series undermines representation at a critical time.



Spider-Man and television seem like a match made in heaven as of late. Prime Video recently greenlit Noir, which sees Nicholas Cage reprising his role as Spider-Man Noir, and Disney+ has Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man waiting in the wings. There have even been calls for a revival of Spider-Man: The Animated Series following the success of X-Men ’97 (and that series hinting at where Spider-Man: The Animated Series left off). But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing in the Spider-Verse, as Prime Video recently shelved Silk: Spider Society. This cancelation points to a few issues surrounding Spider-Man-themed media.


Silk

Release Date
2021-00-00

Seasons
0


‘Silk’ Was in Turmoil Behind the Scenes

Deadline initially ran the news that Silk: Spider Society had been canceled while also tracking its development history, which included a number of creative overhauls. Lauren Moon was initially hired to develop the project in 2019, which was meant to serve as the launching point for a fleet of Spider-Man-based shows by Prime Video. Further sweetening the pot was the fact that this had spun out of a deal between Sony Pictures Television, Phil Lord, and Chris Miller, who’d given the Spider-Man franchise a jolt of life with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Eventually, Tom Spezialy (Watchmen, The Leftovers) and Angela Kang (The Walking Dead) were brought on as showrunners, with the show then receiving its official title and a new home at MGM+. Add in some promising words from all involved, and it looked like Silk: Spider-Society was on its way to launching another wave of Spider-Verse stories.


Two factors eventually ended up impacting Silk: Spider-Society‘s road to the small screen. The first was the delay in reopening the writers’ room after the Writers’ Guild of America had concluded its strike last year; the WGA was on the brink of conducting legal action when Amazon finally opened the doors this January. The second is the most baffling, as Kang and the writers were reportedly asked to reconfigure the series so that it focused less heavily on Silk. This points to a problem that’s plagued Sony for years: its handling of the Spider-Man franchise.

The ‘Silk’ Cancellation Points To Greater Struggles With the Spider-Man Franchise

Spider-Geddon from marvel comics
Image Via Marvel Comics


Ever since Sam Raimi wrapped up his Spider-Man trilogy, Sony has struggled with keeping the Spider-Man franchise viable. The first major roadblock was the attempt to use Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield‘s Amazing Spider-Man films as the launching pad for a cinematic universe. Back then, studios were still chasing the allure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and with over 900 characters under its belt, Sony swung for the fences with plans to release a Spider-Man-based film every year. However, the reception of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and an internal leak at Sony eventually led to a partnership with Marvel Studios, where Tom Holland picked up Spidey’s mask.

Still, Sony once again attempted to launch more Spider-Man-adjacent films with the success of Venom, but Morbius and Madame Web have been met with less than stellar box office results as well as outright scorn from critics and fans. In contrast, the Spider-Verse films have been warmly received — especially the wide range of characters who appear in both films, like Hobie Brown/Spider-Punk and Gwen Stacy. The lesson is clear: fans want more Spider-Man in their Spider-Man stories.


Silk Can Carry Her Own TV Show

Silk-banner
Image via Marvel Comics

The reworking of Silk: Spider-Society to focus less on Silk disregards a decade’s worth of stories to pull from. Even her origin flies in the face of that decision. Cindy Moon was an average teenager who wound up being bitten by a radioactive spider, with that same spider being the one who transformed Peter Parker into Spider-Man. Cindy was then approached by Ezekiel Sims, who also possessed arachnid-like abilities; he warned her that a vampiric being known as Morlun would want to hunt her down and consume her life force. Cindy reluctantly sealed herself off in a bunker, and ten years afterward, Spider-Man freed her. Deciding to be a superheroine in her own right, Cindy took up the name Silk while also searching for her long-lost family.


This origin is compelling enough on its own, but there’s also the added wrinkle of the subtitle. The “Spider Society” first appeared in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and was assembled by Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, to repair any fractures in the multiverse. Using the Spider Society as a backdrop would have addressed Cindy’s struggles with family and connection; not only could she have found a new family with members of the Spider Society, but it would have let different Spider-Men take the spotlight, similar to how Miles Morales is the protagonist of the Spider-Verse movies. Sidelining her betrays a massive lack of vision.

‘Silk: Spider-Society’ Was Canceled at the Wrong Time


The most damning part of Silk: Spider-Society being canceled is the optics. Not only does it raise eyebrows that the project featuring a Korean-American superheroine was shelved while another Peter Parker-centric story went forward, but it also happened to fall during Asian-American/Pacific Islander Appreciation Month. The timing couldn’t have been worse, especially as Silk is the most prominent Asian-American character within the Spider-Man mythos. As if that wasn’t enough, a rumor around the internet before the cancelation suggested that Amazon wanted a project that was more “male-skewing,” which in and of itself is a shame.

Despite Amazon pulling the plug, there’s still hope for Silk: Spider-Society. The series is being shopped around to potential buyers, which means it could find life on a new streamer – ironically, a similar fate befell Batman: Caped Crusader when it moved from Max to Prime Video. Cindy Moon also appeared at the end of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and a Spider-Society comic is in the works, which means that more Silk stories could be on the way.

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