You may be aware of the somewhat mixed reception that the recent Spider-Man films have been getting. The first got a tentative ‘good but not great’ thumbs up from most, the second has provoked reactions from ‘well, I liked this part, but the rest was…’ to ‘SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS!’ I’m a little ambivalent about them myself, but there is one thing that has piqued my interest, and that few people seem to have noticed (or, if they have, do not seem to appreciate the impact of).
In both movies, a mysterious man has made an appearance, a man who sticks to the shadows and appears to be either working for or acquainted with both of the films’ major villains. In the second, he is identified in the credits as “Gustav Fiers (the Gentleman)”.
As per usual, a good chunk of the Internet immediately jumped to a variety of wrong conclusions based on misinterpretations of the man’s name (‘He’s Daredevil villain Mr. Fear!’ is one I’ve come across) or simple ignorance of who the heck this guy is. I’ll tell you who he is. Gustav Fiers, AKA The Gentleman, is the main villain in Adam-Troy Castro’s trilogy of ‘Sinister Six’ novels – he is the one who brings the titular group together again, essentially hiring them to carry out his sinister plans. Since the second movie seems to be intimating that at least some of the signature Six members (Dr. Octopus, for one) may well make appearances – also, there is apparently a Sinister Six film in the works, although it remains to be seen how that will pan out – it seems to be a fair bet that he will do something similar in future films.
I’m not going to play the speculation game here, though. Either he’ll bring the Six together or he won’t – we’ll just have to wait and see. However, Fiers’ appearance is significant in and of itself in a whole other way – to the best of my knowledge, it is the first time any superhero novel has been adapted in any way, whether fully or partially, to film.
This could have far-reaching implications. While they’ve never gotten the press that other spin-offs have, superhero literature has been around for a while, and has just as much potential for epic awesomeness as its comic book counterparts. Marvel did a lot of ‘em – there were quite a few X-Men and Spider-Man entries, an Iron Man or two, at least one Hulk novel, plus Daredevil, Captain America, the Silver Surfer, the Fantastic Four, and probably others I’m not aware of. It wasn’t just Marvel, either – DC’s Further Adventures of Batman/the Joker short story collections are excellent stuff (some of these count among my favorite Batman stories ever, in or out of comics), and both Superman and Wonder Woman got similar treatments – and perhaps others as well; I’m not sure.
For the moment, though, let’s concentrate on 20th Century Fox. They own the Spider-Man and X-Men flicks, and they’re the ones who have introduced Fiers – and, as such, are the only ones who seem to be aware of this particular untapped well. So, if Fox is going in this direction anyway (aha! The title!), what else could they do with the literary material available to them? What other books might they turn to for inspiration – and, possibly, outright adaptation?
Well, I do have a few suggestions… Continue reading