And lo, there came a day, a day unlike any other – when Sony got so desperate to cash in on any remaining vestige of its Spider-Man license it could, that it greenlit a Hypno-Hustler movie.
Starring Donald Glover.
This “news” was broken a few days ago by THR, reporting that, after the palpable success of Morbius and the sure-to-be box office dynamite of the upcoming Kraven movie next October (pushed back since – *checks notes* – at least 2015), the next item on Sony’s “let’s milk our Spidey license for all it’s worth” game plan will soon revolve around a Hypno-Hustler movie.
Debuting in 1978’s Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #24 by writer Bill Mantlo and artist Frank Springer, whereupon he underwent a slew of disco-themed crimes before being stopped by Aunt May’s favorite nephew and relegated to many a worst-villains-ever list. He’s showed up sporadically in the decades since, usually as a punchline, but now Sony, in their infinite wisdom, seems to think he should headline his own Spider-Man Universe film.
Even more baffling, Sony has Donald Glover attached to play the titular villain, which is… interesting, to say the least. Lest you think this write-up was all snark, there’s a germ of a halfway-decent idea here: Glover is, of course, also known as rapper Childish Gambino, is a talent of no small means. The impresario behind This is America got his professional Hollywood start at just twenty-three as a writer for 30 Rock, before graduating to acting on Community and channeling his inner Billy Dee Williams as a young Lando Calrissian in Solo. All the while, he lit up the charts and collected an impressive five Grammies and another seven nominees for his music. Oh, and there’s that little show of his called Atlanta, which you may have heard of from its piles of awards. Point is, dude has skill – but also range, and a pretty keen ability to know how to credibly keep pushing the boundaries of what people assume he’s capable of. Bottom line, he didn’t get to where he is by being stupid.
It gets even more interesting when you consider that he’s already made his MCU debut in Spider-Man: Homecoming, as small-time criminal Aaron Davis, who would go on in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe to become the Prowler and, oh, be Miles Morales’ uncle. His screen time in that film was limited, but he was in kind of scene that was specifically designed to allow for the percolation of future plots – and presumably, the intro of both Prowler and Miles Morales at some point down the MCU line. Neither has yet to materialize, but with Miles having another big pop cultural moment with next year’s Across the Spider-Verse, the door should have been open for Glover to resume his role. This extraordinarily odd Hypno-Hustler announcement complicates that possibility – especially since Tom Holland’s return to the MCU has yet to be confirmed, leaving any potential Spidey-centric plans for Marvel in limbo.
Even further complicating the matter: Sony has, for a number of years now, had grand designs on a Spider-Man web (heh) of films sans Spidey, dating back at least as far as 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man 2, which set up the Sinister Six – each of whom was touted as being prepped for their own individual films. But the disappointing returns on ASM 2 seemed to put the kibosh on a potential shared universe of Spidey movies, and the eventual shared status of Spidey between Sony and Disney made things somehow even more complicated. Sony seems to believe it still has the capability to render a Spidey-less Spider-Man universe by focusing on his villains (and look, both Venom movies made bank even though they were critically drubbed, so they’re clearly not completely wrong in their thinking), but, seriously… Hypno-Hustler?
It’s possible to imagine a scenario where Glover somehow morphs the disco-era detritus villain into a sort of wacky meta-commentary on the awesomeness of z-list villains, maybe. Or maybe he completely revamps him into some sort of a… rapping villain…? That seems like a pretty bad idea. Honestly, it all does, and given Sony’s track record with these things, the announcement doesn’t exactly instill confidence. But Donald Glover’s involvement does raise eyebrows in a cautiously good way. And so, nerds, until we know more, you’re just going to have to settle for that: whatever the hell a Hypno-Hustler movie is going to look like, it probably won’t look anything like you’re expecting. Whether that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen, but let’s be real: anything this weird is, at the very least, bound for the eventual cult classic status.