Sony may have passed on Silver & Black, one of several planned Spider-Man spinoffs, but director and co-writer Gina Prince-Bythewood said the information she got from working on that since-canceled project was invaluable. It helped her land Netflix’s The Old Guard, which has catapulted her career and possibly launched a new comic book movie franchise.
“Everything happens for a reason,” she told IndieWire. “I learned so much in that year and a half. All the stuff I was learning about doing a film of that scale I could transfer over to The Old Guard. So it didn’t feel like a gigantic leap.”
Prince-Bythewood said she spent a year and a half prepping Silver & Black—which would’ve starred the characters of Silver Sable and Black Cat, and feature connections to the Spider-Man and Venom films. The Love & Basketball director did her research, developing looks for sets and costumes, scouting locations, and storyboarding action sequences. She even met with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins several times to discuss making the leap from smaller films to big-budget comic book films, while making sure it still pushed the envelope as the Thelma & Louise of the comic book world.
“I wanted to go edgier than some of the Marvel films,” she said. “It was a question of how far could I push it in that Marvel universe.”
Unfortunately, Silver & Black saw a series of delays, largely due to scripting, with Prince-Bythewood saying in 2018 that “when you’re doing a film of that magnitude, it’s gotta be right.” Eventually, Sony canceled the film but noted that they still want to use the characters in other projects. The director took the work she did on Silver & Black and translated it into her pitch for The Old Guard, Greg Rucka’s adaptation of his 2017 graphic novel with Leandro Fernández—which was perfect because it was a story that starred two women, the very subject she was eager to delve into in Silver & Black.
“Silver & Black put me in the conversation,” she said. “I was one of those couple of women people go to for these big films. I knew what kind of movies Skydance make. It was exhilarating and nerve-racking. I knew I loved this project, partly because I could do everything I wanted to do from the other film: an edgy superhero film with two women.”
In a separate interview with Wired, Prince-Bythewood shared how she worked to make sure The Old Guard didn’t feature the common problems of comic book films—namely featuring racist and sexist tropes, or including reductive plot points like “catfighting.” For example, she made sure any onscreen fights between Nile (KiKi Layne) and Andy (Charlize Theron) didn’t include moments like Nile throwing Andy across the room because they wanted to be mindful of how women engage in combat. It was a way of putting her own stamp on the comic book genre, something Prince-Bythewood has wanted to be a part of for a very long time.
“I love action films. That superhero thing, the good versus evil, I love all that,” she said. “Wonder Woman really inspired me. I loved the direction they were going. Black Panther changed culture, changed the game. Logan is a beautiful film that I cried in. I wanted my turn.”
Prince-Bythewood recently said she was interested in returning to Silver & Black after the release of The Old Guard. But she doesn’t know where things are at in the process or whether the film could even work in Sony’s new vision of their Spider-Man movie universe. The Old Guard is currently available on Netflix.
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