“It was a good problem to have,” says Drew Goddard, the very in-demand writer of this weekend’s excellent sci-fi flick The Martian.
A year-plus ago, Goddard, who began his career as a writer for Joss Whedon (Buffy) and J.J. Abrams (Alias) before penning Cloverfield and directing the cult favorite Cabin in the Woods, experienced a crazy stroke of luck.“I had three projects all green-lit at the same time, which never happens,” he says, seated across from me in the lobby of a swank Manhattan hotel.Those projects were Sinister Six, a group of supervillains culled from the Spider-Man universe; the Netflix series Daredevil, with Goddard serving as head writer and showrunner; and writing and directing The Martian. Goddard was forced to make a tough choice, and decided to cede directorial duties on The Martian to Ridley Scott and surrender showrunner duties on Daredevil in order to be one of the key architects in Sony’s expanded Spider-Man universe—with Goddard writing and directing Sinister Six, and serving as an executive producer on Sinister, Venom, and The Amazing Spider-Man 3.
First, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 underperformed and was panned by critics. Then the Sony hack happened, and the entire company was thrown into disarray. This left Sinister Six, a supervillain team-up that included Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, and Sandman, in a precarious position. And in February, Marvel and Sony announced that they’d struck a deal to bring Spider-Man to the MCU with a reboot film and that while ASM3 was canceled, the studio was still moving forward with Sinister and Venom—though they’d be delayed indefinitely. (Sinister was initially expected to hit theaters in 2016.)
I ask Goddard whether David Ayer’s Suicide Squad messed with the status of Sinister, as the two are thematically similar, but he brushes that notion aside.
“I’m confident that Sinister was like nothing else out there. We were definitely going for something different, crazy, and fun,” says Goddard, later adding, “I don’t think Sinister was going to be that dark. Suicide looks like a David Ayer film, who I love. Sinister was me, so it was the closest thing I felt to what we did with Cabin. If Cabin was our take on the horror film, Sinister was our take on the superhero film.”
Was. Were. “Why do you keep referring to Sinister in the past tense?” I ask him.
“The truth is, things change, and Sony got hacked. Shit happens, man,” he replies with a shrug. “But as a fan, I’m thrilled because I’m excited to see Spider-Man show up in the Marvel universe. That’s what I’ve always wanted. So I sort of step aside and say, ‘Great, if that’s what led to this then it’s fantastic.’” Then, the kicker: “Here’s what we know: Sinister is not happening anytime soon,” he says, adding he’s trying to remain “optimistic” about it.
In the Sony emails, it was revealed that Goddard had wanted to cast Matt Damon as Doc Ock and Tom Hardy as Sandman in Sinister Six.Asked about the Damon casting in particular, since the actor is starring in The Martian, Goddard says, “Look, the tricky part of casting is you have these conversations, and I just want to work with the people I want to work with and try to cast the actors I love. I will continue to try to put Matt Damon in anything.”
Overall, Goddard says he doesn’t regret his choice to pursue Sinister.“I loved that script. I loved working with those artists. I loved working with that team. No matter what happens, I got paid to think about Spider-Man for a year, and it doesn’t get better than that,” he says, flashing a smile. “You have to maintain perspective.”