Is there any other standalone Marvel movie with as much hype as Spider-Man: Homecoming?
Certainly, there are plenty of good reasons to be excited. From his lively and pitch-perfect introduction in Captain America: Civil War to the ever-growing, talented cast and villain roster, fans can't get enough of Tom Holland's wall-crawling wonder. Now, fans have even more to celebrate; with Bokeem Woodbine’s Shocker now appearing alongside Michael Keaton’s Vulture, we’re getting to see the first big screen debut for these two lesser-known villains.
But what of their cinematic predecessors? Are there any which we’d like to see –all shiny and renewed- in the Marvel Universe? And if so, why do these characters deserve a second (or even third) chance to impress?
Scroll on down to find out which top seven villains we want to see pitted against Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in an all-new iteration.
Are your Spider-Senses tingling? They should be!
7. Dr Curt Connors/ The Lizard
Who? – A one-armed scientist, Curt Connors developed a serum based on reptile DNA that would grow back his arm, and so help others like himself. The experiment went wrong, and turned him into a savage, super-strong monster. Think Killer Croc, but with more family drama...and mad science!
Why? - The Amazing Spider-Man incarnation of the snout-less Lizard had its fair share of critics. Rhys Ifans did a decent enough job, but his character's arc was completely overshadowed by the movies’ re-telling of Spider-Man's (Andrew Garfield) origin story.
Admittedly we have had quite a few scientists-gone-bad in Spidey films already, but we deserves an iteration of the Lizard, with more screen time and development to make the most of his character. After all, there is a lot of meaty subtext contained in his character: concerning man and beast, nature and science, innovation and hubris...the list goes on!
What stories should be told? - Most of the Lizard’s best stories involve Connors being torn between his family life and the growing, bestial instincts of his alter ego. Addressing this in a similar way to the Spider-Man story 'Shed’ would be a great way forward. Here, Curt becomes more aggressive and territorial, as the distinction between him and the Lizard becomes ever blurred...until there is a horrific outcome. This slow struggle between man and beast was only touched on in The Amazing Spider-Man, so it could be a fabulously dramatic story for future films. But if the filmmakers were to use it as a basis, they would have to tailor it to be a little less dark and disturbing!
Who could play him? - Cuba Gooding Jr or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Both have charisma, as well as the range to show duality of the character.
6. Max Dillon/Electro
Who? - One of Spidey’s first villains, the electrician Max Dillon gained the ability to control and channel massive amounts of electricity following a freak accident.
Why? - Whilst Electro was the primary villain of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, he got sidelined in favor of the new Green Goblin's (Dane DeHaan) debut, as well as Sony’s attempts at franchise building. It didn’t help that Jamie Fox’s flamboyant interpretation of Max Dillon as a scorned and unstable Spider-Man fan divided moviegoers.
What stories should be told? - As a professional criminal, Electro’s main goals are the acquisition of power and money which, naturally, are foiled by Spider-Man. Yet they aren’t as interesting plots for a movie as, say, his collaborations with other villains. With the Sinister Six likely to feature in future Spidey movies, this could be a great way to reintroduce Spider-Man’s electrical enemy.
Who could play him? - The filmmakers for Homecoming seem to be going for a youthful range of talent. So, reflecting this, how about Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul or the up-and-coming Riz Ahmed?
5. Dr Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus
Who? - A bespectacled, arrogant, yet brilliant nuclear physicist and inventor, Otto Octavius became fused to his set of mechanical arms during a failed experiment. Developing a telepathic link with the apparatus, Octavius embarked upon a criminal career, to assume dominion over everyone to prove his superiority.
Why? - Some fans may decry this entry. After all, Alfred Molina’s Octavius, was a highlight in the acclaimed Spider-Man 2...but that movie is now over twelve old! It's strange to think that movie theaters have been starved of Doctor Octopus.
After all, he frequently ranks very highly on the many “Best Spider-Man villain” polls, since he poses both a physical and psychological challenge to Peter Parker. It's time for a new version to grace the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
What stories should be told? - Our minds may jump to the recent Superior Spider-Man comic arc (where Ock becomes Spider-Man after a sneaky mind-swap), but it might be a bit early in the game for such a bold story line. Besides, Doctor Octopus is at his best when he’s in his intelligent and Machiavellian mode. Indeed in recent comics he even held the entire world to ransom! It would be great if we could see an arrogant iteration of Octopus using science and technology to achieve his goals...maybe even as the Master Planner? If so, wouldn't it be great to see Tom Holland reenact this classic Spider-Man moment?
Who could play him? - David Harewood would be a great fit, and he is no stranger to superheroes (he’s Martian Manhunter on CBS's Supergirl), but how about the left-field choice of Jonah Hill? Don’t scoff! Hill may be known for his comedic roles, but he has been turning away from these in recent years. Take his performance in War Dogs- he may be funny, but he exhibits a decidedly cold and manipulative edge, which could be channeled into this formidable foe.
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4. Norman Osborn/ The Green Goblin
Who? - Cutthroat industrialist and genius Norman Osborn took a performance enhancing formula which imbued him with enhanced strength and speed. The flip side? He went insane, decided to become a crime boss and developed a strong fondness for Halloween iconography.
Why? - His (forced) appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 aside (played by Chris Cooper), Norman Osborn is a similar case to Doctor Octopus. Simply put, he’s too popular, and too good a villain to be left out. Not only is he an equally all-rounded threat, but his extensive catalog of battles with Spider-Man is still aching to be explored on screen.
What stories should be told? - To avoid risking cinematic-Goblin fatigue, it might be wise for Marvel to focus on Osborn’s power plays before he gets to soar on a bat-glider. The Spectacular Spider-Man TV series depicted him as being deeply involved in the creation of Spidey’s other foes, so this could be a good approach for the movies to adopt. Perhaps Homecoming will see him as an ally or benefactor of Michael Chernus’s Tinkerer? And who knows, could we see Dark Reign occur further down the line?
Who could play him? - Matthew McConaughey’s name has been bandied about by fans, and, let’s face it, he’d be marvelous in the role. If he passed, then I’m sure that Jason Isaacs would be a worthy second choice.
3. Gustav Fiers/The Gentleman
Who? - Fiers has no special powers, but he is not one to be underestimated! He may be an old man, but he is a sadistic criminal mastermind who holds a disdain for superheroes, and a particular grudge against Spider-Man. Indeed, he paid various super villains to crush the wall-crawler in revenge for the death of his criminal brother.
Why? - Confused? I bet some fans are! After all, the Gentleman has never appeared in any comics. Indeed, his only page-bound appearance is that of Adam-Troy Castro’s Sinister Six novels, in which he is quite the dastardly varmint. He also briefly appeared in both of The Amazing Spider-Man movies played by Michael Masse (as seen above).
Think he's too obscure? Well, Marvel has a knack for remedying that. Many audiences hadn’t heard of Rocket Racoon and Ant-Man until relatively recently. Now? They are household favorites. The same could soon be said about The Gentleman.
What stories should be told? - Because he’s appeared in very few stories, there is a lot of leg room for Marvel in terms of his plot potential. However, his association with the Sinister Six is certainly notable, as is his partnership with the second version of the Red Skull (yup, there's more than one!). The latter could be particularly useful in future movies, if Marvel wanted to further integrate Spider-Man into their cinematic universe.
Who could play him? - You need someone of experience and presence to capture the aloof and misanthropic manner of Fiers. The criminally underrated talents of David Warner or James Cromwell could be brilliantly utilized in this role.
2. J. Jonah Jameson
Who? - The loudmouthed, larger-than-life editor of The Daily Bugle, Jolly Jonah has waged an extensive war of words against the wall-crawler.
Why? - Whether he’s financing the construction of Spider-Slayers, offering cash-rewards for photos of an unmasked Spidey, or even presiding over New York as its Mayor, Jameson has long been one of the biggest thorns in our hero’s side. Though his characterization varies considerably, he’s an integral part of the world of Spider-Man, featuring in many important plots and proving to be a great source of levity in the Marvel comic universe.
Indeed, he was played so well by J.K. Simmons in the original Spider-Man trilogy that Sony decided to omit him from the reboot! He was sorely missed in The Amazing Spider-Man movies; a few name drops just doesn’t cut it. Now that Simmons is policing Gotham City, his return to the flat-top haircut looks unlikely, so we desperately need someone to replace him!
What stories should be told? - Hounding Spider-Man on the sidelines as Peter’s overbearing boss would cut it just fine. Any story which involved him putting out super-powered hits on Spidey might be a bit too corny or contrived by today’s standards.
Who could play him? - There are several likely candidates- however it's got to be Harrison Ford. He does grumpiness like no one else.
1. Eddie Brock/Venom
Who? - Spider-Man shunned his alien costume after he realised that it was attempting to permanently bond with him. The symbiote instead found disgraced journalist Eddie Brock, granting him Spider-Man’s powers. Bonding over their shared hatred of the Web-head, they became Venom.
Why? - Well, he would have to top the list, wouldn’t he? Fans were eager to see Topher Grace play him in Spider-Man 3, but they were left sorely wanting. In hindsight, Grace wasn’t great for the role, but then again, he wasn’t given much to work with. As his origin was hastily rushed through (at the studio’s behest) Grace’s Brock got barely any time to develop, it was clear that Sam Raimi had very little love for the character.
In fact, he hardly resembled his comic book counterpart at all! He didn’t even refer to himself as “we!” As such a successful and dark reflection of our favorite hero, fans would be very happy to see Venom join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in all of his proper glory.
What stories should be told? - His origin story is a must! However, it shouldn’t be rushed in one film (looking at you again, Spider-Man 3). Spider-Man should possess the symbiote for at least one movie, so that Venom can return a sequel or two later for dramatic effect. This shouldn’t be too hard for Marvel – they have already proved to be masters at playing the long game.
Who should play him? - Traditionally Brock is jacked, grizzled and considerably older than Peter Parker. Joel Edgerton and Stephen Graham both have the build and the acting chops to convincingly play the symbiotic scoundrel.
Spider-Man: Homecoming may be under a lot of pressure to deliver after Civil War, but it also has a great deal of potential. If it's successful, it could mean many more deals in the same vein as the current Sony/Marvel arrangement. Plus, now Marvel Studios has access to Spider-Man's rogues gallery!
Spidey's lineup of villains is arguably second best (behind Batman's) and, coupled with his vast range of supporting characters, there is a lot of promise, not just for Spider-Man's movies but for the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A greater variety of characters and situations means that there are more stories to tell, and therefore there is more disparity. And this is key. After all, Kevin Feige has discussed how, by pushing into new directions and genres, filmmakers will stave off superhero stagnation, and perpetuate this glorious movie trend!
I don't know about you, but July 2017 can't come fast enough for me!