The Amazing Spiderman 2, the sequel to last year’s successful Spiderman reboot from Sony Pictures, is starting to look very interesting indeed. Marc Webb has returned to direct and has promised to blow the doors off the Spiderman film franchise by expanding the universe significantly. Recently we’ve all been hearing the word “universe” a lot, and while Sony only have the Spiderman property under their belt, they’re keen to maximise its potential by expanding the scope and scale as much as possible – in the hopes that they can make more movies about different characters that also exist within the Spiderman universe.
This is a very smart plan, and if they pull it off properly it will be extremely lucrative for them; perhaps even potentially prompting Marvel or Fox to approach them for licensing, so that they can add Spiderman and his affiliates to their already burgeoning comic book movie universe. The idea of course would be to charge a principally ludicrous amount of money and thus remove the burden of Sony having to spend money, time and personnel producing their own movies, whilst also making an unbelievable amount of money from other people’s work. Business genius really, but it has to be some sort of cruel, twisted world to end up with a situation where Marvel would have to pay Sony for permission to use their OWN characters.
Anyway, The Amazing Spiderman 2 has already promised a lot in its production. We’ve of course got the returning central couple of Andrew Garfield as the eponymous wall crawler, and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey, his soon to be suffering love. While the first film ended with the death of her father and Peter Parker’s promise to stay away from her, his resistance to keeping it will ultimately put her in further danger as her father foretold. For anyone who has ever read the comic books we all know how this ends, so expect the Stacey family to start suffering again pretty soon.
We’ve also had some pretty expected, but welcome casting in that of rising stars Shailene Woodley and Dane DeHaan as Mary Jane Watson and Harry Osborn respectively (we discussed the casting of Dane DeHann previously, here). To counter-balance this, we’ve had some surprising and intuitive casting in the villain department. Originally, the villain announced was Electro (could this be to tie into the mystical lightning bold appearance in the mid credits scene of the first film?), but then Webb surprised everyone by casting Jamie Foxx as the lightning bolt wielder. Unconventional casting indeed, and one that I’m not particularly sold on. Then again, Jamie Foxx certainly suits the image of the Ultimate version of Electro, which I’m sure they’ll use considering the rest of the Ultimate influence in these films. Just a shame really, because I’m a huge fan of the original incarnation. Foxx says that this version of Electro will be more grounded (haha) than usual and redesigned. He also confirmed the classic green and yellow suit would not be featured. D’awww.
After that was announced you’d be forgiven for believing that the film would feature Electro as the primary villain and then unveil Norman Osborn for an inevitable Green Goblin appearance in the third film and be done with it. However, clearly Webb and his cohorts have very ambitious goals with this series. In further unconventional casting they announced the inclusion of Rhino as a secondary villain and that he would be played by Paul Giamatti.
Aleksei Mikhailovich Sytsevich was originally a Russian soldier who was genetically augmented to be an impenetrable badass. He was granted with super speed, strength and durability, and donned an impervious suit that made him look like a rhino, but was sadly lacking any sort of intelligence. In an earlier, less innovative franchise you could see Rhino being played by a variety of wrestlers. The fact that Webb has chosen Paul Giamatti, (a man who usually plays nerdy, schlubby characters with a sharp sense of wit) to play the grey-outfitted behemoth clearly indicates that once again they will be following closer to the Ultimate storyline, where the character is called Alex O’Hirn. In that worl,d Rhino is an intelligent criminal in an armoured suit shaped like and given the acronym R.H.I.N.O. How he will factor into Amazing Spiderman 2 and how large Giamatti’s role will be remains to be seen.
Surely that must be it? No, apparently not! Webb, ever the sneaky, coy man and exploiter of social networks, uploaded a picture to his Twitter earlier this week – depicting a mysterious locker with the hashtag #happybirthday. After some investigation it turns out that Dane DeHann’s birthday is on February 6th, which seems likely to be the source of this message. Here’s the image:
So what is so special about this locker and why has it been causing such a stir in the geek community? In the Ultimate storyline Peter Parker and his old pal Eddie Brock are investigating Peter’s father’s research. While searching they find a specialized suit that is designed to cure cancer in a locker, numbered 14, which Peter dons. The suit bonds with him and makes him stronger and even provides him with more powers, such as being able to organically create his own webbing. Eventually, Peter rejects the suit and it moves to Peter’s buddy Eddie Brock who becomes the iconic anti-hero Venom. This prompts the obvious question: is Venom going to appear in The Amazing Spiderman 2?
Recently, Sony have released a version of the Ultimate Spiderman continuity via their new animated series, and their version of events hits even closer to home. In the animated version the venom symbiote is created by Doctor Octopus for Norman Osborn, based on a blood sample of Spiderman left behind after a battle. That symbiote sought to be reunited with its genetic source, but after Peter rejected it, it instead bonded with his friend Harry Osborn. At first Harry tried to use the suit to become a new version of Spiderman to impress his father and finally win his attention. His father remained unimpressed, which drove Harry to become consumed by the suit and created Venom. While Venom originally attacked Norman Osborn, eventually the two joined forces to take down Spiderman with a Venom/Green Goblin combo. It’s certainly easy to see how this could factor in to the Amazing Spiderman movie universe that is being laid out before us.
It has become clear that Dane DeHaan, who has shown plenty of promise in previous roles in films such as Chronicle and Lawless, has been given the monumental task of not only giving us an alternate version of Harry Osborn (James Franco‘s previous take is still fresh in people’s minds), but also one of Spiderman’s most important and pivotal villains in Venom.
This is surprising news indeed, as I would have thought Venom is a character that Sony may shy away from after his cold reception in the conclusion of Sam Raimi‘s Spiderman trilogy. A large part of that cold reception was the abysmal casting of Topher Grace and while DeHaan is most certainly an infinitely better actor, you would be forgiven for imagining similar complaints to arise.
DeHann specializes at playing tortured characters hindered by some sort of malady – whether it be physical or emotional – so his casting as Harry is most certainly inspired. He definitely has the acting chops to play the character of Venom well, but it’s still debatable whether he has the physical prowess or presence to pull the more visual elements of the character off realistically. Nearly a year ago now it was rumoured that Chronicle director Josh Trank (obvious DeHaan connection) was discussing a Venom spinoff movie with Sony. The Amazing Spiderman 2 could be seen as the perfect platform to introduce a new and improved version of the character, before then headlining his own film. It makes sense from a business perspective and supports the coherent universe idea with DeHaan certainly being in a unique position of his career where he could pull something like that off.
While this is all very exciting, I do wish that this new series of films took more from the classic Spiderman comics than the new edgier Ultimate continuity. As a result, you probably won’t ever see this cinematic version of Spiderman in Marvel’s movie universe due to a huge clash in tones. Marvel manages to preserve the original comic book spirit in their films and thusly The Amazing Spiderman‘s dark tone may not gel as well as others would hope. Oh well, seems that for a while at least, Spiderman’s cinematic outings have a bad case of Nolanitis. Note: once again, do NOT Google “Nolanitis”.
It’s all very interesting in the Webb camp and there’s still plenty more to come, including rumours that they’ve redesigned Spidey’s suit by enlarging the eyes and altering the texturing. Clearly, if you weren’t already paying attention to The Amazing Spiderman 2, then you most definitely should. The film will be released in theaters on May 2nd 2014 in 3D.