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Spider-Man rumors swirl as we speculate on the eventual villain


Speculation continues to swirl this morning regarding the casting of Spider-Man in Sony’s anticipated reboot. While bloggers duke it out online with studio heads, we’re choosing to look ahead and figure out who ol’ web head will fight in the expected blockbuster.

The rumor mill started churning once HitFix reported that Logan Lerman, star of Fox’s fantasy epic “Percy Jackson,” was the “clear frontrunner” to play Spidey’s alter ego, Peter Parker, in the new picture, which will be directed by Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”). Lerman, 18, fits the demographic Sony reportedly wants for its reboot, as the action will shift the Marvel superhero back to high school for a younger adventure — though not, necessarily, an origin story.

Sony, however, immediately denied the report, prompting HitFix to post an update late Sunday night claiming it “stands behind its initial source on this story.” Sony, of course, denied problems with director Sam Raimi’s planned fourth installment of his Spider-Man franchise. Weeks later, the studio pulled the plug on that sequel and went in this current direction.

I’m going to echo a sentiment expressed by David Poland on his Hot Blog, writing, “I don’t really give a flying f*** who the next Spider-Man is.” I agree, though perhaps for different reasons than Poland.

I just don’t think it matters that much who wears the mask as much as who he’s fighting while he wears it.

Villains are crucial to these superhero franchises. You could argue they are more important than the actual hero. Think back to Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of The Joker, who completely overshadowed Michael Keaton’s Batman. Same goes for Heath Ledger when he tackled the same role for Chris Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” One of the reasons I believe Superman movies fail to captivate larger audiences is because we routinely get updated versions of the same old villain: Lex Luthor.

Even in the Spider-Man realm, villains have trumped Tobey Maguire’s hero. Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina were excellent choices to play classic Spider-Man foes The Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus, respectively. And when the studio pushed Raimi to include Venom, a villain he didn’t want, for “Spider-Man 3,” the mishandling of the beloved opponent torpedoed the franchise.

So have fun debating who will play Spider-Man in the upcoming film. We’re far more interested in which nemesis Spidey will battle.

I have no idea which villain is showcased in James Vanderbilt’s Spider-Man screenplay (though if someone has a copy of the script, please send it to sean@hollywoodnews.com). But I do have three villains I’d love to see in Webb’s new film, followed by reasons I think they actually have a chance to make it on screen.

1. Venom
Sending Spider-Man back to high school seems like a nod to the Ultimate Spider-Man comic book series, which ran from 2000 to 2009 and reimagined the superhero’s high-school days. Creators Mark Bagley and Brian Michael Bendis recreated Spidey’s origins, bringing back most of the hero’s classic foes. But eventually, Venom took center stage as a rivalry formed between young Peter Parker and Eddie Brock, Jr., a university student who was Peter’s childhood friend and the son of Peter’s father’s long-time collaborator on an experimental power-increasing symbiote named Venom. Using Venom as a villain would fit the Ultimate mold, and allow Webb to properly handle a beloved villain who was short-changed in Raimi’s third “Spider-Man” film.

2. The Lizard
Going with Green Goblin or Doc Ock will invite comparisons to Raimi’s films, which Sony would be wise to avoid. Choosing The Lizard, however, is an opportunity for Sony to establish some continuity with Raimi’s films while still going in an original direction. For two films, Dylan Baker played Dr. Curt Connors, a college professor who one day transforms into the deadly Lizard. Fans waited to see if Raimi would go to that villain, giving Baker a chance to capitalize on the groundwork he’d established. Alas, it never happened. But Sony could (and should) cast Baker in its new Spider-Man film and allow the actor to fully realize the villain he has been itching to play. Lizard also would make a worthy foe for Spidey and could look amazing with a proper CGI treatment.

3. Electro
Using a member of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery would be fine. But Raimi already tapped Sandman, and others — from Mysterio to The Vulture — are too thin to carry an entire film. Electro, however, gives you a jolting villain (ha ha) with ties to a larger story that can be explored in subsequent films. In the Ultimate universe, Electro works for The Kingpin, the sinister mob boss who controls a larger tapestry of evil schemes. Introducing Electro in the first film could build to a Kingpin reveal at the end of the film, setting up the inevitable sequel and laying out an arc Sony could follow for at least three films … when they’d likely dump Webb and reboot the franchise all over again!

About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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  • April 12, 2010 | Permalink |

    Kingpin was already used for Fox”s “Daredevil”. I don’t think Sony has the rights to the character.

  • April 12, 2010 | Permalink |

    As Kevin said, the kingpin is going to be in the next Daredevil reboot for sure because he is a larger, more important villain in that world. Silvermane is not a bad idea though. I think you left out a big one, Scorpion. That villain could very easily carry an entire film on his own. I would personally very much like to see him.

    My two least favorite of the mainstream villains are Vulture and Kraven the Hunter. I think that as long as they do not go there they will be fine.

  • April 13, 2010 | Permalink |

    How about this story line. On the day that Peter Parker’s bitten, the guide (female) showing the class around, was also bitten while trying to re-capture the spider. When she starts to transform into “Spider Woman, lets give her the name, “Black Widow”, she’s ratted out by her co-workers. A top secret agency of the government imprison her to see if she can be of some use to the military. Because of her military connection, her powers are some how greater than Spider Mans.

    Now, in the present day. She breaks free and seeks revenge on her former captors with only Spider Man standing in her way. At some point in the story, Black Widow kidnaps Mary Jane, meaning that Spider Man comes to the rescue. In the climax, just before Spidey subdues/kills the Black Widow, Mary Jane is bitten by the same spider that had bitten both Peter Parker and Black Widow. This is your cliff hanger ending. Will Mary Jane become Mrs. Spider Man (in every since of the word) or have some other strange effect that could be the story line of Spider Man 12?….Hey Sony, I’m up for a writing assignment anytime!

  • April 25, 2010 | Permalink |

    No way that’s stupid
    We need to start with a very long origin story. We need to get to know the real Peter Parker because in my opinion Raimi’s origin story was lame. We need to see the geek Peter so we can fully understand the glory of his transformation. Now the villian needs to be someone not as popular, not someone who Raimi used, and needs to be able to support the intire movie. I think the logical choice would be the Scorpion. He has some good stories behind him and is a very able villian. You can’t start a new movie with villians that need more development a.k.a the lizard, green goblin, and venom. Now what to call it? I say call it The Amazing Spider-man. There’s not many options. You can’t just call it Spider-man reboot, that would suck. Calling it The Amazing Spider-man gives you the ability to call the sequels names along the same line, such as, The Spectacular Spider-man. And who cares who plays Peter, how hard can it be to pretend your a geek.

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