One of the benefits that comes with living in a post-Avengers word is that live-action superhero ensemble movies – bringing together your favorite Marvel or DC comic book crime-fighters – are no longer an outlandish prospect. Thanks to Joss Whedon’s success with uniting characters like Iron Man, Thor and Captain America on the big screen, we’re now getting a film that features young and old versions of the same X-Men with X-Men: Days of Future Past. In addition, Warner Bros. is going to release a Batman/Superman teamup adventure, partially as a means for launching a larger shared DC universe (culminating with a live-action Justice League movie… somewhere down the line).

Sony is taking a different approach, in order to distinguish The Amazing Spider-Man franchise from the rest of the competition. As such, early signs do not point to next year’s second installment, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, laying the groundwork for Peter Parker to fight baddies alongside the Fantastic Four or Avengers – rather, the film may take steps to arrange an unavoidable future showdown between Spidey and a gallery of super-powered villains (an organization known in the comic books as the Sinister Six).

Eight newly-released Amazing Spider-Man 2 images and production stills contain some intriguing teases, with regard to the multiple antagonists who are going to appear in the sequel – like, Paul Giamatti as Russian mob enforcer Aleksei Sytsevich (who becomes The Rhino) and a hooded figure that is (presumably…) Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon transformed into his Electro state. However, one behind-the-scenes photo in particular contains the most blatant tease yet, with regard to a potential Sinister Six appearance in the future.

[Click for Full-Sized Version]

For those unaware, the Sinister Six is an iconic clandestine organization of Spider-Man villains that – following the group’s comic book introduction in 1964 – has included characters like Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Lizard, Vulture, Electro and Rhino, among other science experiments-gone-wrong in the Spider-Man universe. Similar to superhero groups like The Avengers and Justice League, whenever Spidey’s opponents band together to take down their web-slinging archenemy, dysfunction amongst their own ranks can be as much a problem for them as the do-gooder whom they’re supposed to be focusing their time and effort to take down. In other words: a Sinister Six-oriented storyline is something that could be fun to see explored onscreen.

This isn’t the first not-so-subtle tease of a Sinister Six appearance in the Amazing Spider-Man universe. We’ve been speculating about the potential villain gathering since Amazing Spider-Man‘s mid-credits scene showed Curt Connors/Lizard (Rhys Ifans) being visited by a mysterious figure that many fans have theorized could be The Gentleman – a character with ties to the Sinister Six. More recently, Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2 director Marc Webb has lent more credibility to that theory, by suggesting that The Gentleman is an essential player in the franchise’s over-arching machinations.

Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′

Combine all that with the fact that several potential Sinister Six members will have been introduced by the time the end credits begin rolling on Amazing Spider-Man 2 – plus rumors about how Dane DeHaan, Felicity Jones and unconfirmed cast member Jim Carrey are playing human characters who could transform into more dangerous creatures in the future – and it does seem as though the pieces are being put into place, with the intention of uniting Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker’s greatest enemies against him. (Maybe that will happen in the already-scheduled fourth Amazing Spider-Man installment?)

Are you onboard with the Sinister Six making an appearance in the Amazing Spider-Man universe?

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens in U.S. theaters on May 2nd, 2014.

Source: Sony/Columbia Pictures