Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man reboot swung too close to director Sam Raimi's Spider-Man for some people, but there were also key differences that set the stage for a sequel that could move things further away from Raimi's web-slinger trilogy.
Those include a mid-credits scene that teased a classic Spidey villain - who has not been featured in any live-action installments to date - and leaving Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) in a place where he remains a reckless, vengeful, and somewhat isolated teenager who's still got a ways to go, as far as handling his superhero responsibilities.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 is going to make Pete's odyssey even more complicated, by adding potential future love interest Mary Jane Watson (as played by Shailene Woodley, The Descendants). Similarly, the search is currently on for a suitable actor to portray Harry Osborn - who, as comic book readers (and anyone who saw Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy) knows, starts off a loyal friend of Peter before, well... things get messy.
James Franco made a name for himself as an adult actor by portraying Harry in Raimi's films, which featured the character as a broodier and more pessimistic foil to Tobey Maguire's wide-eyed take on Peter (well, before Spider-Man 3 happened, but that's another story). Last week's shortlist of actors auditioning for the role of Harry in Amazing Spider-Man 2 suggested that director Marc Webb's sequel may likewise paint Harry as a modern James Dean type - seeing how candidates Dane DeHaan (Chronicle), Brady Corbet (Funny Games) and Alden Ehrenreich (Stoker) have all shown a propensity for playing young men (or adolescents) with a dark streak.
However, the latest report from Heat Vision claims that the Amazing Spider-Man 2 filmmakers and producers (which include co-screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci) are now considering actors with "athleticism and good looks" for the Harry Osborn role. So, it seems, the character could now instead be shaping up to be a charismatic and popular jock type who unexpectedly finds a kindred spirit in the less-outgoing Pete, with a dynamic similar to that between Michael B. Jordan and Dane DeHaan in Chronicle (to cite an appropriate, recent, example).
Either way, the list of contenders now includes Sam Claflin, Eddie Redmayne and Douglas Booth - all three appeared in the Starz mini-series The Pillars of the Earth - as well as Boyd Holbrook (Hatfields & McCoys). Claflin moved on to tackle small roles in both Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Snow White and the Huntsman; he'll continue to travel blockbuster turf in 2013, as Claflin's playing the handsome Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Redmayne, by comparison, co-headlined My Week With Marilyn (and he's going to appear in Les Misérables this Christmas), while Booth is shooting Darren Aronofsky's Biblical epic Noah and Holdbrook will make an appearance in the adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's The Host next year.
These four gentlemen all seem reasonable fits for the 'new' Harry Osborn; though, Holbrook and Booth arguably look the role the best. It's trickier when it comes to acting chops, though, as most of these actors have yet to be given a juicy role to sink their teeth into; that also sets this new shortlist of prospectives apart from the previous candidates for the Spider-Man role (interpret that as you will).
We should find out who gets the job soon enough, as principal photography on Amazing Spider-Man 2 is scheduled to get underway in a few months. For the time being, what's of greater interest (to this writer, anyway) is whether or not the script is being retooled to account for handsome and athletic Harry. Then again, it's possible that Webb decided Garfield's Peter Parker does better juxtaposed against a version of the Harry character with a lighter demeanor (before his father Norman Osborn enters the picture, that is).
Does this casting approach change-up sound like an appropriate choice, given the established differences between the Amazing Spider-Man continuity and Raimi's Spider-Man universe? Let us know in the comments section.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 swings into theaters on May 2nd, 2014.