Another day, another image from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 set has made its way online, courtesy of director Marc Webb. This time, it arrives in the form of a sneak peek at Paul Giamatti as the Russian thug Aleksei Sytsevich in human state, prior to his transformation into Rhino.
Sytsevich was introduced in the Spider-Man comics in the 1960s as a criminal for hire for an Eastern Bloc country. He volunteered to undergo a dangerous genetic manipulation process, which result in him developing superhuman physical abilities (including thick armored skin) - but no enhanced intelligence, which has earned him a reputation for being one of Spidey's most powerful, but also dumbest, law-breaking opponents (in comic book form, anyway).
The character, when transformed in Amazing Spider-Man 2, will probably resemble the version of Rhino featured in the "Ultimate Spider-Man" comic book continuity, similar to other antagonists in the rebooted Spider-Man movie series (see: the design for Jamie Foxx as Electro). However, it seems he'll have the character's traditional comic book backstory, judging by the first image of Giamatti released through Webb's Twitter account (with the caption "Privet, Amerika. Poznakom'tes c Aleksei Sytsevich!").
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Giamatti's tattoos could be a sign that Sytsevich served time in a Russian prison before the events in Amazing Spider-Man 2 (wonder if he has a pet bird too?); though, it's possible he will still be serving time in the film's beginning, prior to him being transferred to the Ravencroft Institute. Webb has previously released a few images teasing that iconic Spider-Man universe jail, which may or may not be in cahoots with Oscorp Industries by supplying them with the patients for genetic manipulation experiments. That would explain just how, exactly, a thug with barbed wire inked on his forehead (and other threatening tattoos) ends up getting super-powers in the film.
Co-screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek Into Darkness) have indicated that every one of the villains and/or antagonists who appears in Amazing Spider-Man 2 is being included for an important purpose, as far as serving the larger story being told.
While it remains to be seen why Rhino is being introduced in the live-action Spider-Man movie-verse now - during a sequel that also introduces Max Dillon (Foxx), in addition to new screen interpretations of Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper) and his son Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) - we're hopeful that the answer will be good, and maybe lead to bigger and better things somewhere down the line (i.e. a Sinister Six appearance) in a later Amazing Spider-Man installment.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens in U.S. theaters on May 2nd, 2014.
Source: Marc Webb