In The Amazing Spider-Man 2 we bear witness to the birth of not one, but three Spider-Man villains: Electro (Jamie Foxx), Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan). Unlike previous comic book movies, however, this time the villains aren't just one-off foes for the hero to overcome; what we witness in the sequel is the beginning of a villainous collaboration that will continue into Amazing Spider-Man 3 and well beyond, culminating in the first and (so far) only supervillain team-up film, Sinister Six.
However, the road to that ambitious destination is an uncertain one. In trying to pull off a big supervillain team-up event film, Sony is already experiencing some of the same growing pains that Marvel Studios has felt; namely, trying to find that precarious balance between telling a self-contained cinematic story and serving a larger, multi-film universe. If the criticisms of Amazing Spider-Man 2 and our interviews with the cast and crew have revealed anything, it's that Spidey and his Sinister Six foes still have a long way to go in finding that balance, with little room for error.
[WARNING!!! Amazing Spider-Man 2 SPOILERS Follow!!!]
In the film, Harry Osborn's (Dane DeHaan) quest to save his own life results in him transforming into the Green Goblin, and luring Electro (Jamie Foxx) to serve as his henchman. When both villains are thwarted, Harry uses his connections to have an Oscorp battle suit (which is for some reason shaped like a Rhinoceros) given to Russian gangster Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti), thereby birthing the Rhino. If you can't tell from the description, it's a lot of villain origin to get through in one film, and each villain arguably gets shortchanged by the inclusion of the other two.
The fact that this problem occurs with just three villains makes one wonder: Can Amazing Spider-Man 3 establish the rest of the Sinister Six and still be a complete story - or will the Sinister Six movie be required to familiarize us with six characters at the expense of jumping right into a good crime drama? The answer is that with the right planning, sure, this could all work out - only problem is, right now it doesn't sound like very much of that plan is solidly in place - at least at the actor level.
Check out this snippet from our interview with Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan - which you can watch in full in the video above.
Screen Rant: I was thinking about it and you guys are now in a unique position; not just in the genre, but in movies in general. I couldn’t think of that many times, in movies as opposed to TV, where you get to develop a villain character over multiple installments instead of having to take it all in one go. Is that a challenge for you guys as actors? I mean, some actors have trouble revisiting [character at all]...
Dane DeHaan: Yeah, look, I mean, neither of us knew what was going to come next after we made these movies. There was no real plan for the future. And I think what’s exciting is people are seeing these movies and they’re starting to not just be fans of Spider-Man, but they’re fans of the bad guys, too. Team Electro and the Osborn Army. There’s a lot of fandom coming out of thsis movie and it seems like there’s a future there. But I don’t know really what that is, but I can’t wait to find out.
DeHaan's comments seem to indicate what many people have surmised from The Amazing Spider-Man 2: that these plans for villain spin-offs and such weren't necessarily introduced from the very beginning.
While it's not unusual for a studio and a film crew to focus on one installment at a time, we are now living in an age where superhero movie universes are being plotted out and executed with meticulous oversight and coordination. Marvel Studios has made plans until 2028 - but only learned how to properly plan in advances after taking hits on balancing story vs. universe-building in Phase One - and then, explaining solo character motivations in Phase Two. But if Captain America 2 is any indication, Marvel has learned from Marvel mistakes, and is now playing the game much smarter.
The Sinister Six movie is being written and directed by Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, Cabin in the Woods, World War Z), which could be a good sign. Recent viral marketing has hinted as to the Sinister Six character lineup, but there are still a few specific questions to be answered (like, will it be Kraven the Hunter or Black Cat? And which character is represented by that weird mask in the viral vid?).
But once characters are in place, fans are going to start asking what they really have been asking since before Amazing Spider-Man 2 even hit theaters: What's the plan to get us to this big payoff? And will the journey be worth the destination? Will Sinister Six be a milestone in the genre or just another film undone by the process of shared universe building? Only time will tell.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is now in theaters. Click the tag below for more of our interviews with the cast.