The Amazing Spider-Man was designed to serve as the first chapter in a series of movies featuring Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker, as evidenced by the number of plot threads (no pun intended) lefts dangling by the film's conclusion. That's not to mention, the ambiguous nature of the mid-credits scene and hints of future developments (i.e. that something big lies beyond the horizon).
Casting for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has provided support for this theory. The sequel will incorporate several additional important characters from the Spider-Man comic books and Sam Raimi's live-action movie trilogy, like Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper), Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and Mary Jane Watson (Shailene Woodley). Some of these people aren't expected to be featured all that heavily in the film's storyline, and may simply be introduced in the sequel - through a few minutes of screen-time - in order to lay the groundwork for them to play more essential roles down the line, in a subsequent installment.
Sony is already looking well-ahead into the future, as the studio has now officially claimed dates to release the third and fourth installments in the Amazing Spider-Man film continuity in theaters. Hence, as it now stands, Amazing Spider-Man 2 will kick-off the Summer Movie Season (which starts in May) next year, followed by Amazing Spider-Man 3 on June 10th, 2016 and Amazing Spider-Man 4 on May 4th, 2018.
The rising salaries for the principle players on the previous Spider-Man movie trilogy - which includes stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst - were contributing factors in Sony's decision to start the superhero franchise over, rather than move ahead with Spider-Man 4 (as was the original plan). However, that may not be so much an issue with the Amazing Spider-Man films, in part because Garfield's female costar, Emma Stone, will probably be done playing Gwen Stacy at that point (the odds are against the character making it out of Amazing Spider-Man 2 alive).
Similarly, Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2 director Marc Webb will - in all likelihood - not be working on the third and fourth installments, given that he still needs to fulfill his obligations to direct a movie or two for Fox Searchlight (that almost prevented him from helming the Spidey sequel). That's to say, fewer people will be getting fatter paychecks for the third and fourth Amazing Spider-Man movies, and thus Sony will be less inclined to abandon ship over the rising cost (assuming there's no sudden drop in the box office returns for these films).
Finally, as mentioned before, there's good reason to believe that Sony will keep upping its game on each subsequent Amazing Spider-Man installment, so as to compete with Marvel Studios, Fox and WB/DC's forthcoming wave of superhero films. That could mean we'll be getting a Sinister Six team-up somewhere down the line, in addition to (possibly) a more satisfying Venom storyline than the Eddie Brock subplot in Spider-Man 3.
What are you hoping to see in future Amazing Spider-Man movies? Let us know in the comments section!
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens in U.S. theaters on May 2nd, 2014, followed by The Amazing Spider-Man 3 on June 10th, 2016 and The Amazing Spider-Man 4 on May 4th, 2018.
Source: Sony/Columbia Pictures