It seems that Sony is determined to create a Spider-Man cinematic universe of their own design. Over the last several weeks, various reports have confirmed that Sony has cast Tom Hardy as Venom in a standalone film, plan on featuring Carnage as the villain of said film, and even intend to give Mysterio and Kraven the Hunter movies of their very own. In a way, it’s impossible to blame the studio for so enthusiastically greenlighting so many projects based on the villains of the Spider-Man universe. Not only are superhero films still as lucrative as they’ve ever been, but there are few rogues galleries in all of comics that equal the web-slinger's collection of foes.
Still, questions remain regarding who should actually play all of these incredible enemies. Indeed, recent film history has proven that finding the right actor or actress to portray certain beloved characters may just end up being the make or break element of a comic book film that determines if it ascends to the highest pantheon of the medium or falls down into the pit of failure alongside projects like The Amazing Spider-Man. To help ensure that Sony’s future Marvel endeavors are successful, we think they should consider the following candidates for leading roles.
This is our attempt at Dreamcasting the Spider-Man Rogues Gallery.
*Note: Villains already cast in upcoming MCU or Sony projects were not considered eligible for this list.
15 Hobgoblin - Michael Pitt
Hobgoblin was initially created as a way for Spider-Man writers to reintroduce a Green Goblin like character into the hero's universe without always having to use the Green Goblin. While this has inspired some to refer to him as an imitation Green Goblin - “I can’t believe it’s not Green Goblin,” if you will - Hobgoblin has evolved over the years and become one of the most consistently entertaining Spidey foes around. Of course, that’s due in some small part to the absurd level of craziness which drives him.
Michael Pitt is perhaps best known for his work on Boardwalk Empire, which was certainly a fantastic breakout role for the young actor, but doesn’t really capture Pitt’s full range. If you want to see how Pitt may fair as the Hobgoblin, just watch - or try to watch - his horrifying portrayal of Mason Verger in Hannibal. Pitt does “crazy scary” as well as anyone.
14 Mister Negative - Leonardo Nam
Mister Negative long toiled in the pit of semi-obscurity until developer Insomniac recently revealed that he will be a primary villain in the upcoming PS4 game, Marvel’s Spider-Man. Those who have just recently heard of Mister Negative would do well to think of him as a sort of superpowered Kingpin. While his criminal empire is not as vast as Wilson Fisk’s, Negative’s ability to empower objects and perform some shape shifting makes him a pure terror.
There is no shortage of talented actors who could bring Mister Negative to life, but our nod goes to Leonardo Nam. Most people will recognize Nam as the careless Westworld doctor whose compassion - or perhaps just passions - helped spark a host revolution. The actor’s physical build and facial expressions are perfect for the role, and we’d really like to see what he can do in an overtly evil role.
13 Rhino - Conan Stevens
Oh, to be a fly in the room when it was decided that Paul Giamatti should play Rhino. No disrespect to Mr. Giamatti, but the Rhino of the comics is most notable for being a physical force of nature who leaves nothing but a trail of destruction in his considerable wake. Any actor that plays him needs to be able to convey an outright terrifying presence through their mere existence.
Okay, so maybe it’s a little obvious that we would cast Conan Stevens into this role, but sometimes the obvious pick is obvious for a very good reason. Stevens made quite the name for himself as the original Mountain in Game of Thrones. While he would eventually drop out of that role, his effortlessly intimidating nature makes him a perfect candidate for the Rhino role. As for why we’d pick Stevens over current Mountain Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson...well, if we’re being entirely honest, we still haven’t forgiven him for killing Prince Oberyn.
12 Alistair Smythe - Ben Whishaw
Alistair Smythe’s father Spencer once joined the legion of tragically misguided criminal figures who decided they wanted to kill Spider-Man. Spencer Smythe’s grand plan to do so involved the creation of an army of robots known as Spider-Slayers. When the robots and Spencer were predictably defeated, young Alistair decided to pick up where his father left off. However, Alistair went a step further by creating a power suit for himself that greatly enhanced his speed, strength, and reflexes. In the process, he turned himself into one of Spider-Man’s more formidable foes.
Ben Whishaw is another non-traditional villain actor that we’d love to see take a trip to the dark side. Many of you will know Whishaw from his portray of Q in the latest Bond films. Indeed, it is his work in those films which makes this casting choice such an intriguing possibility. We know Whishaw can play the young and intelligent scientist-type incredibly well, and we believe that he could add just the right amount of evil to that role if called upon to do so.
11 Shriek - Nicole Beharie
Generally speaking, Shriek is a Spider-Man villain that doesn’t get enough love. She was introduced as a kind of partner/paramour to Carnage, but Shriek has never really relied on Carnage’s star power to be interesting. In that sense, she’s a lot like Harley Quinn. Both are psychotic, dangerous, and oddly charismatic. Shriek, however, also has access to an array of superpowers that include the ability to read people’s fears and exploit them to her benefit.
While Nicole Beharie entered into the public consciousness through her work in such daring films as Shame and American Violet, she really won over a mass audience by virtue of her eyebrow-raising work in the surprisingly watchable Sleepy Hollow. Beharie’s acting range is simply tremendous, and we have no doubt that her willingness to take on challenging roles would help her to convey some of Shriek’s subtle characteristics.
10 Morbius - Viggo Mortensen
You know, it’s strange that comic books are filled with all kinds of outlandish characters who have been perfectly translated to the big screen, but the idea of a vampire being presented as a respectable comic book villain still seems too outlandish. Granted, that may have something to do with the fact that the average on-screen vampire these days is more Anne Rice than Bram Stoker. As a relentless killer of man and servant of the night, Morbius certainly falls into the “genuinely scary” vampire camp.
For Morbius to work as a convincing villain, he needs to be played by the kind of veteran actor who knows how to subtly bring a vampire to life (so to speak). Viggo Mortensen’s wide range, gaunt features, and ability to disappear into a role certainly qualifies him as the “dream” choice for Morbius. Fittingly, he also doesn’t seem to age at a normal human rate.
9 Sandman - Demetrius Grosse
You know, for as bad as Spider-Man 3 was, we have to say that we rather enjoyed Thomas Haden Church’s portrayal of Sandman. Sandman could have just been a CG monstrosity that occasionally appeared on-screen in his human form, but Church found that element of humanity that elevates Sandman above the ranks of the average super powered thug and did his best to convey the character’s better qualities whenever he had the chance to do so.
While there’s no getting around that fact that any on-screen adaptation of Sandman is going to include a fair amount of CG, Demetrius Grosse is another actor that we feel is capable of turning Sandman into something more than the sum of his sand-made parts. Grosse has a long history of playing intimidating characters that don’t need much dialog to steal the show. He could do a lot with this role.
8 Elektro - Mackenzie Crook
Elektro is an interesting character, but one that is admittedly hard to properly translate to the big screen. See, there is an old-school simplicity to this baddie which doesn’t always mesh with more thematically complicated modern superhero films. That’s not to say that Elektro is nothing more than a lightning throwing, cackling madman, but that is the core of the character. Still, we have to believe that the right writers could get more out of the character than The Amazing Spider-Man 2 team managed to squeeze out of the concept.
While Jamie Foxx would also probably like to play a more nuanced Elektro, we’re giving the nod to Mackenzie Crook for the sake of variety. Crooks’ wispy looks and creepy nature allows him to play a genuinely terrifying bad guy from time to time. Let the CG team handle the light show and let Crook handle the character’s deeper qualities.
7 Black Cat - Allison Williams
Granted, calling Black Cat a villain requires you to cite some very specific storylines. In the beginning, Black Cat was a pure antagonist for Spidey. She was an expert cat burglar whose work forced her to occasionally combat the friendly neighborhood you-know-who. Over the years, though, Black Cat has shifted more towards a tweener/hero role. Even if the upcoming film adaptation incorporates Cat’s more heroic side, there’s still plenty of room to portray her as a good old-fashioned thief.
Assuming that Black Cat is portrayed in that capacity, we’d love to see Allison Williams’ take on the character. For those who haven’t seen Get Out...well, stop reading this entry right now. The rest of you will know that Williams has the uncanny ability to go from charming to downright evil on a dime. That particular quality may come in handy here.
6 Scorpion - Luke Evans
During the good old days of Spider-Man comics, when J. Jonah Jameson was less of a humorous annoyance and more of a straight-up supervillain, Mr. Jameson decided to give a private investigator he had hired to follow around Spider-Man the powers of a scorpion. Scorpion actually enjoyed a few early victories over the wall-crawler and has been on of Spidey’s more surprisingly consistent enemies over the years. His deadly combination of ability and determination has helped Scorpion inflict some rather painful physical and emotional wounds on young Peter Parker.
We’d be lying if we told you that part of this casting decision isn’t based on Luke Evans’ naturally villainous looks, but there’s plenty to be said about his acting talent as well. Even in movies like Dracula Untold, where Evans has been handed the kind of script destined to fail, he still manages to command an audience's attention. Slap a mechanical tail on him, and you’ve got an instantly badass Scorpion.
5 Kraven the Hunter - Vladimir Kulich
Even if you consider Kraven the Hunter to be a one-note character, there’s no denying that the character's one-note is among the highest in comic book villain history. In "Kraven’s Last Hunt," Kraven kills Spider-Man - or so he thinks - and begins to prove to the world that he can do the web-head’s job better than him. In doing so, he essentially claims total moral victory over Spider-Man. While that was certainly Kraven’s finest hour, the character is typically more interesting than your standard villain.
Jason Momoa is obviously the popular choice for this role, but he’s busy playing Aquaman. Javier Bardem and Benicio Del Toro are two other tempting options, but we’re going to throw Vladimir Kulich’s name into the ring. Kulich’s age and physical build aren’t far off from Kraven’s, and he even has the right accent. Superficial matches aside, Kulich’s work in shows like Vikings proves that he can play this kind of old-world hyper-macho character with scary ease.
4 Green Goblin - Walton Goggins
Whether or not you think Green Goblin is the best Spider-Man villain is a matter of preference, but he’s certainly one of the most important members of the web-slinger's rogues gallery. Green Goblin’s horror movie looks helped him capture the attention of many young comic readers when he first debuted, but over the years, Goblin has become infamous for playing a starring role in some of Peter Parker’s most devastating moments. Whoever plays Green Goblin has to be able to capture his overt evilness without quite going as far over-the-top as Willem Dafoe did. You can only pull that off once.
Well, as the old saying goes, you really can’t go wrong with Walton Goggins. While we’re sure that Mr. Goggins is a very nice man, the fact remains that he is one of the best villain actors working today. As Norman Osborn, Goggins would be able to play a convincingly successful, yet subtly unhinged, business tycoon type who really comes unglued when that mask goes on.
3 Mysterio - Jim Carrey
For quite some time now, fans have wondered when Mysterio is finally going to make his big screen debut as a Spider-Man villain. Mysterio, original name Quentin Beck, worked a stable job in the film industry as a special effects creator and stuntman before he became frustrated with his inability to transition into acting, and decided to become a supervillain instead. While the original take on the character had no actual superpowers, he was able to perform many “man behind the curtain” illusions that led to some very clever villainous scenarios.
Given Mysterio’s fondness for mixing over-the-top scenarios with solid villainy, we believe that Jim Carrey may just be the one man who could do justice to this tricky character. Mysterio is certainly evil, and Carrey can do an evil character well, but what really gets us excited about this possibility is the way that Carrey could turn the more inherently “silly” aspects of Mysterio into something memorable.
2 Doctor Octopus - Jeffrey Wright
Doctor Octopus is one of those comic book characters that managed to overcome his somewhat silly origins and become something truly memorable. Doc Ock’s gimmicky character design is pure comic book golden age material, but recent years have seen Otto Octavius transform into a compelling and downright dangerous foe. Octopus loves to use his genius-level intellect to claim advantages over Spider-Man when possible, but he’s also capable of simply beating the web-slinger to a pulp. He even took over Spidey’s body during a particularly memorable storyline.
Alfred Molina certainly set an impressive precedent for the film portrayal of this character with his work in Spider-Man 2, but we believe that Jeffrey Wright could very well surpass even Molina’s exceptional work. The thing that really stands out to you about Wright’s acting style is his almost eerie ability to calmly relay great evil. That quality is invaluable when one is portraying a character as inherently absurd as Doctor Octopus.
1 Carnage - Ben Foster
Carnage is perhaps most fondly remembered by a generation of Spider-Man fans who grew up on the 1994 Spider-Man animated series and read the infamous Maximum Carnage story that ran in the early ‘90s. While Spider-Man has dealt with some truly terrifying foes over the years, none are as horrifically intimidating as Carnage. Long before he gained superpowers, Cletus Kasady was a pure killer devoid of humanity. In many ways, Carnage feels like something from a much darker comic book world that so happens to occasionally visit Spider-Man’s corner of the universe.
So far as Carnage casting goes, there’s one choice that stands tall above a qualified field of candidates. In films such as Hell or High Water and 3:10 to Yuma, Ben Foster played a pitch-perfect unhinged wild man who displays no shame when enacting his passion for chaos. He even looks the part of Cletus Kasady, and he's more than capable of standing up to Marvel's great web-slinger's, be it Spider-Man or Venom.
What do you think of our casting call? Who do you want to see take on these villainous roles? Let us know in the comments.