Through the five solo Spider-Man films released to date, the Web Head has done battle against a great many opponents, including the Green Goblin, Doc Ock, the Lizard, and Electro (just to name a few). The character's rogues gallery is so deep with a plethora of options available, Sony has once or twice fallen victim to the trap of including too many villains in the movies. But even though plenty of them have been showcased on the big screen, there are several waiting in the wings to get a shot at Hollywood stardom. For Spider-Man: Homecoming, director Jon Watts is giving fans the first live-action iteration of Vulture, who will be played by Michael Keaton.
Using a baddie that had never been seen before in a Spider-Man movie came as a great relief to viewers, some of whom feared the creative team would return to a familiar well. It's all part of the initiative to make Homecoming feel like a far different Spider-Man film from the ones that have come before - which can also be evidenced through the high school setting and the fact Peter Parker is only 15-years old. As tempting as it might have been to use recognizable names like Norman Osborne or Otto Octavius again, the filmmakers wanted everything to feel fresh.
In August 2016, Screen Rant had an opportunity to visit the Homecoming set in Atlanta, and spoke with producer Amy Pascal. One of the topics of conversation was the possibility that some villains could be reused down the line:
"Well, here's the thing: we've recycled a lot. Um, I think there are certain characters I don't think there's anything more to say about them right this minute? And also, you're not doing a story on this, but we're also doing this animated movie, and that has a lot of characters in it, too. Very different, because it's animated. But I think we have to try to be really fresh with it. I mean, I don't know how many more times we can do - at least for now - I don't know how many more times we can do the Green Goblin. I've certainly tried to do it fifty."
Longtime viewers know about Sony's fascination with the Goblin all too well, as the character factored heavily into both Sam Raimi's original trilogy and Marc Webb's reboot. It's nice to see that the studio is aware of the fact that there are only so many ways to tell the same story and looked to take the property down a different route for Homecoming. The Vulture could potentially be one of the more interesting villains in the MCU to date, given he's been described as a dark version of Tony Stark and meant to explore a little seen corner of the franchise as a whole. It would have been a wasted opportunity if someone from the previous films was brought back, especially since there is no shortage of intriguing adversaries for Spider-Man to fight. Even the secondary villains in Homecoming, like Shocker, are making their cinematic debuts.
A telling part of Pascal's comments is "at least for now," meaning the door is ajar for one of the Homecoming sequels to recycle - as long as it makes sense for the story. Figures like the Goblin and Doc Ock were quite prevalent in the source material, so an argument can be made it would be difficult to make it through an entire Spider-Man film series without seeing at least one of them return. After all, the Joker has been featured time and time again in the various DC franchises. Some of these characters are too strong to completely lock in the vault.