One reason I’m really starting to believe in this long-range line of universe-building for the suddenly revitalized Spider-Man universe is because one name I thought crucial to the casting of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has not been announced … and I’m starting to think he won’t be added at all just yet. That would be Norman Osborn, the ailing head of Oscorp who needed Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) to complete his research into cross-species genetics – which will be very important later – in order to survive an unspecified illness.
With Stone playing Peter Parker’s tragic love interest Gwen Stacy in Webb’s original, many (myself included) assumed we’d get The Green Goblin in the second Spider-Man, leading to Gwen’s death … possibly at the end of the second film. Can you think of a more dour, down-beat, Empire Strikes Back-mirroring ending than Peter having to cope with the death of his true love in ASM2? Woodley’s casting as Mary Jane seemed to cement the idea that the franchise was going in that direction.
Only, it’s hard to do the Green Goblin story if you haven’t cast Norman Osborn.
Instead, Webb is bringing in Electro. And the Rhino. And possibly Black Cat (if that’s who Jones ends up playing - though others have suggested she could end up playing Betty Brant). Plus, Ifans survived Webb’s final cut of The Amazing Spider-Man, meaning that the Lizard is still a possible villain for a future movie.
You know, in case Webb wants to eventually bring The Sinister Six to the big screen.
This is the kind of big-box, long-range thinking studios need to be doing with their franchise properties. No longer can (or should) a studio like Marvel or Sony be wondering how to best squeeze a trilogy out of a particular storyline. Screw that. Think bigger. The Avengers proved that you can, if you take the time to lay the foundation, cast properly, and spread your storyline out. I think that’s what Webb is doing with this immediate sequel. I think he’s being given the chance to plan for a few additional chapters. He’s bringing in actors who can play important characters for multiple films, much like Samuel L. Jackson in the Nick Fury role or even someone as prominent as Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. Lock the people up. Spread out how you use them over time.