Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn served as the main antagonist in 2002’s Spider-Man, but when Chris Cooper’s version of the character was introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, he didn’t get nearly as much screen time as his predecessor. After giving one final "pep talk" to his son Harry, he passed away from his mysterious illness, and Harry became the Green Goblin instead. However, when set pictures of Norman’s frozen head showed up, it hinted the series wasn’t quite done with him, and it turns out there was an epic deleted scene that was definitely meant to set up his return.
Chris Cooper informed Comic Book Resources that he was "guaranteed" a bigger role in The Amazing Spider-Man 3, and the scrapped post-credits scene with Norman’s head (as well as Michael Massee’s mysterious Gentleman) was supposed to show that at least "some" of the sinister businessman was still alive. Cooper elaborated:
Well, we shot the scene -- it's so weird -- but it didn't make it into 'Spider-Man 2.' I’m sure it would probably have been one of the opening scenes in 'Spider-Man 3' if they had gone ahead. But he was coming back. It's very bizarre, what they came up with.
Because this post-credits scene never made it into the final product, moviegoers were left with the impression that Norman had moved on to the great beyond. However, given that Chris Cooper is a reasonably well-known actor, the fact that he only appeared for five minutes in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was reason enough to believe that he would be back. Also, if you looked closely during the movie at the scene where techies are taking apart Norman’s bed, his body is being scanned by a green laser in the background. So the clues were there, but they weren’t made obvious.
In case you’ve never had the bizarre experience of seeing Chris Cooper’s head in a stasis chamber, take a look at the weird moment for yourself.
As many of you know, the original plan for the Amazing Spider-Man series was not only to release a third movie, but also build a Spider-Man cinematic universe with spinoffs like Sinister Six and Venom. Harry Osborn’s comments at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 laid the groundwork for the Sinister Six’s formation, but it sounds like Norman in a Box (the new hit Christmas gift) would have been the main antagonist in the The Amazing Spider-Man 3. Unfortunately for Sony, The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s lukewarm response forced them to reconsider their plans, and by February 2015, the studio reached a deal with Marvel to bring Spidey into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, thus scrapping the Amazing series.
Now we’ll never know what Norman in a Box had planned for Peter Parker in the Amazing Spider-Man universe, but assuming that he eventually got a new body to run around in, one wonders if he would have simply become the new Green Goblin or taken another guise while battling the Web-Slinger. Maybe Marvel would be willing to revisit this continuity in a comic book series in the future so we can get some answers about what was planned. Okay, I really just want to see what Cyborg Norman would have looked like.