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Spiderman 4 – We Know Who the Good Guys Are…

… but who are the bad guys? With Kirsten Dunst confirmed as returning last week, the ‘big three’ (and four, if you count Bruce Campbell’s inevitable cameo) are back on board for the third sequel in what looks to be a very long-lived franchise. Sure, we (along with a lot of people) weren’t too impressed with the third film, but everybody makes mistakes. If only Sam Raimi were willing to admit that, it’d be the first step on the road to recovery. Picking kick-ass villains is widely regarded as the second step. So, we thought we’d give you guys a little cheat-sheet when it comes to the Spidey villains you are likely (and unlikely) to see in the webslinger’s next big screen adventure.

The Sinister Six. Does Exactly What it Says on the Tin.

The Sinister Six. Does Exactly What it Says on the Tin.

Right. I’ll begin by stating what everyone who saw Spiderman 3 can agree: three primary villains is too many. It’s not too many to have if you’re willing to carefully structure them (Batman Begins featured Zsasz, Scarecrow and Ra’s; The Dark Knight featured Scarecrow, Joker and Two-Face); but it may be more than Raimi can handle. I really don’t want three massive iconic villains vying for precious screentime. One villain was more than enough to ground the first two movies in the trilogy. On the other hand, I can’t see him reversing from three to one as easily as he jumped forward. I’d expect to see two promenant rogues in the cast.

The good news is that we can’t be too far away from an announcement on this – the script is almost done and a release date for the film has been set. That, along with cryptic comments from all manner of people involved with the production may help us rule-in or rule-out potential foes, classic and otherwise. We’ll begin with the one that we’re almost guaranteed to see this time around…

Well, at least Dr. Connors had the foresight to put on stretchy pants and lab coats before engaging in his incredibly risky and amoral experiment

Well, at least Dr. Connors had the foresight to put on stretchy pants and lab coats before engaging in his incredibly risky and amoral experiment

The Lizard has been teased over the past too movies and is the closest thing to a sure bet in the world of long-running movie franchise villains. His human alter ego, Dr. Curt Connors, has appeared in the last two films played by Dylan Baker. Unlike most of Spiderman’s other rogues, the Lizard is fairly straightforward in terms of origin: trying to regrow his arm, the intrepid scientist injects a syrum based on Lizard DNA (seriously, who funds these researchers?), which of course has predictable side effects. Of course, this creates the whole ‘wolfman dilemma’, in that Spidey usually has to subdue the viscious creature without killing his beloved biology professor. The creature itself has been shown with varying degrees of intellegence over the years, but can talk, and is – because you’re reading about him in this article – an incredibly viscious killer. And – despite the fact you think that he’d learn from his mistakes – it just keeps happening.

Now the introductions are over, we’d be glad to see this somewhat modest (he’s a talking, rampaging, giant lizard!) villain for two reasons. First, Dylan Baker deserves more work; seriously, the guy is superb and more-or-less obscure. Secondly, this is the type of freak that we believe Sam Raimi could do incredibly well. It’s like a vintage matinee creature. We loved the way that he handled the tentacles in Spiderman 2, and the joy of the series has been bringing that old monster movie formula to big blockbusters. So, this is the one we’d bet on, now for some outside shots for the role of supporting villain.

This dude is called The Scorpion... I bet he stayed up all night thinking of that one...

This dude is called The Scorpion... I bet he stayed up all night thinking of that one...

Ah, sure, we’ll do the zoological-themed villains together. It seems to be a recurring theme among Spiderman’s rogues gallery. And – if it means more villains like Doctor Octopus – we can put up with it. Let’s continue with The Scorpion. Who – in comics, at least – is apparently the new Venom (yep, that sad excuse for a villain in the last film). Anyway, all you really need to know is that the guy was a former Private Investigator hired by J Jonah Jameson (the guy played so well in the films by JK Simmons) to track down Spiderman. Through a series of unfortunate coincidences, he ended up with a tail. That has all manner of uses. He’s more than a little nuts and has the surname McGarnigle.

We reckon he’s unlikely to appear – at least in his supervillain guise. The character has a lot of backstory and would provide a nice excuse to give the ensemble’s standout supporting character (J Jonah Jameson) a chance to shine, but it’d be a rush to fit everything necessary to make him pack a bite (or a stinger) into the first half of a film. We’d love to see him down the line though, because we love comic book villains when they’re looney.

Claws for thought...

Claws for thought...

Then there’s The Wolfman. We mention him for completeness sake, really. There’s no way they’ll do two out-of-control-beasties-rampaging-through-New-York-style monster villains in the same film, but if The Lizard doesn’t show up, he’d also prove a nice way to elevate J Jonah Jameson. The Wolfman is Jameson’s son (who appeared briefly as an astronaut in the second film), and would create a similar emotional struggle for out webslinging hero – can he save the ex-fiance of the woman he loves? Anyway, it’s not going to happen, least of all because there’s a separate movie featuring a horror institution of the same name coming out soon enough (being directed by the guy who is working on another Marvel film).

We're just glad Patrick Stewart was cast as Professor X first...

We're just glad Patrick Stewart was cast as Professor X first...

From something we won’t see to something we really want to see. There aren’t enough badass roles going out there for kick-ass old timers. The Vulture is one of the very few old age pensioners who has villiany on a massive scale as a recreational hobby. The character’s premise is simple – an inventor cheated by his business partner, he now flies through the skies looking for vengeance – but he’s been around a while for a reason. If you cast the right one of Hollywood’s countless talented senior citizens, we reckon you could have a hit on your hands.

Though we’d love to see the old codger (whose real name is Adrian Toomes – spooky!), we don’t see Sony taking the risk with a relatively minor character. Still, there are some interesting plots from the books involving Toomes and Aunt May (she dates his best frient), which would again give us the chance to see a bit more of a stalwart supporting cast member. Plus – if the movies are primarily about Peter Parker, not Spiderman – having an ageing villain could help explore the theme of maturity. Does Peter Parker see himself doing this forever? Can he continue to be Spiderman into his old age? Would he want to, if he just ends up like this hallow old man?

You kinda have to wonder... where do these guys get their costumes?

You kinda have to wonder... where do these guys get their costumes?

Uggh… The Rhino. Dude hits things. Really hard. With his head. He’s not particularly bright, and there’ll already likely be a musclebound villain in the next film (even if there isn’t, there are much better options). The character works better as part of an ensemble. If he has to be there, given him a small role.

Not... Trashy... At All

Not... Trashy... At All

Then there’s The Black Cat. Not really a villain per se, she bares more than a passing resemblence to a femme feline fatale that crosses paths with another masked avenger, but the less said the better.  On the plus side, the inclusion of this ambiguous cat burglar (geddit?) wouldn’t necessarily overcrowd the film (as she’s not really a foe). On the minus side, she’d need to be really well written. Really well written.

We can see the producers going for another female in the cast – though they might hesitate when they consider how Bryce Dallas Howard’s Gwen Stacy was one of the worst additions to the cast of the last film. There’s no reason to believe that the whole ‘Spiderman is tempted by another woman’ vibe could be done any better this time around. On the other hand, if handled well (she’s a temptation for Spiderman, not Peter Parker) – there’s no reason it couldn’t work. Still, women in tight black catsuits might be overdone by the time the film comes out – with Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow in Iron Man 2 and rumours about Catwoman in the next Batman film.

Who are we kidding? Women in tight black cat suits can never be overdone.

Is it just me or are his pants so eighties?

Is it just me or are his pants so eighties?

Before we leave the animal kingom entirely, there’s Kraven the Hunter. A fan favourite, his premise is pretty much there in the title. He hunts stuff. And usually kills it. It would be interesting to have a purely human opponent of Spiderman, and also to have one that hasn’t necessarily taken up being a supervillain overnight (he could have been hunting around the globe before arriving in New York). The character has a fairly sizeable fanbase amongst the followers (both casual and serious) of the comic book series, and there are likely several of them among the production staff.

We can see him fitting fairly easily into a narrative involving any of the above rogues (particularly The Lizard, the most likely candidate), or even just showing up to hunt Spidey. We’d almost say he’s a lock, except for cryptic comments that the villain they have in mind for the next film is explicitly a New York villain. Still, we reckon he’ll make an appearance sooner rather than later, and we’d be happy for it.

He's either a vampire or a Kiss fan...

He's either a vampire or a Kiss fan...

Okay, let’s do fictional creatures. Since he’s been all but officially ruled out, this is really just for fun. How awesome would it be to see master of horror Sam Raimi direct Morbius (whose title includes ‘The Living Vampire’, lest he be mistaken for Morbius, The Dead Vampire)? Not least of which since Raimi himself has a fondness for the character. Morbius is the result of one of those ‘medical experiments/cures gone horribly wrong’ that seem to happen so frequently in Spiderman’s New York. Anyway, while curing himself of his rare blood disease, the character happened to give himself an insatiable thirst for human blood. Still, trust Stan Lee to put a twist on a classic concept. Because the Comics Code wouldn’t allow them to show biting, Morbius sucks the blood out his victims through his hands. I kid you not. They’ve got like little sucker things.

We’d love to see Spidey fight a vampire. It could be part of a ‘science goes amok’ theme with The Lizard. I reckon that you may see the character further down the line if Raimi stays involved with the franchise (which i really would like to see – it would be great for a franchise to have a guiding hand for an extended period of time, but that’s another discussion). There’s really no case you can make for Morbius other than he’s cool, but isn’t that enough?

"Damn it, my dome's fogged up!"

"Damn it, my dome's fogged up!"

There are worse alternatives than Mysterio. The character gets a lot of flack – most of it fair – because of his style of outfits (dome head?) and his over-reliance on gimmicks (his special effects could likely have made him millions instead of leading him to get his ass continuously kicked by a smart-mouthed teenager).  Basically a Hollywood hack (which rules him out in theory, based on the New Yorker suggestion) who is tired of a dead-end special effects job, he turns to a life of crime. Villains that mess with heroes heads are always fun, but we really doubt that Mysterio could carry a whole movie by himself without some sort of massive overhaul. And there really are so many better choices out there.

Plus, he has a stupid dome head.

I'm blue, daboo-dee-daboo-dii, a daboo-dee, dabbo-dii...

I'm blue, daboo-dee-daboo-dii, a daboo-dee, dabbo-dii...

Meh. Hydroman is just a little too similar in concept to Sandman to take our interest. Thomas Hayden Church couldn’t sell us that sweet little sob story about an honest fugitive and his dying daughter, so what chance does this same-story-different-element have? The origins (knocked into element; amoral and dodgy experiment executed; granted power over said element) are identical, and nobody going to the cinema really wants to be reminded of Spiderman 3 so soon.

Okay, maybe Kingpin can look a bit creepy...

Okay, maybe Kingpin can look a bit creepy...

I think Kingpin would be great. Another one of those adversaries who doesn’t really have a superpower, the character is a badass mob boss who has crossed paths with all manner of New-York-based superheroes (including Daredevil). Therein lies the rub, though. Kingpin has already been featured as a character (played by Michael Clarke Duncan) in the so-so Daredevil adaptation. Regardless of the rights issues that may prevent him from appearing, there’s also the fact that Kingpin might not gel so well with Raimi’s Spiderman universe. It’s full of freakish monsters and primary colours, while Kingpin is a fat man in a white coat.

It is a shame though, because his talent for behind-the-scenes manipulations would make an excellent counterpoint to the relatively bright proceedings that have come before – particularly since Spiderman 3 showed the series wanted to do dark (even if it wasn’t able to). Plus he’d balance a ‘brute force’ villain quite well. Still, we’re not sure his careful plots and double-bluffs would be quite what your summer movie-goer would expect from Spiderman, so we don’t think you’ll be seeing him anytime soon. Still, he is the most obviously New-York-based of Spiderman’s foes.

It's Spiderman on acid...

It's Spiderman on acid...

Okay, I’ll admit it. I was psyched when I heard that Venom would be the villain in Spiderman 3. I’ll also admit that I was wrong. The character – intended as a dark, twisted reflection of Spiderman – was not only handled poorly, but was squished aside relatively quickly in a plot featuring three big villains. The creature got maybe ten minutes of development between splitting from Peter Parker and confronting him again. I would argue that it would be possible to a villain like that well, if the producers, writers and directors learnt from their mistakes. Carnage is the psychotic off-spring of the Venom symbiont that formed the basis of the third movie. Except, instead of landing on mild-mannered if fraudulant reporter Eddie Brock, this ended up on an insane serial killer.

The creature is a rampaging, distorted monster. It kills remorselessly. It is an anaimal and a beast. It is almost like a creature exiled from the Evil Dead. It is a demon escaped from hell. Those are the reasons we would not give up were it announced as a villain in the next film. However, we won’t hold our breath. Raimi didn’t like Venom – so we doubt he’d embrace this evil(ler) twin. We also think that a little bit of freshness after the last film might be a good idea. Just might.

"This is so awkward! We both have the same superpower!"

"This is so awkward! We both have the same superpower!"

Alright, we’re playing the odds here. Spiderman has not one, but two villains with the whole ‘electricity-superpower’ thing going on here. We reckon that we’re bound to see one of them at some point, right? Shocker (the dude in yellow on the left) is a New York native, who invented some nifty hand blasters that fire electrical charges. We like the guy, but we have to admit that that sounds a little banal for Sam Raimi, given his love of monsters and mutants and freaks.

Electro, on the other hand, is a human battery. Due to a freak accident (like just about every villain in Raimi’s series who isn’t victim of an experiment gone wrong), he can store a freakishly large amount of electricity in his body and release it on cue. We think there are some great visual opportunities in there (though you may need to tone down the costume a bit), and we could see the character appealling to the crew behind the Spiderman films. We reckon he’s the more likely of the two to appear.

The Sinister Twelve... Twice as badass as the team you saw above...

The Sinister Twelve... Twice as badass as the team you saw above...

As you can see, there are an astonishing amount of interesting villains to play with. Everyone has their favourites, but we’re sure that a killer story could be crafted using any of the above characters. We hope that the production team have learnt about the dangers of excess from their last effort, but we’re already looking forward to this film.

I would love to see the franchise get to the stage where it could offer a classic style team-up of Spiderman villains, but for the moment I’d settle for a slow approach that takes the time to get each character involved in the plot right.

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