I’ll say this for Marc Webb: he’s got good taste in casting.
Chris Cooper is now onboard to play Norman Osborn in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which means he could well be menacing Peter Parker right there alongside Electro (Jamie Foxx) and The Rhino (Paul Giamatti).
That’s a lot of characters to juggle for a blockbuster which is also introducing Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and Mary Jane Watson (Shailene Woodley) into the series. We still have no idea if The Daily Bugle and J. Jonah Jameson are going to be brought into Webb’s series any time soon, and we also don’t know exactly how these new characters are going to be used.
Osborn was kept off-screen in Webb’s first film. We heard mention of him, but he quite literally stayed in the shadows. It was obvious that they were building to a reveal, and having someone like Cooper play the part pays off that tease. The question now is which version of Osborn we’ll be seeing in the film. Is he going to already be deeply involved in the research that transformed him into the Green Goblin? Or is he going to try to reverse engineer the accident that gave Peter his spider powers and is that what’s going to push him over the edge?
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Osborn handled as largely benevolent in this film, setting him up to play the villain in one of the future films. He is certainly the lynchpin to all things evil in Webb’s version of “Spider-Man.” The game that was released as a sort of sequel to the first film took place in and around Oscorp, where it appeared they were making more creatures along the lines of the first movie’s Lizard, human/animal hybrids with monstrous powers. If they stick with that idea in the movies (and obviously I know they’re not obligated to take anything in the games as sacred, even if the game was orchestrated with the filmmakers in the first place), then I’m really curious to see Giamatti as The Rhino.
Osborn in general is obsessed with the use of science to transform humanity into something else, whether it happens to Peter or Otto Octavius or the poor bastards he experiments on or even himself. His connection to Peter seems to get more and more explicit with each reworking of the basic Spider-Man mythology, and my guess is we’ll learn quite a bit in the second film about how Osborn was related to the work of Richard Parker, Peter’s father, and it wouldn’t shock me to learn that Norman had a hand in the end of Richard Parker’s life.
I was frustrated by the first film, but enough of the movie worked for me that I want the sequel to be great. I want this to be a better piece of storytelling using the elements that were already largely in place. I want Webb and the small army of screenwriters who have had their hands on the material to build their own world here. It’s almost the opposite of the larger Marvel Universe that Disney/Marvel is building. Here, I’d like to see them just focus on telling the story about how Peter goes from that accident and the loss that defines his early life to being the one person holding back a tidal wave of lunatic villainy, willing to sacrifice anything to do what is right. I’ve always thought Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s perfect creations, and the excitement that I still see in fans over every new bit of information about the new film is a real testament to what a firm grip the character has on his place in pop culture.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” opens in a zillion theaters on May 2, 2014.