Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures’ co-production of SPIDER-MAN: THE REBOOT 2 has a lot to live up to. With Kevin Feige’s name attached, expectations are sky high. Fanboys are looking to Feige to rescue the filmic iteration of Marvel Comics’ most beloved character. This can’t and won’t be an easy task.
First thing to do is hire the right creative team. The recently revealed director shortlist is a positive step forward. And with Asa Butterfield and Tom Holland as the frontrunners to play the webhead, the state of SPIDER-MAN seems to be on an upswing.
What’s left to consider? What’s going to differentiate this new series from what’s come before?
SPIDER-MAN 3 proved that audiences are tired of multiple villains being crammed into one movie. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN proved that audiences are tired of unconvincing CG-pixel-beasts running amok. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 proved that audiences are really tired of the Norman Osborn/Harry Osborn/Green Goblin dynamic.
Let’s get some fresh (bad) blood in Spidey’s rogues gallery!
Start by giving the audience time away from the obvious villain choices: Doc Ock, Sandman, Scorpion, Venom, Carnage, Vulture, Rhino, Lizard, Electro. Be gone! The movies don’t need them. At least not right away. If Marvel Studios has proven anything the past decade, it’s that “B-team” characters can be just as successful and well-loved as any top-tier character.
Here are five “B-team” villains primed to invigorate the new SPIDER-MAN franchise:
Dmitri Smerdyakov. Soviet Spy and a master of disguise.
He’s a formidable foe in that Spidey/Peter would become entangled in high levels of paranoia, never quite knowing who to trust in life because they just might be the Chameleon in hiding. Dmitri would make a great villain for the new movie because Chameleon is actually Spider-Man’s very first villain, appearing in 1963’s Amazing Spider-Man #1. And if the filmmakers wanted to put a new spin on the character, they could age him down — perhaps making Dmitri a Russian foreign-exchange student at Peter’s high school.
KRAVEN THE HUNTER
Sergei Kravinoff. Big game hunter with a major bloodlust.
He looks silly — like a feral hobo straight out of Jumanji — but don’t underestimate the man. Kraven’s a serious killer with a penchant for ending lives with his bare hands. Imagine him hunting Spider-Man in the night, dodging in and out of alleyways, trekking through the concrete jungle of Manhattan for prey. And he just so happens to be Chameleon’s half-brother. There’s a lot of potential with Kraven the Hunter, someone truly nasty and ruthless for poor little Pete to contend with.
MORBIUS: THE LIVING VAMPIRE
Dr. Michael Morbius. Scientist-with-a-blood-disease turned vampire.
He’s a tragic figure, a victim of circumstance. In trying to cure himself of his disease, he accidentally turns himself into a “living vampire.” To survive he must suck other people’s blood, even though he doesn’t want to. But he does get extra perks: super strength and increased speed. Dr. Morbius could serve as a mentor to Peter; a mentor who, y’know, tries to kill him every once in a while. Introducing Morbius in a Spider-Man movie would be a cool way to kickstart Marvel TV’s BLADE. (Morbius and Blade are enemies in the comics).
Felicia Hardy. Acrobatic cat burglar.
Her character already popped up in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (played by Felicity Jones) but who cares? That wasn’t REALLY Black Cat. Black Cat isn’t some background dayplayer assistant chick. Black Cat is a vivacious, headstrong badass who regularly goes toe-to-toe with Spider-Man. They’re friends and lovers and enemies all at once. Felicia Hardy is a great supporting character and an even better villain for the webslinger. It’s time for a Marvel movie to finally have a serious female baddie.
Quentin Beck. Special effects wizard and master of illusion. A.K.A. Guy With The Domed Head.
Of all the villains listed here, Mysterio is definitely the most cinematic. He basically uses magic tricks to commit crimes. POOF-WOOF-TAH-DAH! Crime committed. Easy to execute on film with today’s visual effect capabilities. And let’s be honest here — Mysterio just looks cool. Like something out of a 50’s B sci-fi movie. I can just imagine Peter first meeting Quentin Beck at a school carnival, where “Mysterio’s Tent of Illusions” is set up. Peter realizes Quentin is using the magic tent to steal patrons’ wallets. Peter dons the Spidey suit, confronts Mysterio, and then… crazy superhero-supervillain antics ensue.
A soft-spoken, cold-blooded, mob-bossin’ Vincent D’Onofrio going up against a fifteen-year-old science nerd? It sounds tonally inconsistent yet… how awesome would that be? Yes, the Netflix DAREDEVIL show is grim and violent and not-so-family-friendly. But that doesn’t mean, should Kingpin show up in a SPIDER-MAN movie, that we need to see Wilson Fisk door-slamming a guy’s face apart in front of a horrified Peter Parker. Kingpin’s got the clout — he’ll order his cronies to do that kinda morbid stuff OFF-SCREEN.