By Detektor 5 Comments
I think most of us were underwhelmed by the announcement of the Lizard as primary antagonist. A scientist's invention goes horribly wrong and he becomes an insane supervillain - except without awesome shades and tentacles. Furthermore, his monstrous doesn't exactly offer the new Spider-Man a chance to engage in witty banter. The problem of rebooting the franchise came down to the fact that Spider-Man is primarily associated with three villains, Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and Venom. Sensibly, the original trilogy focused on those three, plus the reasonably well-known Sandman. So the problem for Sony was whether to retread Sam Raimi's rational villain choices or go with some of Spidey's less-known foes. As far as the first movie goes, they did the latter.
Kingpin's already known as Daredevil's nemesis, Jackal necessitates the clone saga, Hobgoblin doesn't make sense without an original goblin, Hammerhead and Chameleon couldn't hold up an action movie, Morlun pulls in the supernatural, and Rhino is generally kinda lame. Carnage follows on the footsteps of Venom. That left Lizard, Electro, Vulture, Mysterio and Kraven. While he's the only one that can typically fly, Vulture tends towards the campy end of the scale. Same with Mysterio, unless radically redesigned. Kraven would be a great villain in a sequel, but his storyline probably wouldn't fit alongside an origin story. I'd personally pick Electro over Lizard, but i can respect the emotional impact a mentor gone nuts could provide our new hero.
But speaking of father figures, the use of a lesser villain to start the new series begs the question of where Norman Osborn is. While Doc Ock isn't exactly essential to the Spider-Man mythology and Venom's rise is fairly recent in comic-book years, the early death of Gwen Stacy at the hands of the Green Goblin is easily Spider-Man's most iconic moment and a fundamental building block for his character. Now, if they're taking the reboot back to high school as planned, Harry Osborn pretty much needs to be in the movie. Norman requires at least a cameo for this reason. And most interestingly, Gwen Stacy is now going to be in the first film as well as MJ. While the obligatory love triangle (square?) comes to mind, the second implication is that Norman Osborn and Gwen Stacy are likely both going to be in Peter's life simultaneously.
Now, if the writers are brilliant, here's what I'm thinking. Use the Lizard as a throwaway villain for the first movie, because an extensive backstory would clash with the origin of the hero. Use Electro or hopefully Kraven for the second movie, while further developing Harry, Norman and Gwen as characters. And once they've all got a significant amount of screen time behind them, bring the Green Goblin back for the third (numbers are approximate, of course) movie, to close the series with an epic and much more personal-feeling climax on the George Washington Bridge. (True, they tried that with MJ in the first Raimi film, but all of his villains kidnapped and threatened MJ at some point.) They can use the actual green-and-purple goblin-accessories to differentiate the character designs, probably with chainmail or something of the kind under the latex.
Not that Willem Defoe wasn't a great villain, but how much more satisfying and heartbreaking would it be for the filmmakers to carefully set up the dominoes as described above? Rather than jumping straight into Norman Osborn as a villain, using him as a surrogate father figure for the first couple films would result in an immense payoff when it finally came time to make the transformation. And instead of a speedbump in Peter and MJ's budding relationship as in the first series, the bridge scene could actually result in the death of a girl we've come to know and love for years - because, as in the comics, Peter already has MJ to become his next love interest. It would be magnificent.
The Lizard I'm ambivalent on, but if the pieces keep coming together as I suspect they will, we could be in for a hell of a ride.