While we wait on Spider-Man casting news for Captain America: Civil War and the standalone Spidey film set to hit theaters in 2017, lets examine an overlooked ramification of this deal – the ability for Marvel Studios to use Spider-Man’s many and awesome villains.
Green Goblin. Doctor Octopus. Venom. Mysterio. Electro. Morbius. Shocker. Rhino. You can’t have a Spider-Man film without Spider-Man villains. Not exactly an earth-shattering revleation but the Marvel fandom is currently fixed on the hero when it needs to be thinking about the villains. Marvel Studios knows this, which is why they’re working incredibly fast to lay the groundwork for Spider-Man’s chief antagonist, the Green Goblin (Oscorp is set to be introduced in Ant-Man). But don’t get me wrong. As the most popular Marvel superhero in the world, strategically, securing Spider-Man is a huge coup for Marvel Studios even though Sony will still reap the lion’s share of any film profits . When Marvel Studios rolls out the marketing campaign for Captain America: Civil War, don’t be surprised if Spider-Man is the focal point of the marketing. But while we’re all presently captivated by the Spider-Man casting process, perhaps we should be thinking about Marvel’s long term plans? And by long term, I mean about what the ability to use Spider-Man truly does for Marvel. It’s my belief that the ability to use Spider-Man’s foes will drastically increase Marvel’s storytelling possibilities though the ability to use Spider-Man’s villains.
As the Joker to Spider-Man’s Batman, it’s inevitable that Spider-Man will tackle Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin for a third time. Primarily a Spider-Man villain for decades, more recently, Norman Osborn became a much larger villain in Marvel Comics thanks to storylines such as the the Thunderbolts, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign and Seige. Kevin Feige has previously stated that the entire Marvel Cinematic Univserse has been mapped out all the way until 2028 and that the Marvel Studious Creative Committee developed one track of development that included Spider-Man and one that did not (in case the deal with Sony fell through). After Avengers: Infinity War wraps up in 2019, where will the Avengers franchise head next? How do you top the Mad Titan Thanos and a threat to the entire galaxy? One route to take would be to not even try and go smaller and more interpersonal. This approach has already worked well for the Russo Bros. with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Should the Russo’s stay on after Civil War and Inifnity War, I’d love to see what they could do with a story like Dark Reign. It’s very plausible that’s the fallout from the first solo Spider-Man film, Civil War and Infinity War is Osborn’s rise to power and influence within the American government and World Council. The fallout from Winter Solider definitely left a number of open seats on the Council.
Throughout the comics, cartoons and video games, Kingpin has been shown to employ and help create a number of C-list Spider-Man foes – including Scorpion, Tombstone, Rhino, Hobgoblin and numerous others. As we await to see what the future holds for Kingpin in Daredevil season two, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where he embarks on a quest to return to power and gathers a number of such henchmen. Other characters such as Prowler, Shocker and Molten-Man would work well on other Netflix shows such as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.
In Marvel Comics, there’s no bigger news publication than the Daily Bugle. And while Daily Bugle Editor-in-Chief J. Jonah Jameson is not a supervillain per se, a case can be made that he’s had more success harming Spider-Man than some of his most dangerous foes. However, The Bugle plays a bigger role in Marvel Comics besides publishing anti- Spider-Man propaganda. It was a key supporter of the Super Human Registration Act and often publishes anti-superhero material in general. The MCU has always strived to depict the public relationship The Avengers have with the media and the general populace. That’s a theme that “should” be heavily explored in Civil War. When the public is asked to decide “Who’s Side Are You On?”, who better to pose the question than Jameson and The Bugle?
There are a number of different directions Marvel can take Spider-Man that would please fans but they would be remiss to ignore his rogue’s gallery. Often considered second to only Batman’s, Marvel Studios has a prime opportunity to explore the plethora of Spider-Man’s villains and introduce audiences to characters such as Vulture, Chameleon and Mysterio.