Who will be the villain in the new Spider-Man film? Judging by the just-announced casting of Welsh actor Rhys Ifans, a good guess is Kraven the Hunter (in the redux version where he is the star of a reality show and chases down young Spidey in pursuit of ratings), the special-effects-wizard-turned-villain Mysterio or perhaps the Lizard, the slithering laboratory monster who was once a hard-luck scientist. Or, wait, maybe it’s Electro, the dastardly dynamo …
Or maybe it’s none of them. We know it won’t be the Kingpin (unless he got the Lap-Band surgery), Justin Hammer (unless new director Mark Webb and Sony are bold enough to overlap with the Iron Man mythology by rival Marvel Studios) or the Rhino (unless the hard-hided juggernaut is downsized and renamed the Armadillo).
Sony announced Monday that the art-house veteran of “The Shipping News,” “Vanity Fair” and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” will play the as-yet-unnamed villain and all we can do is speculate. He’s a bit young to play the Vulture and, really, will Sony sign off on using the Green Goblin again after so much on-screen time in the original version of the franchise? They just might, though, considering the announcement of Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Anyone who knows the publishing history of that character knows that the Goblin is forever linked to her fate and fame.
I’m betting on Kraven, only because the Brian Michael Bendis version of the imperious character — as an Aussie, gun-toting version of Simon Cowell who travels to New York to hunt the hero — just feels right for a franchise reboot that wants to be very much of the moment culturally and also trying to separate itself from the super-science bad guys of the Sam Raimi trilogy which, at its heart, remained deeply devoted to the spirit of the 1960s and 1970s comics despite the CG budget. With “The Social Network” seizing the imagination of moviegoers and antiheroes in ”Kick-Ass“ and “Wanted” co-opting the lovable-loser origins of Peter Parker, why not throw in a dash of TV’s “Survivor” or the bookshelf’s ”The Hunger Games” to freshen up a title character that, after all, dates back to the Kennedy administration?
That said: Gee, when I look at that photo of Ifan in sunglasses, he’d make a great Mysterio …
Webb’s only offered insight into the casting: “What sets the Spider-Man villains apart is the complexity of their relationships with Peter Parker. Rhys’ incredible ability to embody both warmth and rage makes him the ideal choice for this character.” Hmm. Ifans, by the way, will also be seen soon in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One“ in the role of Xenophilius Lovegood.
– Geoff Boucher
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