Monday, 4 February 2013

Some Thoughts on Paul Giamatti and Felicity Jones' Casting in "The Amazing Spider-Man" Sequel


Last week, some big casting news was announced regarding the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man. Paul Giamatti is in talks to play one of Spider-Man's villains, the Rhino. For those who don't know the Rhino, here's a brief summary via The Hollywood Reporter:

"The Rhino first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #41 in 1966 as a thug from a Soviet Block country who wore a superhuman suit that made him invulnerable while giving him super-strength and super-speed. It also had a deadly horn
on top. In more recent comics, he became a sympathetic figure who found himself allying with Spider-Man."

What's fascinating about the inclusion of the Rhino in the film is certainly the casting of Giamatti, not a psychically intimidating actor. With Giamatti in the role, the film will probably emphasize the suit's ability to give him super strength, providing a contrast between the ordinary man Giamatti starts out as and the unstoppable force he becomes.

Giamatti will be joining Jamie Foxx as Electro, another of Spider-Man's rogues gallery. With two villains, along with the inclusion of Dan DeHaan as Harry Osborn and Shailene Woodley as Mary Jane Watson, as well as Felicity Jones in talks for an undisclosed role, it's starting to feel that the film may be juggling too many balls. And the idea of a Spider-Man film cramming in too many characters and subplots brings to mind Spider-Man 3, which suffered from not being able to weave its multiple plotlines together coherently. Now, I'm not trying to be an alarmist- it's just that I felt The Amazing Spider-Man script didn't quite flow narratively or click together thematically as well as it should have. I hope the script for the next film is tighter and works really well as a stand alone film.

For one thing, it's important to know how to use your villains. One needs to be the central villain, which I presume will be Electro. It's apparent that Harry's father, Norman Osborn, is the one pulling the strings in this new franchise, so it's important to keep that villain structure in mind while still having Electro be a fully developed character rather than just a henchman. Foxx has talked about Electro's origins, saying at the beginning of the film that Max Dillon, Electro's real name, will be a Spider-Man fan:

"You'll see that in his whole life, no one is talking to him. People have stolen his ideas at the big company. He's a nobody. At a certain point, Spider-Man bumps into him and says, 'You're my guy. You're my eyes and ears on the street.' And he says his name - no one has ever said [Max] Dillon's name. He goes, 'Wow' and, when Spider-Man leaves, he sort of thinks that, 'I am Spider-Man's partner!' He's cutting out Spider-Man's face and pasting it on all his boards..."

Could Rhino be an established villain at the beginning of the film, with Electro getting the main villain origin? Possibly, especially since, judging from Foxx's comments, Max will have an emotional connection to Spider-Man that will put his orgin front and centre. Then again, if Rhino has any connection to Oscorp and Curt Connor's cross species genetics work, we could definitely be seeing an origin on screen for him as well. Will there be a team up between Electro and Rhino?- if director Marc Webb is leading up his version of the Sinister Six, then a relationship between Electro and Rhino could be planting the seeds for a future installment also featuring the return of Curt Connors/the Lizard. Critic Sean O'Connell recently wrote an article about the possible universe Marc Webb is mapping out:  While I have disagreed with O'Connell regarding certain aspects of The Amazing Spider-Man, his article is definitely worth checking out.

So, who will Felicity Jones play? People are throwing around two big names-Felicia Hardy, aka the Black Cat, the Marvel Universe's version of Catwoman and Betty Brant, who in the comics works at the Daily Bugle. While I kind of love the idea of Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man interacting with Black Cat, I wonder if Black Cat fits in with what this franchise is doing right now. It may also be a little too soon after The Dark Knight Rises and Anne Hathaway's performace as Catwoman to bring in another cat burglar character. And finally, the romantic dynamic of this new film already seems to be set up as a love triangle involving Peter Parker, Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy and Shailene Woodley's Mary Jane. Felicia/Black Cat was one of Peter' romantic interests in the comics, so the filmmakers may want to avoid putting in another possible love interest. This isn't to say that Felicia is only defined by a romantic relationship with a man.

I'm leaning a little towards Betty Brant. The Daily Bugle will probably feature in some compacity in the next film, which would lead to Betty having a role. Elizabeth Banks played Betty in Sam Raimi's trilogy and the character may have a larger role in this film. In the comics, Betty was actually Peter's first love, even before Gwen. It wasn't essential to Raimi's trilogy and it may not be of importance in this trilogy, since as I mentioned earlier, the romantic triangle centres around Peter, Gwen, and Mary Jane. And like Felicia, Betty doesn't need to be defined by a romantic relationship with Peter.

So, those are pretty much my thoughts as of now. Despite my issues with the first film, I'm very intrigued by what direction this sequel, and franchise, is going.

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