Dominic Mah is a writer, director, rock musical aficionado, and ex-professional gambler. He is launching a new web series soon at paranormalstatus and also tweets nerdcore film critiques at @ThorHulkCritic. His personal heroes are Stan Lee, Bruce Lee, Annabel Lee and Barbara Lee.
If you are a Spiderman fan as I am, possibly you are also thrilled that the reboot (if the abundant trailers are to be believed) has rediscovered the web-swinger’s best character trait: relentless sarcastic one-liners. I don’t really give a hoot about this costume or that costume, organic webs or web shooters, if Spiderman is funny and snarky, as he’s supposed to be, I will think it to be a good and truthful Spiderman movie.
The other big Spider-Problem, unless you are a lizard fetishist, is with the rogues’ gallery. Spiderman’s enemies are, um, all very goofy. Spidey’s villains lack the juicy insanity of the Joker, the elegance of Lex Luthor, the sexy evil of the Hellfire Club. Mainly they’re half-crazy scientists with gadgets who alternate between saying “And with this I will take over the world!” and “Curse you, Spiderman!” As on a bad date, in his battles Spiderman generally pads the conversations with witticisms just to keep himself interested.
Every now and then in the comics, six of Spidey’s biggest nemeses get together and call themselves the Sinister Six. This not only provides excuse for a massive battle, but helps compensate for the villains’ relative lack of individual personalities. The S6 is also the subject of a rather epic Adam Warrock song, which you can listen to here. I like to think that the reboot’s re-angling towards clever repartee will offer an opportunity to cast some actors who, while standing next to their World-Ending Isonuclear Mind Bomb Device will also be able to crack a joke or two. Here are my suggestions:
Although Kraven the Hunter is Spiderman’s stupidest comic-book villain, he could potentially be his greatest cinematic villain. Kraven is a Russian guy who takes a magic potion to give him the strength of a lion, presumably the one whose head he wears on his snappy non-PETA-approved fur vest. He also likes hunting things with knives, but perhaps due to his ancestry, has always been fatally incapable of getting any of Spiderman’s jokes. Russell Brand, besides having appropriate facial hair, could match Spiderman (played by fellow Brit Andrew Garfield) quip for quip. Ideally, in a ridiculous pseudo-Russian accent.
Although not a charter member of the Six, the Rhino was on the most recent version of the team, and frankly he’s a lot more imposing than the Vulture (an old guy who flies on mechanical birdy wings). The Rhino has the thankless duty of being “the strong guy,” and conventionally would be cast as such, but methinks a clever young lad like Mr. Hill could bring a lot to the role of a guy who has been surgically enhanced by horns and rhinoceros skin. Also, as Ken Jeong once said, it’s funny because he’s fat. And even better, he knows Russell from the Greek movie. It’s the Hunter and the Rhino. They can have a whole bromantic bit about hunting each other, which should probably include a reference to rhino milk. Which exists, yes it does.
ELECTRO – Will.i.am
Although not by trade a comic actor, the Black Eyed Peas singer does not shy away from the ridiculous outfits, and he knows his way around electro-house remixes, if not Electro-World-Domination-Schemes. And anyway, just look at this guy and tell me he doesn’t want to play a supervillain who can generate lightning bolts from his head.
Alternates: MC Frontalot, Patrick Stewart, Terry O’Quinn, Jason Statham, Michael Stipe, because they are bald.
Changing trends in comedy have not favored Jim Carrey, whose broad, broad wackiness ruled the 90′s, but since have been replaced (generally speaking) in favor of low-key ironic bro humor. Thomas Haden Church’s grim Sandman in Spiderman 3 was perfectly serviceable, if you’re into a villain who is driven to violent evil by, um, domestic angst. The Sandman role would play to Carrey’s famous rubber-faced strengths, because Sandman is always contorting his body into ridiculous shapes that torment Spidey by leaving rough, irritated patches on his skin. Also, obviously, this would give Jim the chance to get closer to that Emma Stone gal he seems to like so much.
Mysterio is really the archetypal problem Spiderman villain; he’s just lame. He wears a crystal ball on his head and his power is that he is good with special effects. You know, practical special effects, with clouds of smoke and squibs and stuff. So, besides needing to learn Maya and Flame for a changing film industry, Mysterio needs sexing up. Who better than that dead-sexiest of leading men, Steve Carrell? Anyone familiar with Carrell’s works knows that his roles often have him doing magic tricks, and really that is all there is to Mysterio, except that he also is always annoyingly escaping things, unlike Michael Scott, who lest we forget, was the original Magic Mike (oy, bit of a tangled web of references there):
DOCTOR OCTOPUS – Grace Park
Unlike the X-Men (ninjas), the Avengers (Red Ronin), Daredevil (also ninjas) and Iron Man (the Mandarin), Spidey doesn’t really have an Asian foe. He gets along with Asians, and ninjas, apparently. However, his enduring popularity in Japan’s pop culture sort of makes an argument for an Asian Spider-villain.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one, so for the purposes of this I will make one up.
Doctor Octopus, arguably the most famous Spider-villain, has a female counterpart in the comics, known as Lady Octopus. Grace Park, for better or for worse, is often doing characters who, if not actually evil, are a little scheme-y (Battlestar Galactica, West 32nd, her undercover shenanigans in Hawaii Five-0). Doc Ock, although aspiring to be a truly evil badass, is really just good at scheming. The I Will Build A Device To Grant Me Ultimate Power Scheme. The I Will Marry Aunt May Just To Screw With Spiderman’s Head Scheme. And, again in the interest of diversity in casting, why not have a Cylon in the otherwise All-Caucasian Six?
But don’t ask what happened when I started my image search for this by typing in “asian lady octopus.”
Finally, all this geeky conjecturing is fueled only by wanting this new Spiderman movie to be as great and beautiful as Spiderman actually is. A good reason for hope is in Andrew Garfield’s speech at ComicCon 2011, in which it was clear he understood not only the necessary sense of humor, but the deeply insecure heart of a hero that makes the character so enduring. Here’s to many future quips, and thwips.