Michael Keaton playing Batman in The Flash?! Jamie Foxx returning as Electro in Marvel’s third Spider-Man movie? What’s next, Gene Hackman coming out of retirement to play Lex Luthor in Man of Steel 2?! It’s a madhouse!
Well, this is a surprise. The Hollywood Reporter is, uh, reporting that Jamie Foxx’s Electro, last seen seemingly dead at the climax of Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man 2, is both alive and showing up again to menace a different franchise’s Spider-Man. Since he was soundly defeated at the hands of Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker, with the help of Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy, maybe he’ll have better luck against Tom Holland’s MCU variation. Yes, J.K. Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson popped up in a mid-credit cookie in Spider-Man: Far from Home (a scene that, no spoilers, ended the film on a massive cliffhanger), but that somewhat made sense as he was a fan-favorite character who Simmons made his own in Sam Raimi’s beloved Spider-Man trilogy. I liked Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 more than most folks, but Foxx’s Electro isn’t exactly beloved.
Story details are obviously under wraps. Most importantly, we don’t know if Foxx’s Electro (real name Max Dillon) is the same sheepish, nerdy scientist who popped up in the 2014 Spidey sequel or whether it’s merely the same actor playing a different version of the character. For example, while Judi Dench played M in the four Pierce Brosnan 007 movies and the four (thus far) Daniel Craig James Bond flicks, it was stressed that she wasn’t the exact same character in the all eight films. And it’s frankly unlikely that Simmons’ J.J. Jameson is the same man who verbally sparred with Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker. That said, I can’t imagine why you’d bring back Foxx as Electro without the buzzy cross-universe continuity. Something tells me something weird was supposed to go down in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
That Sam Raimi flick was supposed to pick up directly after the events of WandaVision. But while the Scarlett Witch/Vision Disney+ TV show is still slated for late 2020, the second Doctor Strange sequel will open not May 6, 2021 as intended (Black Widow will now kick off next summer) but March 25, 2022, arriving AFTER Spider-Man 3 (December 23, 2021) and Thor: Love and Thunder (February 11, 2022). I’m sure Kevin Feige and friends are hard at work mitigating any continuity issues in terms of what films were supposed to open in what order, and I wouldn’t be surprised if (obviously) Black Widow, Eternals, Shang-Chi and Thor 4 take place before the events of WandaVision. I’m reminded of the mid-2000’s Batman comics which had a sprawling, status-quo shattering cross-over (“War Games”) and then launched into a year-long Detective Comics arc set before “War Games.”
This combined with Ben Affleck’s Batman and Michael Keaton’s Batman returning in DC Films’ The Flash seems to indicate that both DC and the MCU are playing in respective multi-verses and that anything from a prior movie or TV show is entirely fair game. Still, it makes more sense to bring in beloved characters from a much-loved iteration than, all due respect, a not-so-beloved villain from a sequel that underperformed enough (especially in North America, where Amazing Spider-Man 2 earned just $202 million out of $709 million worldwide) to essentially kill that version of the franchise. Still, if DC decides to bring back Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy, I’d have exactly zero objections. Or perhaps in this case it’s a matter of Feige just liking Foxx’s Mysterio and just taking from what’s already available versus creating a new version out of whole cloth.
That’s something to consider when it comes time for the X-Men to show up. As I noted when the Fox/Disney deal first became public, there is a certain logic in just bringing on Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier and/or Halle Berry as Storm since those are indeed beloved interpretations of already established characters. Yes, if they can bribe Hugh Jackman to “un-retire” his Wolverine, especially in a fashion that doesn’t undo the events of Logan, well, that’s no weirder than Michael Keaton playing Bruce Wayne 30 years after Batman Returns. Ditto DC Films retroactively including Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern in the DC Films franchise, both because A) it plays as a rough draft for Shazam! and Aquaman and B) doing so would mean you don’t need to retell the origin story. Moreover, it would make that Martin Campbell flop “necessary” for fans.
Presuming the events of Amazing Spider-Man 2 are somewhat canon in some dimension of the MCU, then that Marc Webb-directed franchise is not just a strange byproduct of a different moment in time. Sony bungled Amazing Spider-Man by overspending and then crafting a generic Batman Begins-like origin story (as opposed to a cheap “Twilight with webs” flick which was the initial pitch in 2010. It paled in comparison to The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Amazing Spider-Man 2 crafted a mostly Peter Parker-centric sequel but A) sold itself as a backdoor pilot for a Spidey universe and B) killed off the most popular character (Stacey) to appease hardcore fans. That’s a mistake, turning off general audiences to play to alleged hardcores, that franchises (Star Trek into Darkness) keep making (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) over (Spectre) and over (Dark Phoenix) again.
The 2012 flick earned $758 million worldwide on a $235 million budget and the sequel earned $709 million worldwide on a $255 million budget. Of course, like the Michael Keaton news, this may all be a bunch of huff-and-puff over what could be a glorified cameo as Peter sticks his head into an interdimensional portal or what-have-you. But assuming these developments are more than just blink-and-you-miss-it moments, it’s a sign that the next wave of comic book superhero movies, specifically Marvel and DC, will be looking as much toward the past incarnations to juice interest in older fans alongside the younger fans. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea, but it’s certainly a different idea. But I certainly wouldn’t peg Jamie Foxx’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 baddie as a hook for generational nostalgia. As always, we’ll see.
Source: Forbes – Business