Back in 2013, when Andrew Garfield was our Spider-Man and Sony Pictures was insanely bullish about its franchise prospects, the future of the Spider-Man series was a blank slate. Filming on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was underway, but Sony was already announcing plans for future spinoff films like Venom and The Sinister Six, which would all connect in the studio’s own mini-interconnected universe. In February of 2014, a couple of months before The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hit theaters, Marc Webb was officially announced as returning to direct The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and Sony couldn’t wait to see how audiences reacted to Amazing Spider-Man 2, which set up vague plans for future films.
As we now know, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was poorly received by critics and, while it grossed $709 million at the worldwide box office, it fell short of the box office of its predecessor. Sony subsequently scrapped all of its long-term interconnected universe plans, teamed up with Marvel Studios for Spider-Man: Homecoming, and is now taking a different track in the wake of that film’s critical praise—although, curiously, while Homecoming bested the domestic gross of both Amazing movies, its worldwide total is, for now, the lowest for a Spider-Man movie since the original at $673 million. Of course it had a lower budget and reaps other benefits for the IP overall, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
But before Homecoming happened, plans were well underway for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and Sinister Six, to be directed by Drew Goddard, and now Webb has revealed what we would have seen had those films been made. Speaking with Den of Geek (via The Playlist), Webb confirmed that the intention was to bring Chris Cooper’s Norman Osborn back after his character’s death in The Amazing Spider-Man 2:
“Yeah, we were talking about the Sinister Six. They were going to make a Sinister Six movie before we did the third one. But I wanted…Chris Cooper was going to come back and play the Goblin. We were going to freeze his head, and then he was going to be brought back to life. And then there was that character called The Gentleman. We had some notions about how to do it, but I think maybe we were thinking too far ahead when we started building in those things. But it was a fun exercise. I look back very fondly on those days.”
Indeed, while there was speculation about whether Jamie Foxx’s Electro would be leading the Sinister Six movie, Webb says the intention was for Cooper’s Goblin to take on that role:
“Well, that was going to be the main villain. He was going to come out and lead the Sinister Six. We had talked about Vulture a little bit too, actually….”
Many were confused as to why Chris Cooper was cast in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to basically only pop up in a couple of scenes as a sickly old man, but now we know they were laying the groundwork for the sequel. This kind of future planning has become a major issue in franchise filmmaking—thinking too far ahead can oftentimes lead to the detriment of the film you’re making now.
In the interview, Webb takes full responsibility for both Amazing Spider-Man movies, saying for better or worse they were his films through and through. But he does admit if he could do it again, he’d do things differently:
“I think I’d just take more time making those movies. But that goes into accepting, when you sign up for it, making clear what you’re willing to accept. I didn’t know how to build a movie like that when I was starting off. So I think I’d be more careful about that now.”
Sony is currently trying to launch its own universe separate from the Marvel co-produced Spider-Man movies with Venom hitting theaters next year and Silver & Black following in short order, so hopefully they’ve learned their lesson about rushing productions and losing sight of the film at hand.
Webb, meanwhile, has jumped back into character-centric films like Gifted and the upcoming The Only Living Boy in New York, but I will say I appreciated his approach to the interpersonal relationships in Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2, so I would definitely be interested to see him tackle another blockbuster at some point.