Paul Giamatti is, without a doubt, one of the finest American actors working today. So it's a bit… surprising, to say the least, to have found out yesterday that he's in talks for the role of the Rhino in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Not just because the Rhino is the very definition of a brute thug –- his power is literally running into things with his head — but because Giamatti is a genuinely talented actor, whose skills would be utterly wasted in the role. But in the spirit of this very bold decision, I'm happy to offer the new Spider-Man movie regime more villain casting suggestions along the same lines.
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Scorpion
Much like Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman is an acclaimed actor whose performances are subtle, dramatic and powerful, and whose cinematic oeuvre is beyond reproach (even moreso than Giamatti's). So it only makes sense for Hoffman to put on a form-fitting suit of green armor and then try and beat Andrew Garfield to death with the imaginary CG tail sticking out of his butt.
Liam Neeson as Shocker
Liam Neeson has been typecast as an angry, righteous man bent on revenge for years, so all you'd need to do to make his turn as Herman Schulz, a burglar who makes himself a pair of gauntlets capable of creating powerful vibrating blasts, work is to add some kind of quest for vengeance. Sure, wearing Shocker's yellow-and-purple quilted costume would be pretty shameful for Neeson, but probably no more than the fact he starred in Battleship. In order for it truly to be a step down, Neeson would have to be forced to make an obligatory Dane Cook "shocker" joke in character at some point during the movie.
Kevin James as Carnage
Carnage is an insane serial killer who bonds with an alien symbiote and goes on a terrifying murder spree. The other is Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Trying to watch Kevin James portray the disturbed killer Cletus Kasady would be horrific enough in its own right, but seeing James as a red-black tentacle monster with fangs? No one who saw that would ever sleep again.
Tommy Lee Jones as Mysterio
Mysterio is an actor whose flair for the theatric leads him to a life of supervillainy, using a variety of insane special effects to torment Spider-Man. Tommy Lee Jones is a very grumpy old man, who would bring nothing to the role of Mysterio other than complete and total disgust with the movie and everyone involved in it. The best part is, even if you can't see the look of loathing on Jones' face because of Mysterio's fishbowl helmet, it would definitely still come through in Jones' flat, contemptuous voice.
Judi Dench as Black Cat
While the 78-year-old Dench has performed Shakespeare on the stage and starred in more than her share of dramas, she's no stranger to genre films. Which is why the best way to miscast her in Amazing Spider-Man 2 would to be to have her star as Felicia Hardy, the sexy burglar known as the Black Cat. With a cleavage-exposing leather bodysuit (imagine Catwoman's, but without the option of zipping it up), Black Cat -– whose primary characteristic is her bosom -– would be inappropriate for Dench's talent, age, body type, and most of all, her dignity. But imagine the sex scene between her and Garfield! Rowr!
Martin Lawrence as the Vulture
The villain called as the Vulture is best known as the elderly Adrian Toomes, but several other bad guys have taken the moniker, including a 30-something thug, a middle-aged college professor, and a dude who turned into an actual vulture-man. So what better way to portray this quasi-beloved villain than with Big Momma himself? I say he does the role as Big Momma, so we can see Lawrence in his trademark fat suit, soaring majestically through the air.
Gene Hackman as Kraven the Hunter
Gene Hackman is such a talented actor that I actually have no doubt he could pull of an interesting Sergei Kravinoff, the big game hunter who seeks a challenge worthy of his skills by hunting Spider-Man. However, just try to imagine a shirtless 82-year-old Hackman wearing Kraven's traditional lion-faced vest. It's funny because it's shameful!
Elle Fanning as the Kingpin
The adorable moppet of Super 8 and Babel fame is now 14, but I imagine that's still far too young to portray Wilson Fisk, the Marvel universe's massive kingpin of crime. For one, she'd have had to begun her criminal career in the womb in order to become the undisputed crimelord of New York City by her age. Second, look at her, and try to imagine that angelic, wide-eyed face commanding her hardened thugs to go kill Spider-Man. It wouldn't work. A kitten would be more believable, because at least cats love murdering things. For the ultimate in tonal disconnect, Spider-Man should just use the footage of the late Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin from the Daredevil movie, but CG in Elle Fanning's head onto his body.
Daniel Day-Lewis as Man-Wolf
Daniel Day-Lewis is without a doubt the finest dramatic British actor under 60; everything he's in is practically guaranteed to earn a Best Picture nomination. So I'd really, really love to hear some agent try to explain to Mr. Day-Lewis: "So you're an astronaut who's also a werewolf. No, wait! Hear me out! …because you found a magic necklace on the moon." /door slams
Robert De Niro as Swarm
Former Nazi scientist-turned-beekeeper Fritz von Meyer managed to turn himself into a sentient piles of bees... who have chosen to collectively wear a cape. Casting the legendary De Niro would be worth it just to see him on set, trying to do the motion capture for a man made out of bees. I bet he'd make a "Bzzzzz!" noise and everything. The sad part is, given De Niro's film choices recently, I doubt he'd turn this role down.
Maggie Smith as Lady Octopus
Assuming The Amazing Spider-Man series will avoid its predecessors' villains for the time being, an easy cheat would to do what Marvel did, and decide the new Doctor Octopus is a woman. In the comics, one of Doc Ock's students took up the mantle; perhaps Dame Smith could be a senior citizen who has returned to college to finally finish the degree she wasn't able to get in the ‘50s. Or have her be the Alfred Molina's daughter from the first trilogy, despite the fact this is a reboot. Frankly, the first Amazing Spider-Man movie had more egregious plot holes.
Denzel Washington as the Hypno-Hustler
Denzel Washington is A Very Serious Actor who has exclusively played Very Serious Roles, so it would be nice for him to bring his gravitas to Hypno-Hustler, a character that has never once come close to being anything other than completely ridiculous. Hypno-Hustler is a criminal who hypnotizes people by playing the guitar and has boots that can emit knock-out gas; also, he looks ridiculous, even by the comparative standards of a swarm of sentient bees wearing a purple cape. Honestly, there would be no greater gulf between the vast overqualification of the actor and the complete shittiness of the comic character than Denzel Washington and the Hypno-Hustler.
Nic Cage as the Jackal
One's a dangerous lunatic who merged his own DNA with that of a jackal, and spends all his time basically fucking with Spider-Man –- cloning him (the Clone saga was all the Jackal's doing), giving everyone in Manhattan spider-powers, creating a disease that specifically lets people know Peter Parker is Spider-Man, and more. The other is a dangerous lunatic who laughs like a jackal and -– oh. Wait. That's actually great. Nic Cage would be a perfect Jackal. Never mind! Sony, you can have this one for free!