The original Spider-Man (2002) film was released to rave reviews, garnering a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the sequel (2004) was even more critically acclaimed with an average of 94%. Now, the similarity between these two movies (besides the cast, setting, and name) is that each one only had one villain, allowing a great deal of focus on just him and Spider-Man. Now, the biggest difference between this incredibly popular sequel and the “threequel” was that the third movie had three villains. Oh, yeah, and the ratings were different, too. About 32% different.
So, what was the cause of this? Is there simply a curse on these so-called “threequels” (like the 34% drop from x2 to X-Men: The Last Stand), possibly because “threequel” is such a stupid word? Or perhaps it’s because Sam Raimi packed as many villains as he could into a movie, which was easily the biggest complaint critics had regarding the movie. But that may oversimplify the problem: going back to one villain may not be a quick fix for the next installment in the Spider-Man franchise.
*SPOILER ALERTS FOR SPIDER-MAN 3 FOLLOW* The nearly two and half hour movie left a lot of loose ends. Harry Osborn died, leaving open the position of who would run Oscorp, Peter and Mary Jane had never officially “made up”, and Sandman’s fate was left unanswered. Where do you pick up from there? Well, fans have been clamoring for the Lizard and Carnage, and Dr. Connors does still has a piece of the symbiote…
The best bet for a Spider-Man 4 would be to have just one villain, leaving director Sam Raimi with the difficult choice between Carnage and the Lizard. Like I said, Dr. Connors still has a piece of the symbiote, and using Carnage as a villain would tie that up – but in the comics, Carnage is nearly unstoppable, at least by Spider-Man alone. Spider-Man was always forced to team up with Venom, at least temporarily, to take out the much more powerful foe. With Venom’s death in Spider-Man 3, it might just be impossible to have Carnage and Spidey face off.
Because of that, and although it would leave Dr. Connors with a piece of the symbiote, the Lizard would be a much more practical villain for the movie. Spider-Man would have the ability to actually defeat him, and Dr. Connor’s appearances in all the previous movies would finally have meaning. In fact, if Raimi truly did want to fix the mistakes of Spider-Man 3, he could somehow integrate the symbiote into Connors’ transformation into the Lizard, even if it would make all the geeks grab their pitchforks (or plastic lightsabers).
As for the relationship between Peter and MJ, why have them make up now? Sure, more love drama might seem like it would make the movie drag on like the last one, but with just one villain, Peter’s interaction with other people would have to step up. Although it bothers me greatly that Raimi threw away the possibility of having Gwen Stacy be a major character, why not give Peter another romance, with, say, Betty Grant?
And finally, the problem with Oscorp. Sam Raimi has said that he would love to do a Spider-Man 4, 5, and 6, and while each movie will likely have a different plot and villain, there is the possibility that Spider-Man 4 will be the beginning of a three-movie story arc. In the comics, Norman Osborn returned from his supposed death, and because the lead position of Oscorp is empty, that leaves the perfect chance for Norman to come back, or at least have a “puppet” to control the company for him while he plots revenge on Spider-Man. And since Raimi isn’t really paying attention to the comics, wouldn’t it be amazing to see Osborn come back in the sixth movie as the Hobgoblin?
But these are all just ideas, and shouldn’t be taken as actual news. While it would be great if Sam Raimi listened to these, don’t count on it (hey, since it’s the fourth Spider-Man movie, why don’t you just have four villains!?).