Every sunset is just the prologue to another sunrise, and every superhero movie is just the prologue to another post-credits scene featuring a first look at a potential sequel villain. And so, the angsty web-swinging reboot The Amazing Spider-Man concludes with a brief tease for the already-in-development Amazing sequel. As far as post-credits scenes go, Amazing wins points for pure non sequitur obscurity. Very little is revealed, although much is teased. Let’s unpack it a little bit, shall we? (Spoilers from here.)
The scene begins with the captured Dr. Curt Connors being locked away in a prison cell. Lightning strikes. Suddenly, there’s another man in the prison cell. A shadowy man, covered in shadows, murmuring shadowy words with shadowy implications. “Hello, Doctor!” says the man, in a raspy voice. “Did you tell the boy?”
“Tell him what?” says Connors.
“Did you tell the boy the truth about his father?” The man steps into the light just a little bit. We can see that he has long hair, and is holding a hat (like, a fedora) in his hands.
“Well, that’s very good. So we’ll let him be for now.” The man walks away. Dr. Connors screams, “You should leave him alone!” But the man has disappeared.
The voice is recognizable to anyone who’s a watched any genre television in the last two decades or so. That’s Michael Massee, a character actor who specializes in playing evil dudes with raspy voices. When Massee was originally cast in Amazing Spider-Man last year, rumors circulated that he was playing an Oscorp employee named David Patrick Lowell. That appears to have been a ruse, so the question becomes: Who exactly is he supposed to be in that scene?
Since we don’t see the shadow man’s face – and since he pulls a disappearing act between lightning strikes – there’s a part of me that wants to overthink which Spider-Man villain he might be. Face-swapping spy The Chameleon? Mysterio, the Master of Illusion? Yeesh, freaking Kaine, why not? But when it comes to franchise reboots – particularly reboots that hew closely to their predecessor’s well-trodden mythology – the simplest answer is usually the right one. Earlier in Amazing, there were various references to original Spider-Man baddie Norman Osborn: He was said to be sick, even dying, which means that the formula Dr. Connors was working on was intended to cure his illness.
Osborn is certainly wealthy enough to bribe his way into a prison cell. And we can’t overlook the fact that Massee bears an uncanny resemblance to Willem Dafoe, who played Osborn back in Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie. It could be that the makers of Amazing are following the same playbook established by Christopher Nolan with his Batman films: The reboot features a lesser-known nemesis (Scarecrow/Lizard), and the reboot sequel brings in the main villain (Joker/Green Goblin.)
But what the shadow man says is arguably more intriguing than who he is. Most of Amazing’s first act is focused on Peter Parker’s deceased father, played by Campbell Scott. We see Richard Parker’s home office destroyed; we see him flee with Peter’s mother; we see the plane crash that killed them both; and we see Richard’s research. This thread is mostly dropped by the end of the movie – because, well, something something blue energy – but Amazing spends so long establishing that backstory that it feels like there must be a payoff somewhere down the line. What is the “truth” about Richard Parker? Does that just refer to Richard’s death – an accident that was clearly not an accident? Or was there even more to Richard’s research that Peter doesn’t know about?
One intriguing answer may lie in the source material. In Marvel’s “Ultimate” Universe – a parallel continuity which began a little over a decade ago – Richard Parker was a biologist who created a powerful biotechnological suit that later led to the creation of Venom, the beloved supervillain who got a decidedly halfhearted interpretation in Spider-Man 3. The Spider-Man producers have been teasing a Venom movie lately: Could this be a hint in that direction?
Or maybe…theory lightning round go! Richard Parker is actually still alive. Richard Parker was experimenting on Peter Parker as a child, which is why Peter is able to apparently control his mutation, unlike The Lizard. Peter’s real father is Norman Osborn. The man in the shadows is the Hobgoblin, and Amazing Spider-Man 2 is going to be a retelling of the epic Roger Stern Hobgoblin tale in the ’80s. The man in the shadows is the Demogoblin, and Amazing Spider-Man 2 is going to be a hot ’90s mess. The man in the shadows is J. Jonah Jameson, who has been reimagined as an all-powerful Rupert Murdoch figure. The man in the shadows is the Jackal, and Amazing Spider-Man 2 is gonna be clones, clones, clones!
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