In "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) faces his toughest challenge yet, battling not one, not two, but three of his most notorious rogues: the hard-headed Rhino (Paul Giamatti), the electrifying Electro (Jamie Foxx), and the cackling Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan).
But if Peter thought he had it rough right now, wait until he gets a load of what's coming down the line.
Following on the heels of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," Sony Pictures plans to expand the "Spider-Man" film franchise with at least two announced spinoffs: "Venom," written and directed by Alex Kurtzman, and "The Sinister Six," written and directed by Drew Goddard.
It's the latest attempt to get in on the interconnected superhero universe popularized by Marvel Studios' "Avengers" initiative -- except this time, the new stories spinning out of "Spider-Man" are centered on the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler's various villains, not his allies.
"Movies about villains are awesome," executive producer Matt Tolmach explained in an exclusive interview with CBR News. "And Marvel villains are better than any other villains. They're complex characters. This kind of just happened."
Indeed, news of the "Sinister Six" plan came as a surprise to even some of the actors rumored to be involved. For instance, actor Dane DeHaan told CBR News that "Sinister Six" was "never part of the plan" when he first signed on to play Harry Osborn in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."
"There was no murmur of that when we were shooting," he said. "But as they started to show the movie, people were responding so well to Harry and Electro and the Goblin, and that's where they got the idea."
Tolmach confirmed that the idea for "Sinister Six" grew out of watching "The Amazing Spider-Man" sequel take shape. "
Something happened when we were making this last movie," he said. "It happened early in the making of this last movie. Some of it was the story. Some of it was the casting of the villains that are in this movie. Some of it was [production designer] Mark Friedberg's mind-blowing set creation. Suddenly, Oscorp was becoming this character in a way that even caught us slightly off guard. It was the place where all these things originated from."
By "all these things," Tolmach refers to the horrific nightmares plaguing Peter Parker's life in and out of the Spider-Man suit -- characters like Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), the Oscorp scientist who turned himself into a man-sized reptile in the first "Amazing Spider-Man," or Max Dillon, the low-level technician who falls into a pool of genetically altered electrical eels and emerges as the god-like Electro in "Amazing Spider-Man 2." Even the heir of Oscorp himself, Harry, uses the company's scientific advances to turn himself into something... well, sinister.
"We began to salivate at the possibilities," said Tolmach. "All of the sudden, it made sense, how all these things would come together, and how they would all come out of the same place."
Beyond "The Sinister Six," there's "Venom," a character who already had one trip to the big-screen courtesy of Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 3." The movie, and Venom in particular, weren't exactly received with open arms, but Tolmach and his producing partner, longtime Marvel fixture Avi Arad, remained interested in finding new ways of telling the Venom story in its own dedicated feature-film.
"The truth is, Avi and I worked on various iterations and attempts at a 'Venom' movie for a very long time, because he's an unbelievable character," said Tolmach. "We love the character and the power of him and the complexity. He's not simple. People don't know that Venom actually has this unbelievably moralistic sensibility. We loved the character. So we've been talking about him for a long time."
Over the years, writers like "The Dark Knight" scribe David Goyer and "Zombieland" duo Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, took their shots at "Venom." Now, the Spider-Man-hating symbiote is in the hands of Alex Kurtzman, one of the co-writers of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." Meanwhile, "The Sinister Six" is in the hands of writer-director Drew Goddard, who is also attached to Netflix's "Daredevil" series. As those spinoffs develop, Marc Webb remains at the helm of the next "Amazing Spider-Man" movie.
In other words, there is a lot happening in Sony's "Spider-Man" wheelhouse. But how will it all connect? For Tolmach, it's all about following a simple rule: everything passes through the wall-crawler.
"Oscorp is the dark tower," he said, "but this is the important thing for us: we're building out our universe, but we're building it around Spider-Man. He's the hub of it all."
Even as Tolmach, Arad, Kurtzman and Goddard prepare to bring "Venom" and "The Sinister Six" to the big screen, some have wondered why the powers that be behind the "Spider-Man" franchise aren't considering feature films centered on the wall-crawler's allies -- like "Ultimate Spider-Man," the Brian Bendis-penned comic about an adolescent who takes over the Spider-Man mantle after Peter Parker's death. It's a possibility that star Andrew Garfield has considered himself.
"Miles Morales was a huge moment in this character's comic book life," Garfield told CBR News recently. "And I do believe that we can do that. It's something I'm really interested in figuring out; an eloquent way of coexisting, of passing on the torch. I don't have an answer, but I think it's actually a really important move. I think it's a really beautiful and important move."
However, it's not a move that's on the table for producers right now.
"['Ultimate Spider-Man'] is easy to do in publishing," said Arad. "People love Peter, all over the world. We just finished the ['Amazing Spider-Man 2' global press tour], and they all love him. We just have to be careful. We have to stay with Stan Lee. Every time, fondly we think about what Stan Lee would do now."
For now, Arad and Tolmach are focused on furthering Peter Parker's adventures in the "Amazing Spider-Man" films, as well as bolstering his rogues gallery through "Sinister Six" and "Venom." But even then, the producers don't necessarily view these new sets of characters as full-on villains, necessarily.
"We call them villains, but that's like calling Magneto a villain," said Arad. "They all have an accident, something that puts them in the suit, that instead of heroes, they became villains."
"Tragic circumstances," agreed Tolmach. "Tragic choices, really. That's a good title."
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" swings into theaters on May 2.