If there’s one thing John Malkovich does well – does really well – it’s give good villain. This, after all, is the man who was Cyrus ‘The Virus’ Grissom in Con Air, and the chameleonic assassin Booth in In The Line Of Fire. And who can forget his spine-chilling turn as Pascal Sauvage, the Greedy Frenchman in the epoch-making comedy, Johnny English?
Yep, nobody does a nice line in on-screen evil quite like Malcatraz, and that’s something Sam Raimi knows all too well. After all, Raimi offered Malkovich the role of the Green Goblin in Spider-Man waaaaaaay back in 2001. For whatever reason – he was booked up, he didn’t like the script, he didn’t like the costume – Malkovich passed on the role, leaving it to Willem Dafoe to snap it up and try desperately to act while stranded in a completely expressionless helmet roughly the size of a small fridge.
But Raimi, it seems, is a determined man and, almost nine years on, it looks like he’s going to get his wish at last, and see Malkovich as a Spider-Man villain after all.
That is, if you believe the rumours currently springing forth from Movieline, which is claiming that, with just a couple of months until Raimi starts filming on Spider-Man 4, Malkovich has been offered the part of the movie’s villain, the bald-as-a-coot winged menace, The Vulture.
But wait – there’s more. Movieline is also saying that The Vulture – aka aged robber, Adrian Toomes, who takes to the skies wearing a hi-tech flying harness – won’t be alone. In fact, he’ll be joined by the beautiful and ravishing Anne Hathaway as… The Vulturess?
Spider-fans, of course, may now be scratching their heads in bemusement at a character that Raimi and his writer, Gary Ross, have apparently conjured up out of thin air. Although it wouldn’t be the first time – technically speaking, the New Goblin, as played by James Franco in Spider-Man 3, was a new character.
But it would seem that The Vulturess – who, presumably, will be able to fly but who won’t be sporting a shiny Matt Lucas-style bald bonce – will, like Franco’s Harry Osborn, be a pre-existing Spider-Man character given a brand-spanking new makeover. For The Vulturess may be the new nom de plume for Felicia Hardy, the white-haired vixen who enters Peter Parker and Spider-Man’s tangled life as the villainous Black Cat.
It’s no secret that Felicia Hardy will show up in Spider-Man 4. Over the last couple of months, virtually every hot young actress in Hollywood, from Romola Garai to Rachel McAdams, has either auditioned for the part, or held talks about it. But it would seem that Hathaway has clinched a role that will be markedly different from its comic book origins.
Cinematical is saying that, if the change does go ahead, it’s because Raimi, Sony and Marvel are nervous about accusations that The Black Cat is a rip-off of Batman’s own sexy feline nemesis, Catwoman (heaven forbid…). But, as much as we’re ok with the idea of giving Hardy a new moniker, something has to be done about that name. The Vulturess? Really?
Of course, the name would indicate that Hathaway and Malkovich, should they sign on the line that is dotted, will be teaming up to menace Tobey Maguire’s webslinger from above. But, given that Raimi is unlikely to repeat the two villains mistake that blighted Spider-Man 3 so, we’d reckon that, sooner rather than later, The Vulturess – if that is her real name – will end up flying on the side of the angels.
Of course, it’s all rumour at the moment, but if this is confirmed, it’s a bold move. Is The Vulture the villain to revitalise the Spider-Man franchise? Will hardcore fans be up in arms over the changes to Hardy’s character, or will the prospect of seeing Anne Hathaway in a white wig and skin-tight costume alleviate their suffering? What do you think?
Spider-Man 4 starts filming in March and is scheduled for release on May 6, 2011.