The newest Spider-Man franchise has shown movie audiences just how long the Web-slinger’s list of quality villains really is. The Vulture, Mysterio, Shocker, and even Hydro-Man (in function, if not name) have all made appearances in the first two movies featuring director Jon Watts’ take on the character. While the Raimi films have seen a recent resurgence in popularity, specifically on the Raimi memes subreddit, the admiration for Tom Holland’s portrayal of Peter Parker and glowing reviews of Spider-Man: Homecoming have set the new duology apart. It’s unlikely that Spider-Man: Far From Home will end the newest filmed adventures of Spider-Man adventures though, which raises one very big question: Who will he battle next?
There are still plenty of unadapted villains, like Kraven the Hunter, Hobgoblin, Scorpion and Chameleon. That doesn’t even consider the many classics who might be well-suited for a revival, like Doctor Octopus or Sandman. However, looking for a singular big bad (along with one or two sidekicks a la Shocker in Homecoming) ignores the arc of both the current Spider-Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which he is a central star. Following Spider-Man: Far From Home, it’s apparent that when (let’s not kid around with “if”) this Spider-Man receives a third film, he finally needs to battle a big screen version of the Sinister Six.
The Heir Apparent
For most of his stories at Marvel Comics, Spider-Man has been cast as an underdog, even though he is typically the star of one of, if not the, best-selling ongoing series. That has not been the case for the newest version, though. Despite some appeals to the ol’ Parker luck at school and with his love life, Spider-Man debuted in a position where he could team-up with Iron Man and battle Captain America, the two biggest stars of the entire MCU. He was set up as Tony Stark’s successor in Spider-Man: Homecoming and was provided a suit and abilities that allowed him to accomplish feats every bit as great as Iron Man’s. Spider-Man has been set up to be a leading man amongst many talented Avengers, and the time for him to take that role is now with both Iron Man and Captain America gone.
That sort of leading man role demands greater threats. Adrian Toomes was an excellent introductory villain, an arms dealer who threatened to escalate an arms race between criminals and superheroes. Now in Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter has gone abroad and is dealing with city-destroying monsters along with the possibility of a multiversal threat (assuming it’s not a hoax via Mysterio). The Sinister Six represent the sort of threat that could both build upon Spider-Man’s classic stories and mark him as one of the essential heroes in the Marvel universe. While Electro, Rhino, or Kraven may not be tremendous threats individually, together they mark the beginnings of a world-threatening conspiracy. This is the sort of adversary required for a hero assuming guardianship of more than just Queens.
It’s not only that Spider-Man needs bigger threats in order to meet expectations from earlier films, it’s that larger threats are required to meet his current abilities and experience. The trailers for Spider-Man: Far From Home have already joked about how far Peter has come from the start of Spider-Man: Homecoming when Nick Fury says, “Bitch, please, you’ve been to space.” Spider-Man both went to space and toe-to-toe with Thanos while he was there. New powerhouses like the elemental monsters previewed for this summer are required to maintain any tension. There’s no doubt that this version of Spider-Man can already handle most of the villains in his extensive rogues gallery with ease.
The beauty of the Sinister Six as a concept is that they build stakes and tension without having to threaten the end of Earth or reality. Spider-Man might be able to fight in the same room as Thanos, but he doesn’t have the raw power of someone like Captain Marvel. Each of his classic villains still poses some threat, so when they are combined it can become overwhelming, no matter how many tricks Peter might possess. With mad geniuses like Doctor Octopus and power brokers like Chameleon available, it’s not difficult to imagine how this group might pose a threat on the same scale as Hydra in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. They strike a balance between the need for bigger stakes and the style of street level, superpowered battles that suit Spider-Man best.
One Last Shot at a Classic
In addition to Spidey’s role as Iron Man’s heir apparent and his high-powered track record, there’s also the simple urge described by George Mallory of climbing a mountain because it is there. The Sinister Six, in their many, many variations, have played a central role in the Spider-Man comics. Together they have highlighted both the impressive array of villains Spider-Man has fought and how wild superhero comics can be. Those same attributes have made the concept of bringing the Sinister Six to film seem intimidating. Six distinct villains requires budget for casting, costume design, and ample screentime to even stand a chance at getting the story right. Actually pulling it off would be a tightrope walk of scripting and direction unlike almost anything seen before.1comments
The word “almost” is important though because Avengers: Endgame somehow managed to succeed with an even larger cast of characters and more extraordinary final showdown. With that seemingly impossible task accomplished elsewhere, a movie version of the Sinister Six seem plausible for the very first time. As rumors swirled around Sony doing a spinoff movie based on the concept several years ago, it seemed like a longshot. Now, even without any rumors, it seems like a natural next step.
It’s still unknown what the next step for both Spider-Man and the entire Marvel franchise will be. The Sinister Six, in any configuration, offers an answer that benefits both stories (as well as Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios). They deliver a bigger threat for Spider-Man and another massive challenge for the biggest superhero story ever told. That’s why it’s time to finally bring the Sinister Six to the big screen.