With about six months before the release of Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there are at least three confirmed villains set to appear in the film.
There are also, by our count, at least another four that have been teased, rumored or mentioned in passing by the filmmakers.
It seemed, on the heels of the release of a purportedly-legitimate poster for the film above, depicting not just Electro but also Green Goblin and The Rhino, like as good a time as any to take stock of the various rumors and reports.
For the record, when we list a character's status as "viral" below, what we mean is that it's unclear the character will appear or be referenced onscreen but they exist in the film's universe, as evidenced by one or more entries on the film's viral marketing website for The Daily Bugle. The movie's Wikipedia page lists The Vulture and Hydro-Man as characters teased by the Bugle, too, although it doesn't substantiate that claim and we can't find the reference.
Role: Electro is the primary antagonist--so much so that rumor has it the film might take on a subtitle, "The Rise of Electro." That's perhaps not surprising since Jamie Foxx is an Oscar-winner and a significant box office draw, so the promotional upside to featuring him heavily combined with the fact that it's perhaps easier to attract someone with star power if you promise them a name in the title and a face on the poster makes those choices pretty obvious, really.
We know that Electro will be depicted at first as kind of a loser who viewers can feel a bit sorry for--but that he's been trampled down enough by life that when he gets powers he kind of snaps back and becomes a danger to everyone around him, debuting in spectacular fashion and focusing on Spider-Man, for one reason or another, as the target of much of his rage.
Role: It's unclear; it looks like The Rhino will represent the organized crime contingent. This could be an interesting role for a few reasons:
First of all, his role as a Russian mobster in an Adidas tracksuit reminds me of the "bros" from Hawkeye. And any reference to that comic will bring a smile to my face.
Secondly, the idea of developing what seems to be armor to tackle Spider-Man shows how the criminal element would adapt to the reality of superhuman vigilantes on the streets. It's a bit like Jim Gordon says at the end of Batman Begins: as law enforcement tactics escalate, so do the tactics of criminals looking to avoid getting caught...so when there's a superhero at play, it's almost kind of logical in a twisted way that we would get supervillains too.
Third, it sets up a villainous threat that isn't directly tied to Spider-Man. It's a problem of superhero stories in general but certainly one that many viewers voiced about Man of Steel this year: if the villains in the film are primarily there to antagonize your hero, or are at least dark reflections of him, is it harder to call him a "hero" because really he's just cleaning up his own messes? Organized crime, though, can't be laid at Spider-Man's feet, even if the dude in the rhino suit might be using it to avoid getting caught by somebody with powers.
Role: It's unclear. From the look of that poster--assuming it's official--it seems as though he's hanging back and possibly directing the more muscle-headed efforts of Rhino and Electro, but little is known about the extent to which the character will play a role in the film, or in what way. We've seen a metal-and-glass chamber, which is where he apparently got his powers and altered appearance before breaking out, but that's as close as we've come to anything in the way of an official word on Spidey's biggest bad guy.
Name: Black Cat
Status: Confirmed (Mostly)
Role: Felicia Hardy will (almost certainly) definitely be appearing in the film--reportedly as someone who goes to school with Peter--but whether she'll (cat)suit up is a whole other question.
Of course, the involvement of Felicia Hardy was confirmed not by the filmmakers but by the actress who was a bit cornered on the issue. We'll see how that plays out.
Name: Frederick Foswell/Big Man
Role: A story on the Daily Bugle viral site referenced a "Big Man" trying to pull together disparate elements of the organized crime community. In the comics, Big Man was the head of The Enforcers, an organized crime organization that didn't shy away from the use of high-tech and powers in the early days of Spider-Man's career. They were created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and not unlike the Intergang organization that would later appear in Jack Kirby's Jimmy Olsen comics.
Role: Unclear. According to a recent Daily Bugle article, someone using Shocker's M.O. (that is, using seismic shocks to break open a vault) has turned up. The NYPD are looking into it. His yellow pants, though (or pants like them) did appear on a clothesline at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man.
Role: In the same article that teased Shocker, Stanley Carter was named as the officer looking into the robbery. Carter, of course, is best known as the Sin-Eater, who killed longtime Spider-Man supporting cast member Jean DeWolff.
Role: The viral campaign for the movie shows a mention of Smythe in a Daily Bugle article as the head of the engineering division of Oscorp and that he is working on significant advancements in robotics.
In the comics, Smythe invented the Spider-Slayers, robots designed to track and capture Spider-Man, which Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson became invested in at one point in the publishing history.
Role: Its hard to picture just how Venom might fit into the film, but one of the earliest set photos featured an image that was reminiscent of a scene featuring "Ultimate" Venom...and since most of the films come from the Ultimate Comics version, that's hard to ignore.
The fact that Sony has had a Venom movie in development hell for years is also a good indicator they want to see the character redeemed from Spider-Man 3 sooner than later.
Role: A patient at Ravencroft Institute, Cletus Kasady is rumored to make a cameo appearance, as played by Jim Carrey, who was spotted on-set.
This is entirely conjecture based on someone who claims to have a (very) little inside information, though, and it would be hard to picture them using Carnage if Venom isn't yet established, so take it with a grain of salt. If true, it's still likely we'll just see Kasady and not Venom.