For as long as I’ve been a fan of comic books, Spider-Man has always been my absolute favorite superhero. Because of this, the Green Goblin has been my favorite villain for almost as long. He is as entrenched in the Spider-Man universe as anyone outside of Peter Parker himself. With all that said, I realize that my expectations of the character’s portrayal in movies is rather high…but sadly, those expectations have yet to be met in a live-action film.
I didn’t hate Willem Dafoe’s take on Norman Osborn in Spider-Man. In fact, I thought the scene where he’s talking to himself in the mirror was wonderfully done and perfectly captured the essence of Goblin’s insanity. But the performance as a whole was hit-and-miss. And the costume was a BIG miss. The decision to put him in a suit of armor may have made sense in theory…but in execution, it looked rather silly. I realize that they couldn’t put him in the green scaly outfit that he’s worn for most of his existence, but what made the producers think that making Spider-Man’s arch-enemy look like a Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers cast-off was the preferable alternative?
Obviously The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t released in theaters until Friday, so I can’t really comment on how the character will be portrayed by Dane DeHaan. But I can comment on what I do know. First off, I hate the idea of having Harry Osborn be the Green Goblin before his father, played by Chris Cooper (love that casting, by the way). It completely changes the dynamic of Peter and Harry’s relationship before it even gets started. As an audience, we weren’t introduced to Harry in the first film. So him popping up in the sequel just to be Peter’s friend for part of the movie before he turns on him seems rushed and terribly ham-fisted. This doesn’t seem like the route to take to illicit the emotional response that Harry’s betrayal should carry.
I’m also not a fan of Norman and Harry having some disease that is basically transforming them into green monsters. I wasn’t a fan of the decision to make the Green Goblin a monster in the Ultimate Spider-Man comic line, and I don’t like the idea of it any more for film. And if they were going to go the monster route, could they not have made him look a little less like Billy Idol?
It’s such a shame that some of the greatest villains from the realm of comics have had great, memorable portrayals that were still true to the original source (Heath Ledger’s Joker, Ian McKellan’s & Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, David Morrissey’s Governor) and Green Goblin isn’t among them. I hope and pray that one day either Sony Pictures decides to give us a truly great Green Goblin or Marvel Studios gets possession of the movie rights to its flagship character and does what Sony couldn’t do.