This time last year it seemed like a sure thing that director Sam Raimi would return to direct Tobey Maguire for Spider-man 4 and 5. However disputes between Raimi and Sony Pictures over story and what villains to use lead to the director walking away from the franchise he helped create. Sony then made the seemingly hasty decision to reboot the franchise and do the origin story over again rather than continue with the current series. However since that initial announcement Sony seems to be moving at a rather un-rushed pace. It was a number of months before director Marc Webb (director of (500) Days of Summer) was signed to take over the series. Since then casting announcements have been trickling in as a somewhat slow but steady pace.
Heat Vision (part of The Hollywood Reporter) has confirmed the latest cast member to be signed to the film. Martin Sheen (best known from TV’s The West Wing) will take the pivotal role of Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, a part played by Cliff Robertson in the 2002 Spider-man film. The character, along with Aunt May, raise Peter as their own after he loses both of his parents. Uncle Ben is essential to Peter’s decision to become a crime fighter, and his mantra of “With great power comes great responsibility” becomes the guiding principle of Peter’s life. Heat Vision is also reporting that Sally Field is in talks to play Aunt May, but no deal has been finalized with her as yet.
Sheen joins a slowly growing cast for this comic book reboot. Andrew Garfield (most recently seen in The Social Network) was cast in the role of Peter Parker back in July, taking over the role from Tobey Maguire. Since then other roles have been cast somewhat slowly. Emma Stone (last seen in Easy A) will be playing the love interest part of Gwen Stacy, previously played by Bryce Dallas Howard in Spider-man 3. Rhys Ifans (soon to be seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1) will be taking on villain duties by playing Curt Connors aka The Lizard. Connors appeared as a non-villainous supporting role in Spider-man 2 and 3 played by Dylan Baker.
At present there are still very few story details that have been revealed by Sony, Webb or any of the other people involved. It is known that the plan is to put Peter back in high school and to do the origin of Spider-man. Even as the film comes together it’s still a somewhat questionable move since it’s ground that was so thoroughly covered by 2002’s Spider-man. Fans are hopeful that the new film will be able to have a slightly different approach while still being true to the characters. Very few other details have been given but the cast that’s been announced has confirmed a few things.
Stone being cast in the role of Gwen Stacy comes at the exclusion of Mary Jane Watson. Watson is Peter Parker’s traditional love interest and was portrayed by Kirsten Dunst in the previous Spider-man films. Stacy was a notable part of Peter’s live in the earlier days of the comic book, however fans are well aware of her inevitable fate (though it’s more likely that would be addressed in sequels.) Ifans taking the role of Connors seems to point to Sony finally being ready to use the Lizard as a villain. It was always odd that Connors was mentioned or appeared in all three previous films but was never used as the antagonist (rumor was that he wasn’t even going to be used in Raimi’s plans for a fourth film.) As more of the cast is put into place fans eagerly wait to hear when filming will begin.