Spider-Man has, by far, had more televised animated incarnations than any superhero, and that’s including Batman, who comes a close second. Hot on the heels of the 1992 X-Men cartoon, Fox launched its updated version of Spider-Man which had arc storytelling in high quantities and villains upon villains for the ol’ Web Head to fend off. But, what if Fox hadn’t picked up this idea for use in a cartoon series? What if they went ahead with a live action film, a full decade before Sam Raimi did his? Let’s say it was Spider-Man vs The Sinister Six. Who would play the various baddies, and who’d be our friendly neighborhood you-know-who?
Spider-Man a/k/a Peter Parker played by Wil Wheaton
This is the biggest no-brainer in the whole wide world. 1) Nerd cred, 2) Age appropriate, 3) Snark factor, 4) how Goddamned cool would it have been if Wil Wheaton was Spider-Man? I’m now really upset this didn’t happen. Get Doc Brown or that guy Rufus on the horn; I want to go back in time and change history.
The Sinister Six
Doctor Octopus played by John Lithgow
This one proved to be a bit more difficult than I thought, but in the end, I feel like Lithgow’s energy and intensity, plus the fact that he can do comic book-level insanity (see Buckaroo Banzai, Raising Cain, and Cliffhanger) make him a decent choice for the leader of the Sinister Six. Also, he clearly doesn’t have a problem with weird hair.
Shocker played by Bruce Campbell
Why? Why the hell not?! The Shocker (oh, heavens, what a silly name) is one of Spider-Man’s quippier villains, and can also be formidable and dangerous, so let’s let Bruce Campbell show his villain chops. At this point, he’d have just made Army of Darkness, which in this reality made him a huge star. Granted, Shocker wears a mask through most of his marauding, but Bruce’s voice is quite distinct, so that totally makes up for it.
Mysterio played by Sean Bean
Okay, hear me out. In 1992, Sean Bean was the bad guy in Patriot Games and proved himself quite a sinister figure indeed. Up to that point, he’d mostly been a British TV actor, but a good turn in an American movie would put his name on a list (and it did), and so he’d make a lot of sense as a stunt man/special effects guy turned master of illusion. He’d be mysterious to American audiences. Get what I’m throwing down? He’s a good villain, clearly, and this might be one of the few times he’d play a bad guy and not die. Or a person and not die.
Rhino played by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
Regardless of whether he had on the grey suit with the horn, if you saw Roddy Piper charging at you, you’d pee your pants and run, or pee your pants and get crushed. Either way, pants-peeing is happening. He’s a really big guy who can play mean (years in the WWF saw to that) and he could even be employed as the fight choreographer after his stellar turn with that epic fight in They Live.
Scorpion played by Denis Leary
Scorpion was once schlubby private investigator Mac Gargan before J. Jonah Jameson and Dr. Farley Stillwell experimented on him as a means of destroying Spider-Man. The mutagen turned him into one of the loudest, angriest, shoutiest villains in the whole of the Marvel Universe. Do I really need to tell you why Denis Leary would be right for the role after this? If you still need convincing, listen to No Cure for Cancer. Then we’ll talk.
Chameleon played by Ron Perlman
Strictly speaking, no actor is as good in heavy face makeup than Rob Perlman. He would have just more or less gotten finished playing Vincent in the TV show Beauty and the Beast so a bit of white and some sculpting to make his face more skeletal would be a breeze. Chameleon is Red Skull’s foster son and Kraven’s half-brother, so he’s got evil in his court-appointed or partially-genetic bones.
Mary Jane Watson played by Robyn Lively
Another huge no-brainer (once it took me 2 hours to think of). She’s got the look, she’s got the attitude, she was in a million things prior to this; That’s a win. Plus, this casting will bring in the inexplicably huge Teen Witch audience as well as the Twin Peaks fans who thought she was foxy.
Aunt May played by Betty White
Betty White may be America’s favorite 91 year old now, but in 1992 she was America’s favorite 70 year old, enjoying success in The Golden Girls and being generally awesome. She’s with it, and could easily put Wheaton’s Peter Parker in his place if the situation called for it (and likely it would).
J. Jonah Jameson played by Dabney Coleman
I actually had to search IMDb to see whether or not Dabney Coleman actually HAD played the Daily Bugle chief. It just makes too much sense for him not to – he can play angry, he’s got the mustache, he looks great in a three-piece suit, he probably enjoys smoking cigars. It’s perfect. It might be worth this whole thing being real just for a scene where Coleman chews out Wheaton.
If you can think of better people to play these characters (and I’m positive you can), let me know in the comments below. I’ll be back with more of these vintage fan casts later in this Marvellest of Weeks.