In a time of financial hardship, Marvel Entertainment made the decision to sell the film rights of their most popular characters. Poor old Spider-Man ended up at Sony Pictures, and while the first two movies starring the wall-crawler were a rousing success, three more would follow which did nothing but disappoint fans. Ghost Rider also ended up at the studio and he didn't even get one good outing.
Looking back over these seven movies, it's clear that the studio has dropped the ball on many of the greatest characters who call the worlds of Ghost Rider and Spider-Man home. From supporting players to fan-favourite heroes and villains, what you'll find here is a look at the eight comic book characters Sony Pictures let down in such a bad way that it's almost tough to imagine them ever being redeemed.
8. The Rhino
Jamie Foxx's laughable take on Electro was bad enough, but what Marc Webb was thinking when he wasted Paul Giamatti as this horribly unfunny version of The Rhino is hard to say. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 turned the talented actor into a cartoon caricature, with his hideous over the top Russian accent and rhino themed underwear coming off as more embarrassing than entertaining.
While a large mechanical suit was probably more realistic than him wearing an actual Rhino costume, that too was pretty poorly designed and actually meant we lost one of the character's most interesting facets as he obviously wasn't trapped inside of it. Throw in the fact that the movie ended before we could even see him in action, and it's fair to say that this fan-favourite villain was let down in a major way here.
7. Danny Ketch
The Danny Ketch version of Ghost Rider may not be as popular as Johnny Blaze, but he still deserved better than this. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was an abomination, but making Danny a McGuffin was unforgivable. Throw in the fact that he was pretty much a walking cliche as stereotypical movie kids go, and there was nothing here to get fans excited despite Neveldine/Taylor's attempts to set the stage for him to possibly take over the mantle somewhere down the line.
Having Danny show up here as a child though meant that they missed a golden opportunity to have two versions of Ghost Rider on the big screen at the same time, and I think it's fair to say that most of us had probably forgotten Danny was even in the movie until now! With Robbie Reyes in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., who knows when this hero will get his due.
6. Flash Thompson
Spider-Man's Flash Thompson was just a generic bully, while The Amazing Spider-Man's take was every bit as forgettable and disappointing. Much of this can be blamed on Sony failing to give Peter Parker a supporting cast outside of his aunt, girlfriends, and sole best friend, but neither Joe Manganiello nor Chris Zylka were able to elevate the bland material they were given to deliver something interesting in these movies.
In the comics, the relationship between Peter and Flash is pretty fascinating (especially as they later become close friends and the latter even takes over the Venom mantle), but these movies failed to touch on any of that. When you look at how Spider-Man: Homecoming has seemingly cast the character, chances are that the third time won't be the charm for Flash.
5. Peter Parker
While an argument could be made that Sam Raimi never quite got Spider-Man right (where were the wisecracks?), his Peter Parker was definitely spot on thanks to the likeable Tobey Maguire. For Andrew Garfield, his wall-crawler was a lot closer to the comic books, but his Peter...well, he was an unlikeable tool. Whether it was treating his uncle like crap, stalking his girlfriend, or being an all round hipster douche, this Peter was wrong on so many levels.
Spending time with him was a chore, and one of the biggest problems here was the fact that Marc Webb made his Spider-Man so "cool." Unlike the comic book version of the character, Peter wasn't a nerd or a social outcast; he was an expert skateboarder dating the hottest girl in school. In an attempt to update the wall-crawler, what makes him special was lost.
4. Ghost Rider
I touched on Danny Ketch, but let's not forget that Johnny Blaze was also handled horribly by Sony across his two critically panned movies. The first instalment was generic and bland, and while the sequel tried to be a little more stylised and edgy, that ultimately boiled down to the Spirit of Vengeance taking a fiery p*ss in the bushes. The studio's biggest mistake was casting Nicolas "I'll star in anything" Cage as a character he was a good decade too old to play, and he sticks out like a sore thumb in both of these movies.
One area in which they didn't disappoint was with Ghost Rider's appearance (it's pretty tough to get a fiery skull wrong though in all honesty), but the movies still never properly delved into his abilities or the mythology surrounding his abilities despite some half hearted attempts to do so by wasting Mephisto.
3. Harry Osborn
The first two Spider-Man movies did a pretty great job with Harry Osborn. Sure, things went horribly wrong in the third instalment when he went nuts and started flying around on a snowboard, but James Franco did a great job even with that lame material. The Amazing Spider-Man 2's Dane DeHaan on the other hand did not fare so well.
Despite impressing in Chronicle, his performance here was horrible from start to finish. Harry's rushed story arc saw him become a Green Goblin with frizzy white hair, some weird scars, and a set of false teeth which made DeHaan sound like he was reeling off his lines with a mouthful of food. Having Harry become the Goblin before his father Norman was another pathetic attempt by this franchise to stand out from what came before, but it completely missed the point of what motivates this villain as a result.
2. Doctor Octopus
Some of you will no doubt be upset to see Doctor Octopus here, especially as there's no denying that he was a great villain in arguably one of the best superhero movies ever released. However, as fantastic as Alfred Molina was in the role, he wasn't the pudgy and sadistic scientist desperate for power from the comic books. Instead, he was really just an innocent victim of a terrible accident which left him slightly unhinged and under the control of his four metal arms.
Don't get me wrong, Otto Octavius was far from innocent, but the villain being given an excuse for his actions completely nullified his most important personalty trait; his ego. As a result, his hatred for Spider-Man didn't feel quite as believable as it should have, while him sacrificing himself was also something of a questionable moment.
Who else did you expect to see here? Spider-Man 3 was a massive disappointment, but by far its biggest failing was the way it handled the big screen debut of beloved villain Venom. Topher Grace was completely miscast, while the threequel rushing through everything from the symbiote's arrival on Earth to Eddie Brock's transformation and plan to kill Spider-Man stunk of the character being a last minute addition shoehorned in by clueless producers and studio execs in a bid to drive up ticket sales.
Sam Raimi didn't even want the character in Spider-Man 3, and it shows. Amazingly, the movie didn't really even get his appearance right as he was far from the hulking brute who so easily overpowered Spider-Man in the comic books. Throw in the fact he was killed off, and it's hard to imagine how Venom could have been handled any worse.
Which of these characters do you think has been wasted in the worst way in Sony's Marvel movies? As always, be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.