Could Spider-Man: No Way Home Redeem The Lizard?

All of those elements were there from the jump with the Lizard, which makes their absence in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man all the more baffling. Despite the studio apparently championing the villain as being the next foe in their fourth Spider-Man movie—to the point where it became apparently one of many disagreements with director Sam Raimi who was fixated on doing a Vulture movie back in the late 2000s—the finished product showed a genuine lack of comprehension about what made the character one of Spider-Man’s great foes.

Through no fault of actor Rhys Ifans, who plays Dr. Curt Connors as serviceably as possible from the thin screenplay he was provided, that film robs the Lizard of the character’s tragedy or even a hint of pathos: gone are Connors’ wife and son, as well as his tragic war backstory. In fact, Connors is a fairly shady individual in the film with vague connections to the deaths of Peter Parker’s parents. In other words, he’s a stock mad scientist, who neither Peter or the audience has much reason to sympathize with.

Additionally, the design of the character was nearly every bit as atrocious as the Power Rangers costume Dafoe got stuck with a decade earlier as the Green Goblin. While The Amazing Spider-Man filmmakers apparently chose to honor the flatter facial design of Ditko’s initial concept of the Lizard, they nonetheless removed other key elements of Ditko’s design which made the character so visually appealing: aspects like the shredded lab coat which belied the character’s lost humanity, and created a striking visual contrast to the green scaly look. Which is to say, without the white cloak, he looks a bit like a shrunken Godzilla running around town, with the ugly face of those misbegotten Goomba designs from the Super Mario Bros. movie.

As with the unwise choice of redesigning Spider-Man’s costume to better resemble a basketball in that movie, these poor choices made the Lizard look visually goofy and poorly thought out. When one contrasts this with how the character has been more or less drawn since the 1970s, including famously by Venom co-creator Todd McFarlane, who made the Lizard look like a demonic viper in human clothing, the ineptness of the cinematic Lizard becomes a failure on every level.

Admittedly, it’s unlikely Curt Connors’ motivations can be saved in Spider-Man: No Way Home. With One More Day fallout left to be resolved from Spider-Man: Far From Home’s cliffhanger ending, the multiverse needing to be set-up for audiences who don’t watch every Disney+ series, Doctor Strange fan service to squeeze in, and, oh yeah, the rest of the Sinister Six to reintroduce—including cinematic high points like Dafoe’s Goblin and especially Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock—there probably isn’t a lot of room for the cinematic also-rans of Lizard, Jamie Foxx’s Electro, and Thomas Hayden Church’s Sandman.

However, at least two of those became “also-rans” because of poor choices made by other filmmakers. Marvel Studios has had much better luck in interpreting Spidey villains to the screen than The Amazing Spider-Man duology, if still not on the level of Molina or Dafoe’s contributions. In the same way they turned a questionable concept like old man Adrian Toomes into a Michael Keaton showcase in Spider-Man: Homecoming, they could also reimagine the Lizard, and even Electro, into cooler characters that younger fans who never read the comics might actually care about this time. At the very least, they can give Lizzy his coat. And maybe just make him Dylan Baker’s Dr. Connors, who despite only appearing as a supporting character in Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy, already had more gravitas and sympathy than whatever the hell The Amazing Spider-Man was up to.

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