We think everyone was probably pretty curious when we heard that Jamie Foxx was playing Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and no, not just because the electricity-powered supervillain Max Dillon is usually portrayed as a white guy. Mostly, we're curious why this particular supervillain is taking the main stage when so many other prominent villains – like the heavily foreshadowed Green Goblin – were taking a back seat. In the comics, Electro was an electrician who got hit by lightning and developed electrical powers. How are they going to make such an arbitrary figure intriguing to modern audiences?
Jamie Foxx discussed Amazing Spider-Man 2's take on the character to Entertainment Tonight and shed some light on the character. Not much light, mind you. "I think Electro will be an exciting character to play because he's a [...] genius electrician-type person, and he gets the short end of the stick from the whole world, and the next thing you know he turns it on."
While the expression "genius electrician-type person" doesn't give us much hope, the rest of Foxx's statement could bode well for the film. The best Spider-Man villains, in his movies at least, have represented a darker version of how Peter Parker could live his life. In the first Spider-Man, the Green Goblin embraced the opposite of the hero's selfless philosophy, and sought only personal gain at the expense of others. In Spider-Man 2, Doctor Octopus's overwhelming sense of responsibility to use his genius for the good of others blinded him to the way his actions actually hurt people, much like Peter Parker's sense of responsibility to New York City was destroying his relationship with his family.
If Electro is a character whom the world dumps on, who then acquires superpowers and lashes out destructively, it would create a strong parallel to a superhero who often feels the same way, that the world is out to get him. His parents were taken away, his uncle was murdered, he's at the center of a vast conspiracy at OsCorp, he can't be with his girlfriend because of a promise to her dying father. Here's a guy whose uncle was murdered and lashed out at every criminal in New York City, blindly and viciously. Seeing that kind of behavior in a supervillain could potentially respond to many of the complaints about Peter Parker's portrayal in the first Amazing Spider-Man, that he was kind of a douchebag who never actually accepted the credo (not that it was ever spoken out loud) that "with great power comes great responsibility."
Electro could be the villain who gets him on track to being the Spider-Man many of his fans know, love and prefer, without denying the new cinematic version of Spider-Man that is currently being accepted and appreciated by everyone else. Hopefully that's the philosophy Marc Webb is taking with his new sequel. If so, we can't wait to see it, even if the first film left us cold.