Considering Andrew Garfield’s age, if Sony was interested in keeping him as Peter Parker after the current trilogy comes to an end, it would make sense to film the next few Spider-Man movies back to back, either as a two-part saga or a trilogy. The Harry Potter and Twilight films have conditioned audiences to annual releases for these types of blockbuster adaptations, and Lionsgate has a similar approach coming for the rest of the Hunger Games saga, so there’s plenty of precedent for something like this. Unlike Fox, Disney and Warner Brothers, Sony doesn’t have as many concerns about flooding the superhero film market with an annual schedule, as they own one major superhero franchise. They do also have the rights to Venom, although I’d have to imagine a Spider-Man sequel would be a bigger deal than a Venom follow-up.
Considering how it’s possible to have another trilogy of Spider-Man films after the current one, there shouldn’t be any pressure to include more characters than necessary in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 or the conclusion of the current “origin” trilogy. There’s plenty of time to include top villains like Doctor Octopus and Kraven. The current options are based on several assumptions: that Venom will be one of two villains in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, that the Green Goblin will be the villain of The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and that Gwen Stacy will die at the end of the film.
The Black Cat VS Mary Jane
With Gwen Stacy dead, the Black Cat would be a potential romantic interest for Peter, as someone who isn’t a civilian and doesn’t particularly give a damn about Peter Parker. She could easily fit any story involving a crime war or Spider-Man being framed. In the comics, there was also a memorable battle between her and Doctor Octopus, so she could be incorporated into a film with that villain.
In the comics, Gwen’s death suggested that it was better if anyone involved with Peter knew what they were getting into. Her death in this film saga might suggest the opposite, that Peter should keep his identity secret, even from any woman that he could love, so that she could never be tempted to get involved in his duties as Spider-Man. Mary Jane could be in love with Peter. And while he likes her, he doesn’t want to endanger her life. So that could be part of their character arc. And there could be a romantic triangle with Mary Jane and the Black Cat, as one woman loves Peter Parker and the other prefers Spidey.
With Venom and the Green Goblin fitting the narrative for the next two films, that leaves Doctor Octopus as the remaining big three Spider-Man villain. Alfred Molina’s performance in Spider-Man 2 was fantastic, but it seemed to be more of a composite of several Spider-Man supervillains, with elements of the Jackal (a scientist who took Peter Parker under his wing) and even the Kingpin (doomed marriage). So there are new directions you could take the villain in the new Spider-Man films. A more pathetic approach, closer to the comics, could work, essentially a nightmare version of what Peter Parker could have grown up to become.
Perhaps this new menace would draw Spider-Man back into action after the death of Gwen Stacy. This arc might incorporate elements of the Master Planner saga, with Spider-Man fighting Doc Ock to save his Aunt May’s life.
Harry Osborn would be an especially difficult character to write because his revenge arc was so perfect in Spider-Man 2. As a result, I would try to go in a different direction. One narrative would be to follow the Ultimate comics in which Harry was manipulated by his imprisoned father into becoming a weapon against Spider-Man. It could also be interesting to have Harry become obsessed with understanding his father, ingesting the Goblin serum (or whatever causes Norman Osborn to gain powers) as part of the process. When the story ends, Harry would probably make the decision that he just isn’t cut out for life as either a superhero or a supervillain. He would make the choice to be an ordinary man, free of his father’s legacy.
The mystery of the Hobgoblin would be a possibility for a sequel, once the cast has grown large enough to allow for an interesting array of suspects. The set-up would simply be that someone has discovered a stash of Norman Osborn’s weapons, and used it to become a new masked villain, with a rational approach to supercrime. While Norman Osborn has forever been the Green Goblin, the Hobgoblin’s identity is slightly muddier, an advantage of the character’s convoluted history. He was introduced in 1983, and revealed to be a murdered member of the supporting cast in 1987, replaced by Jason Macendale, who took over the mantle until 1997, when it was Roderick Kinglsey was the Hobgoblin after all. And then someone else killed Kingsley in 2010, and took over the identity. So even the savviest comic fans wouldn’t know who is underneath the mask in the film adaptation.
If Norman Osborn’s still alive at the end of the saga, there’s always the possibility of a rematch between him and Spidey. Though with the Osborn mystery of the first few films, and Harry Osborn’s revenge saga in the original trilogy, it’s entirely possible that the audience wouldn’t be in the mood for new storylines involving the Goblins, even though it provides enough material for a new trilogy. Still, the Harry Potter series utilized Voldemort and his pals for eight films, so it may not be a concern.
The Rogues Gallery
There are a lot of fantastic Spider-Man villains, and not enough room for them in one trilogy or even two. So it’s simply a matter of figuring out which villains work for which stories. While there is the argument that the number of villains per film should be kept low, if the story is about Peter Parker being overwhelmed by his problems, a crime war between a dozen characters could be effective. Morbius could shine as a solo villain, a dark version of Peter Parker, whose powers are a curse and whose good intentions are no match for his hunger.
If several movies are filmed back to back, it makes sense to have characters appear in more than one movie, since the actors are already on the set. So instead of a succession of villains who just appear in one film each, you will likely have villains appearing in several. Which suggests that it would make sense to have an overarching story.
This may be antithetical to the solo villain approach, although The Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 both balanced the larger arc with one primary bad guy. Marvel would have a handful of choices for their big bad. Norman Osborn’s legacy would be one possibility, with an arc about Peter getting over Gwen’s death. Doctor Octopus may have appeared in more stories than any other Spider-Man villain, so he should be able to carry a trilogy. A crime war arc could also work. If Sony comes to the conclusion that they should wait before reintroducing Venom, the alien costume could be spread out over several films, with the first film introducing the black costume, the second film showcasing Venom and the finale featuring Carnage.
That said, at the moment I’m leaning towards someone else as the villain best-suited to support 2-3 films.