What does the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe hold? That's the question every fan is asking now that Avengers: Endgame has come and gone, and Spider-Man: Far From Home is just around the corner. For Marvel Studios' first three phases, we've known where the overarching storyline would lead. Phase Four, on the other hand, is aquestion mark. But now, it's possible we may have an idea of what will be in store for this next wave of films.
A recent report suggests Marvel may be in the process of casting a major comic book villain for its cinematic universe: codenamed "The Benefactor" in the casting call, it's rumored this character is actually Norman Osborn, also known as the Spider-Man villain Green Goblin. The thing is, the character breakdown has only just surfaced, which means the casting process likely hasn't even begun. With Spider-Man: Far From Home only three weeks away from release, it's highly unlikely this is where we will see the character.
Therefore, if Osborn truly is this mysterious Benefactor, then he is likely being introduced in another film as a major, overarching villain in Phase Four of the MCU. Of course, as the Marvel Universe is filled with mad scientists who turn into supervillains, Osborn isn't necessarily needed.
However, there is still a certain appeal to Osborn that sets him apart from other Marvel villains. While the MCU may not need the character, he would be a welcome addition.
A KEY MARVEL PRESENCE
Norman Osborn is an undeniably important figure in the Spider-Man mythos, inside and outside of Marvel comics. The character has appeared in most (if not all) of the wall-crawler's animated series. Plus, thanks to his inclusion in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies as well as in Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man series, general audiences are already well aware of the character. More than that, it's likely that everyone is also familiar with his origin and fall to villainy as the Green Goblin.
In fact, the character has been arguably overused in recent years, which is perhaps one of the reasons the MCU opted to favor villains we had never seen on the big screen before in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home. But, now that we are heading into year twelve of the MCU, and brand new territory at that, the time is right. Norman Osborn is such an important part of the Spider-Man and the wider Marvel Universe that he can't be absent for much longer.
NODS TO OSBORN IN THE MCU
Norman Osborn is a big deal, plain and simple. Comic book fans know the length his shadow stretches over the lives of Spider-Man and the Avengers. For that reason, this is far from being the first time the supervillain has been rumored to be introduced in the MCU. Almost as soon as Peter Parker joined the cast of Captain America: Civil War, speculation began to pop up as to how the villain could be introduced in the cinematic universe.
Some believe that Osborn is actually the mysterious buyer behind the sale of Avengers Tower in Spider-Man: Homecoming and that his identity -- at least in name only -- could be revealed in the sequel.
On top of that, the character codenamed "The Benefactor" was actually mentioned by Sonny Burch in Ant-Man and the Wasp as the person looking to purchase Hank Pym's Quantum lab for a billion dollars. Some fans began to wonder if this wealthy buyer could be Norman Osborn, and now, with the Benefactor in the process of being cast, these claims have only gotten more plausible.
MASTER MANIPULATOR, DARK AVENGER
You may be more familiar with the character's Green Goblin persona than his civilian one but make no mistake, Norman Osborn is just as frightening and dangerous out of his green and purple costume as he is in it. When he puts on his business suit, Osborn is a different kind of force. He is a master manipulator who can make the Avengers' life a living hell with only his words and influence. Such was the case during Marvel's Dark Reign, which saw Osborn assume the top position of power as the new head of S.H.I.E.L.D (which he rebranded as H.A.M.M.E.R).
After getting himself to the right place at the right time, Osborn became a hero in the public's eye, and he used that to turn the people against the Avengers. Secretly, he also created his own team, the Dark Avengers, to hunt down the outlawed superheroes. What's more, he suited up as the Iron Patriot, to become the worlds' new Iron Man.
If this sounds like something that could easily happen in the MCU's Phase Four, that's because all the pieces could easily fall into place -- and it would make for a fascinating new status quo.
THE APPEAL OF OSBORNE
Norman Osborn isn't just an iconic Marvel villain, he's also a fascinating character with plenty of depth. Sure, he's driven by anger and mania, but he's also human -- something that Marvel excels at balancing. A Lex Luthor type who has a strong, commanding presence. When he's in a room, he demands control, and that's before he shows his true colors. He may not have any cosmic powers, but he's still incredibly dangerous. Worse still, when he's in the general public's good graces, he can't simply be brought down with a fist-fight.
And, that's just Norman outside of his Green Goblin costume. Let's not forget that he's the one who murdered Gwen Stacy and the one who bonded with the Carnage symbiote to try and kill Spider-Man once and for all. But, the truth of the matter is, what the current MCU needs isn't the Green Goblin, the cackling, pumpkin bomb-throwing villain -- it's Norman Osborn, the manipulative tycoon.
It's likely that, like Spider-Man, the cinematic rights to Norman belong to Sony. But then again, the studio has shown that it is more than willing to share some of its characters with Marvel. If Sony wants to use the Green Goblin, that's fine. All the MCU needs is Norman Osborn -- father, businessman and Dark Avenger. A different kind of villain for a bold new era.
Opening July 2, director Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Far From Home stars Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon and Martin Starr, with Marisa Tomei and Jake Gyllenhaal.