There’s gonna be a lot of Spider-Man over the next few years. Obviously he’ll be getting more MCU screentime and hey! Apparently a new live-action series as well maybe!
So it is perhaps inevitable that Spider-Man’s greatest enemy, the Green Goblin, will pop up at some point. Lemme tell you about him. GG is much more frightening when he’s Norman Osborn. Norman Osborn is a power-hungry abusive misogynist with weird hair, almost like… you know… someone else. (Yes, Marvel really did kindasorta call it. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so depressing.) Woman-hating is built into his character, and was ever since he threw Gwen Stacy off that bridge.
So, what actors can pull off the Goblin’s particular brand of villainy? Obviously Willem Dafoe did it first and he did a great job. But try as I might I can’t quite see him as the casually demonic Norman of the 21st century Spider-Man comics. This ultra-manipulative bastard right here.
But you know who I think could pull it off? Bradley Whitford.
I’ve been watching him every Sunday in The Handmaid’s Tale and I’m constantly impressed by him. I keep seeing him in things now and damn, he is really good at being evil. But perhaps more importantly he’s good at being quietly evil. The sort of evil you don’t fully understand until it has its hands around your neck, which is exactly what Norman is.
But, I hear you say, Bradley Whitford doesn’t… actually look like that anymore. He got older and the Osborn-like red hair is gone. Well, yes. That’s true, and it’s rather unfortunate that it’s true because West Wing-era Whitford would have been pretty close to the character physically.
Obviously that’s not neccessarily a problem since Marvel is spookily good at de-aging their actors via CGI, but I reckon that 59-year-old Whitford could still do an incredibly good job. I mean I don’t know about you but to me this picture alone has major “I’m totally going to kill Spider-Man” vibes.
And if all the above hasn’t convinced you here are 20 seconds of Whitford being completely pissing terrifying in Get Out (a film I haven’t actually seen because I’m too scared, but I have at this point seen enough clips of it to be able to hold a conversation about the plot:)
Which leads in neatly to the other thing about Norman: his privilege. Dude is privileged on almost every axis: race, class, wealth. And boy, does he know it and boy is he not interested in discussing it.
And that’s something else Whitford can act very well.
So that’s my pitch! And don’t worry, I have considered the question, “No matter how good an actor he is, isn’t Bradley Whitford going to look pretty silly in a bright green goblin mask?” The answer is, if current events have proved anything, I don’t think the character really needs a mask anymore.