Jamie Foxx is reprising his role as Electro in the upcoming Spider-Man 3, but his surprise return might have to do with the cancelled Sinister Six.
Jamie Foxx surprised fans when he announced that he is reprising his role as Electro for Spider-Man 3, but a pre-existing contract with Sony might be the real reason for the actor's return. Foxx first portrayed Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony's last independent Spider-Man movie before making a deal with Marvel Studios to share the character. The Amazing Spider-Man was supposed to introduce an extended Spider-Man universe for Sony, but the box office failure of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 resulted in the cancellation of all subsequent projects.
Sony first acquired the rights to Spider-Man in the 1990s, when Marvel Comics was facing bankruptcy and began selling the film rights to its iconic characters. With the rights to the character contingent on making a movie every five years, they subsequently produced Sam Raimi's successful Spider-Man trilogy. Plans for a fourth Spider-Man movie helmed by Sam Raimi fell apart, and the franchise was rebooted with The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012 so that Sony could continue to meet their deadline and retain the rights to the character.
The commercial failure of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 led directly to Sony's historic deal with Marvel Studios that allowed Spider-Man to be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but still permitted Sony to produce standalone films starring the character. As a result of that deal, a third reboot starring Tom Holland in the Sony film Spider-Man: Homecoming was released in 2017. The new Spider-Man focused universe was intended to be a complete reboot from The Amazing Spider-Man, making Foxx's announcement that he was reprising his role even more shocking - unless the actor was still under contract for the canceled The Amazing Spider-Man movies, and Sony took the opportunity to re-option his contract and bring him back.
Sony Was Planning Further Spider-Man Movies After The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The Amazing Spider-Man was originally intended to be the first film in an extended Spider-Man universe for Sony. Before the premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, release dates for two more sequels and the Sinister Six spinoff had already been announced, with actors reportedly in talks for the films. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a franchise low at the box office, and release dates for the subsequent films were delayed - including The Amazing Spider-Man 3, which had already confirmed the return of all major actors. Following Sony's partnership with Marvel Studios, all of The Amazing Spider-Man films were officially canceled.
Jamie Foxx's Electro Likely Would've Returned For Sony's Sinister Six Movie
Sony's Sinister Six movie was expected to include Jamie Foxx's Electro, who told Total Film in a 2013 interview that, "they actually talked about it, the Sinister Six. So, finger's crossed because, when you think about it, electricity never dies. It just goes to a different place." Foxx went on to publicly disclose his hopes for Sinister Six and his anticipated inclusion in the film, where he likely would have been joined by fellow The Amazing Spider-Man 2 villains: Rhino (Paul Giamatti), Harry Osborn/Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), and Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper). The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also teased future appearances from future Spider-Man villains the Vulture and The Gentleman. There's a good chance that Jamie Foxx's Electro would have made an additional appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man 3 along with Paul Giamatti's Rhino, who previously confirmed his participation in the film.
Are Sony's Existing Spider-Man Contracts The Reason For MCU Castings?
Although the rebooted Spider-Man movies are in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they are still Sony films. Jamie Foxx was already under contract with Sony for the remaining The Amazing Spider-Man projects before the cancellation of the franchise. If Sony already had Foxx under contract, re-optioning his contract for an appearance as Electro in Spider-Man 3 is easier than recasting the role entirely.
Jamie Foxx couldn't be a better choice for Sony to play Electro under his existing Spider-Man contract. Foxx was already a marketable action star when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was released, but his career has only grown since; recently Foxx had an award-winning turn in the film Just Mercy and he is the lead in Pixar's upcoming animated film Soul. More importantly, Jamie Foxx just signed a major overall deal with Sony Pictures, where he and his producing partner Datari Turner will be developing and producing feature films (via Deadline). The timing of Foxx's Sony deal with his sudden reprisal of Electro is too close to be a coincidence and implies that Foxx likely negotiated the development deal as a condition of his return to complete his unfinished Spider-Man contract.
Which Other Amazing Spider-Man Characters Could Return
Other than Jamie Foxx's Electro, Sony's Sinister Six film was expected to bring back other characters from The Amazing Spider-Man movies - and now they might have their opportunity to bring them back in future Spider-Man films. A major option would be bringing back Chris Cooper, who was introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as Norman Osborn. Director Marc Webb confirmed to Den of Geek in 2017 that, "Chris Cooper was going to come back and play the Goblin... he was going to come out and lead the Sinister Six." With no official Marvel Cinematic Universe of the Green Goblin, Spider-Man 3 would be a great opportunity to bring Chris Cooper back as the character that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 only hinted at.
Although Sinister Six was also expected to bring back Paul Giamatti as Rhino, he will likely not be making an appearance in the new Spider-Man films. Dane DeHaan could reprise his role as Harry Osborn, The Amazing Spider-Man 2's Green Goblin, who was rumored to turn into Venom in a future iteration of Sony's franchise (although that role has been taken over by Tom Hardy in Venom, who might also make an appearance in a future Spider-Man film.) Rhys Ifans was expected to reprise his role was Lizard from The Amazing Spider-Man, as well a Michael Massee as The Gentleman for the Sinister Six. Although the Vulture was rumored to be a part of Sinister Six as well, the villain is already in the rebooted Spider-Man series and is played by Michael Keaton in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
It wouldn't be unusual for past Spider-Man actors to make a return in Spider-Man 3, as Sony is breaking all Marvel logic and Jamie Foxx is not the first past Spider-Man actor to appear in the rebooted franchise. He was preceded by J.K. Simmons, who appeared in the mid-credits scene of Spider-Man: Far From Home as a version of his character from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies: J. Jonah Jameson. Sony's universe crossed paths with Marvel's yet again when Michael Keaton's Vulture appeared in the trailer for Morbius, which was previously thought to be only a part of Sony's separate universe. Simmons and Foxx's participation in the new iteration of Spider-Man opens the door for other past actors to return as well, including the rest of the actors still contracted with Sony for the canceled The Amazing Spider-Man films.
Jamie Foxx's surprise return as Electro in Spider-Man 3 is a signal that Sony is open to integrating past actors into their rebooted franchise. There's a strong possibility that Sony still has multiple actors under contract following the cancellation of the planned The Amazing Spider-Man extended universe, and it makes sense for the studio to re-option those contracts going forward. Jamie Foxx's sudden return to the franchise and his newly announced development deal with Sony indicates that a pre-existing contract is the likeliest explanation for Electro's return in Spider-Man 3.