Franchise building is an inevitable component of the modern summer blockbuster. Thank Marvel and their interwoven comic book movie world, which finally paid off in the form of The Avengers' $600 million and counting at the domestic box office. But with The Amazing Spider-Man, fan service "ZOMG" bombs have officially passed the event horizon. Easter eggs, foreshadowing, and mysterious narrative threads can be assets to storytelling — callbacks being one of the sweetest forms of narrative pay-offs. But Spider-Man takes it to a new level with its baffling conclusion.
After a fantastic final sequence featuring Spider-Man swinging and twisting and being the kinetic hero we know and love, Amazing Spider-Man transitions into some credits before cutting back into footage. The scene features Rhys Ifans as Curt Connors, aka The Lizard, incarcerated for his diabolical plan to turn all of New York into reptiles (in case you were unaware, this is what all lizards what to do to the human race). Then comes the twist: Dr. Connors isn't alone in his cell… as one might expect in a high-security prison strong enough to house a dude who can transform into a nine-foot tall lizard creature. No, there's a shadowy figure on the other side of the room...
Did you tell him about his father?
Was that a British accent? Southern? What was he doing with this hands? Is he actually a Catholic priest? We never get a glimpse of the mysterious figure, but his words tease a bigger picture to Spider-Man's story. Was this the same voice Connors was hearing while wrestling the beast within? Very possible – it's easy with the events of 2002's Spider-Man to assume that The Lizard is hearing his own manipulative voice, but who knows what puppeteer may have been orchestrating Connors' descent into mental hell.
The main problem with The Amazing Spider-Man's tease is that it isn't one. Anyone privy to the marketing machine for the film knew there was going to be some major information revealed about Spider-Man's parents — trailers touted "The Untold Story!". But besides an intro featuring his parents fleeing their home (why? To be revealed!) and Curt Connors' occupational connection to Peter's Dad, the movie doesn't dive into said untold story. So when a hidden cameo pops up at the end, the audience is left wondering: Who the heck is that!?
That said, there are extrapolated conclusions one could project onto the scene. The obvious connection is Norman Osborn head of the company that employed both Connors and Richard Parker. In the comics and in 2002's Spider-Man, Osborn goes on to become The Green Goblin. In Amazing Spider-Man, Osborn is referenced as being in bad shape health-wise, desperately in need of Connors' regenerative breakthrough to survive. Did he take some early tests? If so, how did he get of bed and make it into Connors' jail cell? Or is the figure we see a manifestation of Connors' mind, being manipulated off-site by Osborn? Anything's possible. Mostly because the movie doesn't offer any answers.
One possibility for future installments that seems 100 percent impossible is the return of Irrfan Khan's Rajit Ratha. The short but sweet role featured Khan as Osborn's right-hand man who pressures Curt Connors to speed up the genetics testing and who spiced up the film's long stretches of exposition with theatrical flare. The Slumdog Millionaire actor certainly deserves a starring villain role, and Amazing Spider-Man 2 could be the opportunity. Introduced as a slimy businessman, revealed as the true evil-doer in the sequel — it's kinda sorta all set up in the first movie. When it was announced that Khan was joining the cast way back in 2010, he was rumored to play "Van Adder," a character whom Osborn used as a test subject. He was transformed into Proto-Gobin, a big, red baddie primed and ready for Spider-Man battle. Was he lurking in the shadows of Curt Connors' prison? As the man looked tall and white... probably not.
Unless you deconstruct the Amazing Spider-Man mid-credits scene to its very last strand of DNA, you won't find any real answers. (Or will you? Do tell.) That's unfortunate, because Spider-Man's world has the potential to be as weird and complicated as Iron Man's, Thor's, or Captain America's (all who saw amazing end credits sequences that fed directly into the subsequent movies). The producers of The Amazing Spider-Man hinted to Hollywood.com that they plan on keeping their upcoming Venom movie (another in-no-way-related-to-the-previous-on-screen-incarnation adaptation) in the world of ASM. So there's a desire to have a web (ha!) of a story developed in Amazing Spider-Man's universe — but so far, the storytellers aren't off to a good start. Then again, maybe that creep in the shadows was Venom, who is actually the illegitimate son of Peter Parker's Dad. In which case, all is forgiven.
Now it's your turn: What the heck happened in that last scene? Comic book diehards, I turn to you. Let the speculation begin!
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]