It's time to stop pretending that The Amazing Spider-Man was a reboot for creative reasons. It's time to accept that the series was rebooted so that Sony could kick any and all highly paid participants off the production and not have to worry about incurring producer costs. A rebooted Amazing Spider-Man ended up being really expensive (2nd most expensive in the series, 4th grossing), but Spider-Man 4, even with new actors and a new director, would have cost way, way more.
When you realize that it should come as no surprise that Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be reintroducing Mary Jane Watson and Harry Osborn. The trend of this reboot series will be to take everything right back to where it was the first time around; while Peter Parker's character was mangled in Amazing that wasn't a creative decision, it was sheer incompetence*.
This isn't a problem for me - it's business. I think the worst of Raimi's films captured the character and world of Spider-Man better than Marc Webb's movie, but I understand the cold, cynical reasons why that movie exists. And because I never bought into the idea that this was some sort of truly fresh start, I have no problem with the sequel bringing in characters who were fully, completely and exhaustively examined in the previous trilogy. Because this is all just the same thing over again, without anybody mailing checks to Sam Raimi.
According to Variety Shailene Woodley, who was amazing in The Descendants, is in talks to star as Mary Jane. Nobody has been cast as Harry yet. The paper also reveals that Electro is likely to be the villain. That's actually irritating for a very nerdy reason - it's likely that Electro was chosen because of the garbled 'cameo' at the end of Amazing. The mysterious figure was so mysterious even the filmmakers didn't know who he was - they just included him because you include cameos at the end of your superhero movies these days. Some people online became convinced he was Electro, since he disappeared (off screen) when lightning flashed. The problem is that Electro doesn't do that, but try telling that to people who know nothing about Spider-Man and think Raimi's films are bad. Anyway, if Electro IS the villain, it's probably because everybody online said that was him in the last film. The blind leading the blind.
Woodley's a good actress, but I have to admit I would like to have seen her as Gwen and Emma Stone as MJ. I wonder how Woodley will stand up to Stone's immense screen presence. It's especially interesting because Gwen Stacy was always the boring character; MJ was the breath of fresh air after Peter dated the too perfect, too dull Gwen. Can Woodley outshine Stone?
With the introduction of Harry it seems clear that Norman Osborn will finally appear in this film, and I'd lay money on him being Green Goblin in film three. He may even be Green Goblin in this film; Variety says Electro could be 'one of' the villains.
On the one hand it's tough to make a Spider-Man movie removed from these characters (which is one of the reasons why the reboot feels so unnecessary). On the other it would be nice to see Webb and writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci actually mine some of Spidey's less well-known lore. Poor Betty Brant, Peter's first girlfriend, keeps getting the shaft in the movies.
Maybe Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be good. I'd love that to be the case. One thing it will have going for it: I'll walk in knowing that it won't be breaking any new ground.
* There is no way that anyone with any understanding of Peter's character has him deliver the 'The best promises are the ones you break" line at the end of the movie.