Why Jamie Foxx’s Electro Deserved Better
Jamie Foxx is an accomplished actor who has won numerous awards for his performances. He has portrayed a wide range of characters, including Ray Charles in the biopic Ray, comedic roles in Horrible Bosses, and even featured as a rapper in Pitbull’s album Planet Pit. Foxx is a multi-talented performer, and his fans were thrilled when he was announced to play the iconic villain Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
However, the response to the movie was underwhelming compared to past Spider-Man titles. Foxx’s portrayal of Electro was criticized, with many unfavorably comparing him to Jim Carrey’s Riddler in Batman Forever. Several years later, rumors circulated that Spider-Man: No Way Home would bring back Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, as well as popular villains from each franchise, including Foxx’s Electro. The news was confirmed, but the film failed to cultivate its catalog of villains, including Electro.
Electro is an essential character in the Spider-Verse since his first appearance in 1964’s The Amazing Spider-Man #9. He is a member of several supervillain groups and has fought against several superheroes, including Daredevil and The Fantastic Four. Foxx’s performance as Electro was in line with his previous acting roles, from Django Unchained and Ray to Just Mercy. His character is a man of circumstance who builds himself up from humble origins as a line worker to a supervillain.
No Way Home was successful, but Foxx’s Electro had to compete with iconic antagonists from two other eras, which limited the impact of his return. The writing and direction given to Foxx were not as strong in comparison, and the lack of significant screen time left audiences with the impression that he was not an important character.
Foxx’s reprisal was improved to an extent, and his powers were retooled to better coincide with his presence in the comics. His costume design was, unfortunately, underwhelming, and the film failed to offer much of an improved wardrobe upon his return.
While Foxx’s return was intended to be a redemption for Electro, Marvel Studios had finally been granted access to use the character in a larger role. However, this did not translate, and there should have been more effort to reboot the character from a new point of view. The second chance felt like an apology from Sony and Marvel after their disastrous first attempt to bring Electro into the universe.
In conclusion, Foxx’s Electro is an essential character in the Spider-Verse, and his future holds much potential. Marvel Studios should make a more significant effort to reboot the character and provide him with a specific angle or purpose that would contribute to his growth. Electro deserves a stand-alone arc to fulfill his redemption, and his character could be developed further to make him a more significant player in the Spider-Man franchise.
Jamie Foxx is a multi-award-winning performer whose screen credits range from playing Ray Charles in the biopic Ray to laugh-out-loud comedies like Horrible Bosses and even working alongside director Quentin Tarantino for the hit film Django Unchained to being a featured rapper in Pitbull’s album Planet Pit. Foxx is a multilevel talent, and fans were undoubtedly excited when he was announced to be playing the iconic villain Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Updated June 12, 2023: If you’re a fan of Electro and The Sinister Six, then you’ll be happy to know that this article was recently updated to include more about them by Amanda Minchin.
Responses to the movie, however, were underwhelming compared to the reputation of past Spider-Man titles. Foxx’s Electro was a particular point of criticism, with many comparing him unfavorable to Jim Carrey’s Riddler in Batman Forever. Nearly a decade later, rumors spread that 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home would not only bring back Spider-Man veterans Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, but it would also reintroduce popular villains from each franchise. This news was soon confirmed with the announcement that Foxx would team up with Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock and Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, though rumors of the former Spider-Men’s reappearance were left unsettled until the film’s release.
In many ways, No Way Home was both a sentimental and cinematic success. The film went on to break box office records and successfully bridged the gap between the three eras of Spider-Men. While there is plenty to celebrate about the cultural event that is No Way Homeone aspect that this film and the ones before it failed to cultivate were its catalogs of villains, including that of Foxx’s character, Electro.
What is Electro’s Role in the Spider-Verse?
The character Foxx played is certainly no one to sneeze at. Electro has been an indelible part of the Spider-Verse ever since his first appearance in 1964’s The Amazing Spider-Man #9. He’s a card-carrying member of several supervillain groups, from the Emissaries of Evil (of which he served as both founder and leader) to the Frightful Four and the Sinister Six, the latter of which is led by familiar face Doc Ock. While he does fight other heroes, including Daredevil and The Fantastic Four, as well as meet up with villains like Magneto, his first true tête-à-tête was with Spidey. Electro might just be his deadliest foe.
Superpowers aside, the role of Electro is dramatically speaking in line with several of Foxx’s acting roles, from Django Unchained and Ray to Just Mercy. From his humble origins as a line worker to mounting attacks against the best of Marvel’s superhero elite, Max Dillon, aka Electro, is a man of circumstance who builds himself up. His background is as an everyman who turns to a life of crime after a freak lightning accident forces him to steal to survive… with not a random eel tank in sight.
While the fan service was welcome, squeezing him in alongside staple film villain Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and attempting to rectify the mistake by doing it again with even more villains in No Way Home was nothing short of a disservice to this long-standing character.
Electro Shouldn’t Have Had to Compete for Screen Time
No Way Home was a successful crossover event that was enough to satisfy Marvel’s new multiverse plan. Despite its massive size and ambitious plot, the Spider-Man consolidation was impressively able to avoid feeling overstuffed. Still, the high volumes of heroes, villains, and everyone in between made the sacrifice of limited screen time inevitable. Foxx’s Electro was forced to compete with iconic antagonists from two other eras, which limited the impact of his return. Every moment spent with Electro would have needed to be just as memorable in order to compete.
Unfortunately, the writing and direction given to Foxx were not as strong in comparison. While the filmmakers certainly improved the character by letting Foxx reimagine the character as a more suave and sarcastic villain, the fact remains that audiences had less attachment to his Electro than Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock or Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Electro’s standouts in the film were mostly thrown-away one-liners or simple pieces of dialogue. This lack of significant screen time left audiences with a general feeling that he was not as important of a character. Without a doubt, he could and should have been given more to do throughout the course of the film.
Electro’s Costume Design Deserved Improvement
That being said, both Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios did work to improve Foxx’s reprisal to a certain extent. His powers were retooled from The Amazing Spider-Man 2and his abilities were enhanced in a way that better coincided with his presence in the comics. Gone was the blue changeling in favor of a more intimidating, powerful physique. After long last, he was finally a character who was more entity than man.
According to visual effects supervisor Chris Waegnerhis very presence was intended as a threat. “For this show, we pitched the electrical effects being more violent and staccato with moments of pure energy. The idea being, that when he zaps from location to location or he’s hovering, taunting our heroes, the electrical effects are almost disorienting… There’s always an electrical storm in the air surrounding Electro, almost like being near a giant Tesla coil.”
This update aside, however, Electro’s final costume was, unfortunately, underwhelming. The initial design for Electro that was finalized for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had been debated heavily and rejected by audiences who had greater expectations for Sony’s imagining of Max Dillon. Unfortunately, No Way Home did not offer much of an improved wardrobe upon Foxx’s revisit to the Marvel Universe.
Traditionally, Marvel Studios honors comic book designs — with a modern twist — to the best of their ability throughout their cinematic universe. In the comics, Electro’s costume has changed wildly over the years, from a green and yellow ensemble reminiscent of early Loki to the more blue-based adaptations. While the film pays homage to Electro’s costume by having a lightning mask appear over his face, the actual costume is just a plain shirt, cargo pants, and fireman’s jacket (with a Stark Tech logo placed over the outerwear to remind audiences that Iron Man’s legacy is still present within the MCU). Frankly, failing to improve upon Electro’s visual appeal speaks to how lightly the decision to reestablish his presence in No Way Home was taken. Looks may not be everything, but, in this instance, they’re pretty important.
No Way Home Was an Apology to Jaime Foxx’s Electro, Not a Redemption
While Foxx’s return was intended to be a redemption for Electro, Marvel Studios had finally been granted access to use the character in a larger role. In practice, however, this did not translate. There should have been more of an effort to reboot the character from a new point of view rather than reconstruct what is already established. Instead, what played out was not a stand-alone arc but the reconciliation between him and Garfield’s Peter Parker, a moment which should have already been touched upon during their first go-around.
Bringing Foxx back was assumed to be enough for Spider-Man: No Way Home. He was not given a specific angle or purpose that would contribute to the growth of his character, and, even worse, he was deprived of the on-screen development necessary for his character’s redemption. While No Way Home gave Foxx’s Electro more to do upon entering the multiverse, it simply could not overtake its first impression. This second chance felt like more of an apology from Sony and Marvel after their disastrous first attempt to bring Electro into the universe. While bringing him back was a step in the right direction, it could not completely undo the damage from Foxx’s previous outing.
The good news is this does not necessarily mean the end of Electro in the Spider-Man Movie-Verse. While there may not be much hope in resurrecting Foxx’s version of the villain, like any good comic book character, Electro has been played by more than one person over the years. Between 2016 and 2021, for example, the part was played by Francine Frye after Dillon presumably died. Given that the MCU Peter Parker has already faced off against Max Dillion, it would be interesting to see him face Francine Frye’s Electro. He would have already faced off against a version of Electro but would have to deal with a new variant unique to his universe. It would be a way to distinguish the MCU from previous Spider-Man stories.
The Francine Frye or Max Dillon version of Electro could get their own solo films like Venom, Morbiusand the upcoming Kraven the Hunter. Sony Pictures still seems to be interested in making a Sinister Six film, and Electro seems like a prime candidate for the team. While chances of a version of Electro are unlikely to appear in Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, given the large number of characters, a version of Electro could appear in the upcoming Spider-Man Noir series or Silk series. There is plenty of room for Electro to still shine.