Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus earned raves as the villain of Spider-Man 2, but the character almost showed up in Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie.
Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus earned raves as the villain of Spider-Man 2, but the character almost showed up in Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie. Fans will soon have a chance to get reacquainted with Molina’s Doc Ock when the lethally armed bad guy returns as part of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is set to explore the Marvel multiverse by bringing back multiple characters from prior Spider-Man movie iterations. With Molina now 67-years-old, Marvel Studios will be using its famously good de-aging techniques to make it seem like Otto Octavius teleported straight from 2004.
It’s probably a good idea to bring Molina’s Doctor Octopus back, as his portrayal of Octavius looms so large in history that anyone Marvel Studios would’ve cast as their version would’ve been immediately overshadowed, such as if they had tried to recast J.K. Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson. While Molina’s Doc Ock died at the end of Spider-Man 2, in a world with both time travel and parallel worlds, it’s not hard to imagine how he could be successfully resurrected.
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That said, if Doctor Octopus had stuck to Raimi and company’s original plan, and had him play a major role in the first Spider-Man, one wonders what kind of butterfly effect it might’ve had. Would Molina have even been cast? Who would be the lead villain in Spider-Man 2? Fittingly, in some alternate universe, these questions had answers.
Why Doctor Octopus Was Taken Out Of Raimi’s First Spider-Man
Surprisingly enough, having Doctor Octopus as a villain in the first Spider-Man movie goes all the way back to the idea’s initial development in the 1980s, when no less than Stan Lee wrote a script. A Spider-Man movie project would go in and out of development hell over the ensuing decades, until Sam Raimi finally boarded as director in 2000. Credited screenwriter David Koepp first penned a script based on James Cameron’s ideas when he had previously been set to direct, but eventually swapped out Cameron’s planned villains Electro and Sandman with Green Goblin as the primary villain and Doctor Octopus as the secondary antagonist.
However, Raimi found the father/son dynamic offered in the story via the interplay between Harry and Norman Osborn was the way Spider-Man needed to go, so he requested Doc Ock be dropped to streamline things. Sony brought writer Scott Rosenberg in to pen a rewrite of Koepp’s script, one which removed all traces of Otto Octavius. Another primary reason Raimi gave for wanting to cut out Doctor Octopus from the film was that he felt telling three origin stories in one movie might overwhelm fans, and be too complex to follow easily. That’s actually a bit hilarious in hindsight, considering that Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 tells the villainous origins of Venom, Sandman, and Harry’s New Goblin all in one movie, much to the detriment of what would become a highly overstuffed script. Famously though, Raimi wasn’t a Venom fan, and was pushed by Sony to include him in the Spider-Man threequel, perhaps accounting for the change in multiple origin story tolerance.
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