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The History Of Jamie Foxx's Electro Explained

There are few actors as versatile in our world today than Jamie Foxx. The man can act, he can sing, and he's got plenty of funny bones to spare. He's played everything from historical figures and Tarantino cowboys to dastardly villains and comic book characters. Of course, for Marvel fans, Foxx is probably best known for playing the supervillain Electro opposite Andrew Garfield in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" and Tom Holland in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Interestingly, this electricity-bending supervillain went from initially poor reception to being praised by audiences and critics alike. Much like the wall-crawler himself, Foxx's Electro has been both loved and hated, but that hasn't stopped him from returning to take revenge on our friendly neighborhood hero.

First appearing in "The Amazing Spider-Man" #9 back in 1964, Max Dillon, aka Electro, was a recurring Spidey foe since the earliest days of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's most popular character. Though he's been reinvented on a number of occasions, Electro always finds himself reviving his '60s roots. Naturally, Foxx's Electro is no different, and although he started as an adaptation of one version of the character, his second appearance was more of a return to form. But what happened in between? How did Marvel and Sony manage to bring two distinct versions of the supervillain to the big screen with the same actor as both? Whether you enjoyed Foxx's portrayals or loathed them, here is the history behind how Marvel brought his version of Electro to life.

Rumors about The Amazing Spider-Man 2

After the success of the first "Amazing Spider-Man" film, Sony quickly began work on the sequel. As director Marc Webb began constructing "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," he started developing a greater shared universe behind it. But before Sony and the gang got too far ahead of themselves, Webb dialed in the cast for the sequel, allegedly centering the next installment around Electro. In October 2012, not long after the first film's release, it was reported that Shailene Woodley was cast as Mary Jane Watson for the sequel, with the film rumored to feature Electro as the primary antagonist.

Ironically, Woodley's scenes as MJ were cut completely from the finished product — much to fans' disappointment — and the supervillain who had been rumored to appear was quickly confirmed after the casting of Jamie Foxx. Though Spidey's secondary love interest was written out of the movie, Foxx's Electro played as big a part as ever. The character was featured prominently in all of the film's promotion and, in some countries, the sequel was even given a subtitle, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro." What started as a rumor quickly became reality, giving Spider-Man a formidable and overpowering superhuman foe we hadn't seen the likes of since Sandman in  "Spider-Man 3." Unlike Thomas Haden Church's Sandman, however, Electro wasn't set up for a redemption arc.

An Ultimate redesign

In the original Marvel Comics, Electro sports a strange, very comic book-y appearance. Clad in a green outfit with yellow lightning bolt designs scattered around (including a star-shaped lightning mask), the supervillain sported this look for decades. Then, in the early 2000s, Marvel Comics launched a new set of titles that they called "Ultimate Marvel." These "Ultimate" books were modernizations of classic Marvel heroes like the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Daredevil, and the Avengers — who were renamed the Ultimates. Naturally, Spider-Man found himself back in high school again as Brian Michael Bendis' "Ultimate Spider-Man" comics updated his origins for new, young readers. Though Peter Parker was mostly unchanged, his rogues' gallery underwent some massive redesigns.

Electro was one of them, and instead of his classic '60s-inspired outfit, he was now portrayed as a human being given full control over electricity. That's right, Electro's electric blue look from "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" was directly inspired by his Ultimate Universe counterpart. But Electro wasn't the only Marvel character modeled after their Ultimate Universe version. The MCU had previously modeled Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury after the character's look in "The Ultimates," which was coincidently modeled after Jackson himself. "Marc Webb and all of those guys, they're smart," Foxx told MTV when discussing Electro's updated look, comparing it to the original yellow and green outfit. "They know that it has to make sense in 2013, so the suit is really slick. It's actually black. It's a new age."

Creating a supervillain

Admittedly, it might have been easier for Marc Webb and company to build an Electro based on his original look, but given their commitment to bringing the Ultimate version to life, it meant some heavy VFX work. The technicians and digital artists over at Sony Pictures Imageworks worked overtime to bring the electric blue supervillain to life. "We created probably 20 different layers of lightning and utility passes to help the compositor create the sense of energy inside his skin," VFX supervisor Jerome Chen told The Hollywood Reporter following the film's release. "We wanted the feeling that there's a storm inside his flesh." Indeed, that's exactly how it looks.

Likewise, the VFX artists modeled the character's change in color — from straight blue to hints of yellow or red when angry — directly off his origins. "The colors were influenced by underwater footage of tropical fish and coral to give him more range," Chen further explained. But they didn't just manipulate Electro's appearance in post-production, they also added a bit of texture to his voice. This helped to convey that his vocal cords were fried during his transformation. When it came to the film's Times Square sequence, location scouts were tasked with snapping over 36,000 shots of the famed New York City block to be digitally re-created for the first battle between Spider-Man and Electro. This allowed them full control of Electro's electric tentacles as well as Spider-Man's slow-motion spidey-sense. 

Rise of Electro

When we first meet Jamie Foxx's Max Dillon in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," he's nothing more than your average Oscorp electrician whose life is miraculously saved by Spider-Man. Of course, like anyone primed to become a supervillain, instead of a simple "thanks," Max becomes obsessed with the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. It becomes clear that Max isn't mentally stable, as this obsession quickly becomes unhealthy. Soon after, Max is transformed into Electro by an accident involving electric eels and a power line. When his powers first manifest in Times Square, he asks his "good buddy" Spider-Man for help, but after he (albeit accidentally) attacks civilians, Spidey goes from defense to offense and defeats the enraged Electro, who is captured and taken to Oscorp.

It isn't long before Dane DeHaan's Harry Osborn makes a deal with the captured Electro to get revenge on Spider-Man: help him take control of Oscorp and he can kill the web-slinger himself. Max accepts, and during his final battle with Spider-Man, he attempts to absorb all of the power from the city's newly-build power grid. This allows Spidey and Gwen Stacy to overload Max with electricity, which tragically leads to his death. Well, either that or he's turned into pure electricity. Either way, it doesn't end well for the overly-obsessed fanboy. After Spidey defeats Osborn, Electro is never heard from again, and while there may have been plans for Electro's return in an upcoming sequel or spin-off, he never re-materializes the same way again.

A poorly received antagonist

Unfortunately, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" wasn't too well received, and though the film did well enough financially, it was hit hard critically. Even though the performances by Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone — who were a real-life couple at the time — were praised, many concluded that the sequel was too concerned with setting up future movies instead of focusing on its own storyline. After Foxx seemed to put his all into the role, his performance likewise received a mixed-to-negative response. "The naturally dynamic Foxx never seems comfortable with the workplace-wallflower characterization," expressed Guy Lodge of Variety. "[Electro is] little more than a warm-up act for the more serpentine villainy of Dane DeHaan."

Others had harsher words to say, and it's clear that, whatever audiences thought they'd be getting in a live-action Electro, most were disappointed. Though critics generally disliked "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," there were few who praised Foxx's work as Max Dillon/Electro. Leslie Felperin of The Hollywood Reporter was one such critic, stating, 'Even under all the prosthetic make-up and visual effects ... [Foxx] manages to project a literally white-hot rage and damaged psyche." While Electro certainly wasn't the biggest missed opportunity in director Marc Webb's "The Amazing Spider-Man" duology, there's no denying that the character's first appearance missed the mark, and contributed to the end of Andrew Garfield's tenure as the titular web-slinger.

A canceled franchise

After the success of the MCU and the advent of "The Avengers" franchise, Sony Pictures — which owns the film rights to Spider-Man — hoped to launch its own Spidey-themed cinematic universe following "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." In fact, before "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword," "The Mummy," and "Power Rangers" failed to launch cinematic universes of their own (all in 2017), "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" served as a "backdoor pilot" of sorts for a greater "Amazing" universe. Aside from two more planned "Amazing Spider-Man" films, Sony hoped to launch "The Sinister Six" and "Venom" concurrently, expanding Spidey's mythos far beyond his own series with Andrew Garfield as the main star.

Unfortunately, due to the sequel's poor reception, the unmade "Amazing Spider-Man 3" was canceled, and the other spin-offs were also scrapped. While Venom's solo film was reworked into the 2018 Tom Hardy movie, the "Sinister Six" project was junked altogether. While it's unclear which members of Marvel's Sinister Six would've been featured in the film, Electro is often associated with the group. Not only was he a founding member in both the traditional Marvel Universe as well as the Ultimate Marvel books, but the uncertainty of his death at the end of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" left the door ajar for Jamie Foxx's potential return. Though "Sinister Six" never happened, with Sony opting to start their new Spidey-adjacent universe with "Venom" and "Morbius" instead, this wasn't the end for Foxx's Electro.

Returning for Spider-Man: No Way Home

After "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," Sony made a deal with Marvel Studios to reboot the web-slinger once again, this time with the younger Tom Holland in the role. After first appearing in "Captain America: Civil War," Holland's Spidey got his own solo feature, "Spider-Man: Homecoming." Aside from appearing in two other "Avengers" flicks, the newly minted Spider-Man received two sequels of his own, "Spider-Man: Far From Home" in 2019 and "Spider-Man: No Way Home" in 2023. In the latter, Jamie Foxx's Electro was reported to return to face the MCU's wall-crawler. After "Far From Home" brought back J.K. Simmons as a new version of J. Jonah Jameson — a character he played in Sam Raimi's original "Spider-Man" trilogy — many believed Foxx's return marked a reboot for the character.

They were only partially right. It was soon announced that Alfred Molina was returning as Doc Ock from Raimi's "Spider-Man 2," which firmly established a link to Sony's previous "Spider-Man" movies. Willem Dafoe was later confirmed to return as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin from "Spider-Man," and both Rhys Ifans' Lizard and Thomas Haden Church's Sandman from "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Spider-Man 3" respectively were scheduled to appear as well. It was clear that Holland's Spider-Man was about to face the foes of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's versions of the web-slinger. "Super excited to part of the new Marvel Spider-Man new installment," Foxx said on his Instagram after his casting announcement, before adding that he wouldn't be blue this time around.

Nearly spoiling No Way Home

Soon after sharing the news on Instagram, Jamie Foxx deleted his post altogether as it contained a fan-made image of three distinct Spider-Men facing off against a mysterious Electro gazing at them from above. At that point, it was only rumored but not yet confirmed that Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire would return as their distinct versions of Spider-Man. Marvel Studios kept the plot under tight wraps and actively fought against any potential leaks. Garfield and Maguire's Spider-Men weren't featured in any of the initial promotional material for the film either, making their return to the screen a surprise for all. On the contrary, Foxx's Electro and the other villains were heavily featured, hoping to draw Spidey fans into the theater.

"As soon as I got on the set and there was all three Spider-Mans, I was like this (picks up cell phone)," Foxx told CinemaBlend after the release of "Spider-Man: No Way Home." He recounted how he was almost tackled to the ground by folks on set who told him that nobody was supposed to know about their return. "'But I think they did a great job in doing that, bringing some mystique. And I think that that's what was needed to get people back in the theater." Foxx later apologized for almost spoiling the big surprise during his initial social media post, but who could blame him? All three live-action Spider-Men together again is a big deal, especially for their enemies.

Electro is reborn

In "Spider-Man: No Way Home," it's revealed that Electro died at the end of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" — or would have had he not been accidentally pulled into the MCU by Tom Holland's Spider-Man, who attempts to use magic to erase his exposed secret identity from the world. Unfortunately, Doctor Strange's spell backfires, bringing different versions of Spider-Man's enemies to the MCU instead, including Electro and the Lizard from "The Amazing Spider-Man" movies and others from the Raimi trilogy. Upon entering the MCU, Electro absorbs the yellow electricity from this new world, transforming him from his electric blue form back into a flesh-and-blood human being. This time, Electro sports a look that better resembles the character's original comic book appearance, complete with the lightning mask.

After being captured by Spider-Man, Electro joins the other villains in agreeing to be cured and thus avoiding fatal combat with their respective wall-crawlers. But this alliance is short-lived, as Electro and the others turn on Spider-Man after the Green Goblin betrays the group. Armed with one of Iron Man's arc reactors, Electro doubles his power and fights the three different Spider-Men, including the Andrew Garfield version from his world. Eventually, the web-slinging trio cure Electro of his powers, with an assist from Doc Ock, rendering him back to normal. Before returning to his world, the former supervillain and his Spider-Man patch things up, as Spidey reminds Max that he was never a nobody and that there's more to life than superpowers.

Vindicated at last

Unlike Jamie Foxx's last tussle with Spider-Man, critics had overwhelmingly positive things to say about "Spider-Man: No Way Home." The film was praised for the emotional catharsis given to longtime fans of the different "Spider-Man" incarnations, and its overall treatment of Spidey's most iconic on-screen rogues. "[No Way Home] provides enough resolution for the past two decades of Spider-Man adventures that audiences who've tuned out along the way will be rewarded for giving this one a shot," wrote Peter Debruge of Variety. The performances of Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin, Alfred Molina's Doc Ock, and even yes, even Foxx's Electro, were praised — a sharp turn from the previous reception of Foxx's character.

Foxx told Marvel.com that he was proud to return and battle Spider-Man: "When you get that call, they work it out and now you're on set with some of the most incredible actors and actresses in the world ... I mean how can you not be happy about it?" After receiving so much criticism the first time around, the overwhelmingly positive reception to "No Way Home" changed the way people saw Foxx's character. Admittedly, there were some distinct differences between Max Dillion's behavior in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" versus his MCU outing, but that can all be chalked up to the new power source he's pulling from. While other "Spider-Man" flicks have been criticized for featuring too many villains, "No Way Home" actually stuck the landing.

Will Jamie Foxx's Electro return?

After the massive success of "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and a resurgence in popularity for "The Amazing Spider-Man" films, many have wondered if we'll see Jamie Foxx's Electro again in the future. Sure, his character was "cured" of his superpowers last time around, but given that comic book characters lose their powers and die all the time, only to return with them restored later, nothing is impossible. As fans hope to see Andrew Garfield's Amazing Spider-Man return again to the screen, it's entirely possible that Foxx's character could reappear as well, maybe even as a reformed ally to the wall-crawler. He is his number-one fan, after all.

While nothing has been officially announced regarding the future of any of the "Amazing" characters, some of Foxx's fellow "No Way Home" castmates would love to work with him again. In a behind-the-scenes featurette, the MCU's resident Spider-Man, Tom Holland, praised the actor, stating that he'd "work with Jamie Foxx on anything." Co-star Andrew Garfield echoed those sentiments, praising Foxx's performance both on and off-screen. Though Electro will no doubt live on in Marvel comic books, animation, and video games, his live-action fate is uncertain. But, given that we thought his fate was sealed the last time around, another return as the character is not outside the realm of possibility.