UPDATE: According to The Wrap, Rhys Ifans will be playing Dr. Curt Connors, better known as The Lizard. Sony Pictures declined to comment.
Every great superhero needs a great villain.
Superman, for instance, has Lex Luthor, while Batman has the Joker. So when Columbia announced they were rebooting "Spider-Man," fanboys and fangirls around the world began debating who the villain would be when the film lands in 2012. With great power must come a great evil, after all.
Finally, we have our answer: Rhys Ifans.
Okay, so Ifans is actually an actor and not a supervillain, but now that Sony has announced that he has been signed to play the lead villain opposite Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker, the speculation can truly begin in earnest. And the press release itself may have some clues.
"We have been very fortunate to attract some of the best actors working today to play the villains in the Spider-Man movies, and it is exciting to see that trend continue with Rhys Ifans," Columbia president Matt Tolmach said. "After seeing his performance in our upcoming film 'Anonymous,' we’re in awe of his talent and think he’s the perfect choice to take on this role.”
"Anonymous" wouldn't exactly seem to be a breeding ground for costumed supervillains, as Ifans plays the historical figure Edward de Vere, whom some believe was the real author of Shakespeare's plays. There's certain to be plenty of pathos in the role though, something that "Spider-Man" director Marc Webb appreciates.
"What sets the Spider-Man villains apart is the complexity of their relationships with Peter Parker," Webb said. "Rhys’ incredible ability to embody both warmth and rage makes him the ideal choice for this character."
So let's see: a possibly tragic figure who swings between warmth and rage and has a complex relationship with Peter Parker? It sounds like the villain of the first "Spider-man" trilogy, The Green Goblin, but considering they are trying to move away from that series (see: the casting of Emma Stone as love interest Gwen Stacy rather than Mary Jane Watson), we're going to go with another classic Spidey villain: The Lizard, a sinister reptilian beast who possesses the form of Peter's mentor, Dr. Curt Connors, during times of great stress.
Until the truth is revealed, though, crazy theories and unfounded rumors are sure to fly, which probably sits just fine with Ifans. After all, his next film role is as conspiracy whacko Xenophilius Lovegood in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1."
Let the guessing games begin.
(Originally published on Oct. 11, 2010, at 3:15 p.m. ET)