Thomas Haden Church to Play Bad Guy in ‘Spider Man 3’

Thomas Haden Church is reportedly going to join Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in Spiderman 3, playing the role of an unspecified villian.

Thomas Haden Church to Play Bad Guy in ‘Spider Man 3’

While Thomas Haden Church did not end up winning the Oscar for his performance in the independent film ‘Sideways,’ his nomination and good reviews earned him new opportunities. It was announced today that Church will play an as of yet to be named villain in ‘Spider Man 3,’ the latest sequel in the blockbuster series about the webslinging super hero.

The stars of the first two films will return as Tobey Maguire will reprise his role as Spiderman/Peter Parker and Kristen Dunst will return as love interest Mary Jane. Sam Rami, who directed the first two ‘Spiderman’ features will also be back in the director’s chair.

The film is scheduled for release in May 2007.

The first two films featured classic Spider-Man villians the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus, both of whom appeared within the first six issues of the original 1963 series.

Photo: Covers of issues #1-10 of the Amazing Spider-Man
Click for larger images of the covers for issues #1-100

The most likely villain for Church to play, then, would be either The Vulture, who appeared in issues 2 and 7; The Sandman, who appeared in issue 4; or Doctor Doom, who appeared in issue 5. Since Doom is mostly associated with the Fantastic Four, I’d guess Vulture or Sandman.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Alex Knapp says:

    Raimi has been on the record as saying that he’s a big fan of Sandman. Certainly, Sandman is a little more scary than the Vulture. However, given that the first two movies have been pretty grounded, I would expect a villain who’s powers are a little less fantastic. My money’s on Vulture–MAYBE Electro.

  2. Brian J. says:

    Foolishly, I took Venom in the pool.

  3. James Joyner says:

    There does seem to be a lot of Venom talk on the message boards. It seems an odd choice, though, since that character comes so late in the character’s evolution and they seem very much to be trying to do for Spider-Man what John Byrne did for Superman in the mid-1980s: Redo the original origin and storyline but in a more modern context.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Thomas Hayden Church would seem most likely for Electro.

  5. Bill says:

    C’mon guys! We’re talking about Hollywood here. They’re going to choose a character which is menacing and compelling enough to make an impression on today’s culture. The vulture? The sandman? These guys are not scary or interesting enough by today’s standards. I’ll cast my ballot with The lizard – since Church is a little lizard-looking himself 🙂

    They’ll save Venom for when the franchise has begun to lose it’s luster and needs a ‘new idea’, much the same as in the comic book series (and as they’re doing with Bat- and Superman movie franchises).

  6. Hmmmm, I thought for sure the villian in movie 3 was set at the end of movie 2 – the Green Goblin.

    Shows how much I know.

  7. Bill says:

    I think you’re right, B. But James Franco is returning (and playing the character which would become the GG), so maybe they’ll have dueling villains as in the Batman films (not that it was a good idea)

  8. Alex Knapp says:

    Bill, it definitely won’t be the Lizard because Curt Connors was introduced in Spider-Man 2, and he wasn’t played by Church.

  9. W.G. says:

    When Spide-Man 2 came out after I watched it, I was sure that the Lizard was going to be in the next film, with a chance of a Venom cameo at the end. Durring the first movie you only hear about Dr. Conner, but in 2 you get to see him, played by Dylan Baker, and thats what made it a sure thing for me. I wouldn’t be surprised that they had a casting change and made Thomas Haden Church Dr. Conners/Lizard insted. I look foward to Spider-Man 3 no matter who the villian is though.

  10. Bill says:

    Interesting, though I still think that Church looks like a lizard 🙂 and that Venom will be saved for when they need to “jump the shark”…I mean, how can you go back to standard spandex-and-pathos villains after Venom?

    This is fun. Anyone want to place bets?

  11. Bill says:

    oh, btw, Why are we assuming that they’re trying to remain true to the original comics? Did you guys see what they did to The Hulk? Yeesh…

  12. Cohnny says:

    I agree with Schuler there about the Hollywood aspect playing a major role in the next villain. Being young and not familiar with the history of the comic (other than looking at the above covers of the first 100 issues) I can’t really say who, logically, would come next. I do think, factoring in Hollywood and what would excite people, that the studio will once again go with a dual villain format. My thought is, Lizard and the introduction of Electro or Shocker. The studio may stay away from Electro because it is quite close to Elektra. It would be nice to Venom but, as Schuler pointed out, he may be saved for a later, saving grace film.

  13. Cohnny says:

    Opps, I credited Schuler for Bill’s comment…damn this dyslexia

  14. Alex Knapp says:

    I loved the Hulk, which, I might add was very faithful to the comics, especially the Peter David run.

  15. Bill says:

    Alex, I don’t want to get this too far off-topic, but I’m not familiar with the Peter David years. I was commenting on the break from the original (goofy, less pathos-driven) Stan Lee story about the green guy’s genesis; and why we may be misleading ourselves regarding filmaking faithfulness to the original comics. I don’t think that Stan Lee’s original story about the Hulk would have made a good film, thus Ang Lee’s (Peter David’s ?) new direction. I would expect the same holds true for Spidey in the long run. Our culture has changed so much since the 60’s that the stories (and many of the characters) must be much darker and complex (thanks to Tim Burton/Batman).

    (I thought the Hulk was painfully contrived and unfocused, but some of the coolest CGI I’ve ever seen, but that’s another arguement 😉 )

  16. Ryan says:

    Like W.G., I was sure the Lizard would be the next villian after watching Spider-Man 2. And I can see the casting change happening; it’s been done before.

    My guess is they’d bring Venom in on one of the later films (5 or 6), and introduce Eddie Brock in at least the movie before and develop some background for him. Electro would be cool, but I think they’d have to redesign his costume (i.e. the mask).

    My money is on the Lizard or Shocker, with continued development on the Green Goblin front. Maybe throw in some Man-Wolf action with John Jameson? Some other villian ideas – Scorpian or Mysterio. Too bad Doc Oc died, a movie with the Sinister Six would have been neat (but maybe overkill).

  17. Bill says:

    Ryan – Interesting point regarding the Sinister Six. I’d love to see some big-budget, synergistic movie along the lines of the Secret Wars (like Aliens vs. Predator) someday…maybe after these individual franchises are developed a bit more. Imagine the merchandising possibilities!

  18. Ryan says:

    That would be huge – Lord of the Rings proportions. Though I’m sure it would confuse the hell out of people. They just need to start an Avengers franchise, and we’re almost set. Bring on the Silver Surfer and they could bring in Thanos and do an “Infinity Gauntlet” movie.

    Glad you brought up the Secret Wars, Bill. Isn’t that where the Venom constume has its beginnings (Spider-man uses alien technology…)? Maybe getting into the nitty-gritty.

  19. Bill says:

    Yes, as far as I can remember, that’s where Venom originated. I haven’t read comics in at least 15 years – isn’t there a newer version of Venom?

    I don’t think that a Secret Wars movie would have to make sense. The comics didn’t, really. It was just fun for the sake of geeky introspection and gratuitous super-power matching. Remember being a kid and wondering who was more powerful?

    I also heard that someone’s working on a Fantastic Four movie? Now that’s old-school, baby.

  20. Ryan says:

    Good point.
    Oh yeah! Fantastic Four movie is slated to come out this summer. You can see the trailer at

  21. Bill says:

    Thanks, Ryan. It (Jessica Alba) looks good! They’ve Dr. Doom as their villain, so unless Marvel starts some aforementioned cross-overs, it looks like he’s accounted for.

  22. Cohnny says:

    It’s a shame Alba has to be invisible..a damn shame, in fact..this deserves a boycott…Jessica Alba should not be allowed to be invisible.

  23. Tor says:

    Venom will never be in a Spider-man movie, ever!

    1. They are only making three spider-man movies and it’s obvious Venom won’t be introduced in the third.

    2. Sam Raimi has publicly stated that he hates the Venom character and that putting him in the movie would make go into a cheesy sci-fi movie.

    3. New Line Cinema bought the rights to Venom and has stated they will not allow the character to be in a Sony (Who owns the Spider-man movie rights) movie. Sony said that they would not allow Spider-man to be in a New Line Cinema movie.

    My bet is that the third movie will be either Electro or Sandman and Hobgoblin. I just don’t see Sam Raimi putting another villain with Electro because he can obviously cause enough visceral entertainment by himself. Sandman on the other hand (Who Sam Raimi is a huge fan of) is just enough to team with Harry Osbourn as Hobgoblin (I know that Harry is the GG in the comics, but Raimi is smart enough not to repeat villains when he has so many good ones to choose from)

  24. Cletus Kassidy says:

    TRUST ME IT’S SANDMAN! although i was rooting for venom i was lead to beleive that SM3 is following this storyline which is TRUE:

    With Harry finding all his dads equipment at the end of the last movie, it would make sense to make him green goblin 2 as in the comics. Thomas Church is the other mystery villian. Now, Thomas church kind of looks like William Dafoe which leads me to think that they have cast him as Sandman because in the comics the Sandman was Norman Osbornes cousin. Besides he is too old to play Venom and Tobey and Sam had both said they like that character.
    They could show the Sandman breaking out of prison in the beginning of the movie where he hides in some type of chemical plant and gets his powers. After which he goes and finds his family member Harry Osborne. He would no doubt want to help Harry avenge Normans death. We would have some great fight scenes of those two teaming up against spidey. In this Movie they should show Peter staying close with Dr. Curt conners to further develope him because he would be the villain in spider-man 4.

  25. Tor says:

    Hey Carnage, are you sure that Sandman and Harry are cousins I never heard that, but then again I didn’t read many comics. If they are, then I believe that you are correct in guessing the villains (you win a cookie). The two spider-man stories I want to see the most are Sinister Six and Maximum Carnage(The game Max C was so freaking cheap). I’m sure you would like a Maximum Carnage movie, wouldn’t you?

  26. WERb says:

    I sat next to Thomas Hayden Church on a plane from Texas to New York 2 days ago (March 22). I had heard he was hired as a villain for SM3 before the trip and since I recognized him, I asked him the million dollar question. All he would tell me is that everyone will be shocked.

  27. the round one says:

    have ne of u guys seen Thomas Haden Church? he looks like the PERFECT eddie brock. they wudnt change the cast, theres no reason to. sandman and vulture wud be horrible, and now we no it isnt the lizard. im willing to bet it IS goin to be venom

  28. Tor says:

    VENOM WILL NOT BE IN SP3. I don’t know why people keep saying he will be. New Line Cinema owns the movie rights to Venom and won’t allow Sony to use them. If you don’t believe me then google “Venom Movie” and you will eventually find the “official” website that show this. There is a better chance of Hot Wheel appearing in the movie than Venom. SO GET OVER IT. NO VENOM!!!!!! NO VENOM!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!! NO VENOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

  29. Alex Klarfeld says:

    To all you motherfuckers who think Venom will not be in Spider-Man 3-HE WILL BE! It’s already official-I saw his huge, scary face on the Spider-Man 3 poster along with the Goblin(Harry)in the distance. Plus, one of my pals got a Spider-Man 3 action figure, and it was so Venom it’s not even goddamn funny! Thomas Haden Church is going to play Venom-ask one site I went on-they said it looked likely, and didn’t know about the poster I saw, and plus, VENOM WON THE VOTE FAIR AND SQUARE! So YOU get over it, you assholes! Venom is in Spidey 3 along with Harry the Goblin and that’s final! Wake up, smell the coffee, and face facts, you bloody sons of bitches!

  30. Tor says:

    Wow, you have to be the most gullible person I have ever seen. You really shouldn’t believe everything you see on the internet. The poster you saw was a fake that somebody copied and pasted. Every site with the poster has even said so. And it was not made official as you said because Sony has not released a statement saying so. The action figure you saw, was an actual toy that is being released with new Lizard and Green Goblin toys in conjunction with a new Spider-man web blaster toy. You need to calm down, get some common sense, increase your vocabulary beyond swears, and stop taking ecstasy or acid or whatever illegal drug you on. By the way, as I have already stated many times on this forum, the movie rights to the character Venom are owned by New Line Cinema and not Sony. Even if Raimi wanted to use Venom in the third movie (Which he has repeatedly said he doesn’t) he does not have the rights to and New Line Cinema has publicly stated they will not sell them.

  31. Alex Klarfeld says:

    Listen up. Maybe I’ll stop swearing. But I’ll have you know that I don’t do drugs. I’m not nearly that stupid. But I do know one thing. I need not to swear, and you need to back off, because I know in the back of my head that Venom will be in Spidey 3, whether you wanna believe it or not. Nothing against your opinion, I just know it for a fact. All I’ll say now is-JUST WAIT.

  32. Tor says:

    I was just joking about the drugs. I apologize if that is not true and I offended you

  33. Alex Klarfeld says:

    I accept your apology. By the way, I forgot to tell you something. Remember how you said that Sony was in charge of the Spider-Man movies and that they would not allow Venom to be used? Well, I have news for you, big boy. On the same site I saw the poster that I mentioned, it said at the top that SONY had announced Venom would be in Spider-Man 3. It said it, and I took a good look at the poster, recalling how you said it was copied and pasted. My eyes don’t lie, and it wasn’t. It was the real thing, exactly like the # 2 one with Doc Ock. So, like I said before, nothing against your opinion or thought, I simply know for a fact Venom will be in the movie ALONG with Harry the Goblin. I see nothing wrong with 2 villains anyway.

  34. Yo!Adriene! says:

    Haden can’t play Venom, although I would love to see it! Venom is in my opinion the most interesting and challenging of all villains. It seems like most Spider-Man villains deep down inside… usually with the help of the “love of a woman” (or family member) don’t really want to be villains at all. Therefore, to establish Venom and the feud that develops between Peter and Eddie Brock (and certain women) at this point would be cinematically difficult. As many of you have noted, the door was left open for The Lizard, aka Doc Connors. If Ramey chooses to open a new look into Peter’s life which incorporates Brock, I will be surprised because at this point, from the movie standpoint, we know more about Connors than Brock.

    Haden’s an excellent choice for the Lizard and Dr. Connors. He certainly has a duality to him that can be both intelligent and scary, both handsome and as aforementioned “lizard looking”.

  35. Alex Klarfeld says:

    Nuts! You remind me of a bully I knew when I was in first grade! I’ll explain-he liked to use big, tough and strong words, just like you, and he would often say reasons for something not being possible, just like you said Church couldn’t play Venom, but when me and my classmates had taken enough and started beating him up-HE STARTED BRIUSING LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE! I think you can see through the indirectness of this message, and you know what I’m saying.

  36. Dinkadoo says:

    Thomas Haden Church is a sellout.

  37. Alex K says:

    I hate to say it, but you were right. Church is set to play Sandman. I like Sandman, but Venom is my # 1 favorite Spidey-Villain. Sam Riami had best put Venom in Spider-Man 4 or 5 at latest, however! For right now, I have a hatred for him as intense as Venom’s for Spidey himself! And let me tell you, if I were his boss, and he pulled a no-Venom stunt like he just did, I would have already said: “RAIMI, YOU’RE FIRED!”, booted the motherfucker out the door, and made it so that Vin Diesel played Venom in the 4th Spider-Man movie. You want my respect back, Raimi, you put Venom in either SPider-Man 4 or 5. And I can’t believe you don’t like Venom. Oh well, put him in 4 or 5, or I will make sure I go on strike just like all the other Venom fans will. Yeah, you heard me Raimi. Yeah, that’s what I said. Yeah, you need to put Venom in Spider-Man 4 or 5, otherwise, I diss you but good. These are the words of a really pissed off Venom fan.

  38. joe bob says:

    I believe you are all acting like children. but i do agree with you adout Thomas haden church as an actor. NO GOOD!. he was great in George of the Jungle, but not for spiderman 3. although i too am a big fan of venom i believe sand man is a very wise choice made by RAIMI. thats how you spell his name,not ramey. however i would prefer the lizard. my reason, i thought that the man playing the role of Doc Connors was a very good actor. you all are dissing Raimi but was it not HE that made TWO spiderman BLOCKBUSTERS of the previuos spiderman movies. You cant expect venom to appear out of nowhere and it be a BLOCKBUSTER. you can trust Sam!