Willem Dafoe Doesn’t Want Green Goblin to Become a Meme

Willem Dafoe says he wanted the Green Goblin character to be more than just comical jokes in Spider-Man: No Way Home. The third installment of the MCU’s Spider-Man, directed by Jon Watts, follows the multiversal adventure of Peter Parker (Tom Holland). Through his journey, he encounters previous Spider-Man franchise villains, including the return of Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), Electro (Jamie Foxx), and Green Goblin. The blockbuster film is currently set to break more box office records for the MCU, leaning close to surpassing 2019’s Avengers: Endgame.

Dafoe made his first debut as Norman Osbourne, aka Green Goblin, in 2002’s Spider-Man, directed by Sam Raimi. Dafoe’s portrayal of Norman Osbourne was well-received by audiences and critics after his astounding performance, becoming a fan favorite. Dafoe was known for performing a majority of his own stunts in the film. Hence, Dafoe insisted on returning to reprise his role as Green Goblin on the condition that he was able to be a part of the action sequences in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

In an interview with The New York Times, Dafoe shares the criteria he had to return to play the menacing antagonist in Spider-Man: No Way Home. When the idea was first introduced to Dafoe by producer Amy Pascal and Watts, Dafoe wanted assurance that his role would be more than just a cameo, as he wanted to be included in action scenes to avoid becoming “a series of memes.” Read Dafoe’s full response below:

“When Amy Pascal [a “Spider-Man” producer] and Jon Watts [the director of “No Way Home”] called me and said we would like to introduce you to this idea, I thought, this is crazy. But let’s see what they have to say. I really didn’t want to do a cameo. I wanted to make sure there was something pretty substantial to do that wasn’t just a tip of the hat. And the other thing is, I said I really want there to be action – I want to be in action scenes. Because it’s really fun for me. This is the only way to root the character. Otherwise, it just becomes a series of memes.”

Over the years, Dafoe’s rendition of the impish Green Goblin has become memorable for many, with fans echoing catchphrases and creating meme templates from scenes shot in the original Spider-Man franchise. As Norman had an alternate nefarious personality, it was essential for Dafoe to embody the auditory and visual hallucinations from which his character suffered. Therefore, it is understandable why Dafoe wanted to play an integral role in the film rather than appearing as a small cameo, knowing that his maniacal alter ego could come across as parody if not portrayed correctly.

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Nevertheless, Dafoe’s criteria were met in Spider-Man: No Way Home, as he played a central role in the overall story, terrorizing the wall-crawling hero. The movie’s exceptionally positive reviews prove Dafoe’s instincts about the character were right and his dedication to the stunts and character-building were worth it. Even Jamie Foxx, who plays fellow villain Electro, admitted that Green Goblin is the scariest villain in the movie. With Dafoe’s incredible performance, it doesn’t seem likely that his fear of Green Goblin becoming a meme will come true.

Source: The New York Times

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