Marvel's 'Spider-Man 3' Is Bringing Back Alfred Molina As Doctor Octopus

The cast of Sony and Marvel's Spider-Man 3, the follow-up to last year's Spider-Man: Far From Home, is getting awfully large – and it just added eight more limbs to its roster.

A new report says Alfred Molina is returning to the Spider-Man universe for the first time since 2004 to reprise his role from Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2. He will once again play Doctor Otto Octavius, the scientist who experimented on himself and became known as the supervillain Doctor Octopus – also known as "Doc Ock."

The Hollywood Reporter confirms an earlier report that Alfred Molina will return as Doc Ock, seemingly confirming yet again that this sequel will utilize the multiverse as a key part of its storytelling. Molina imbued the Octavius character with a warm humanity in Raimi's movie, with the character serving as a mentor figure to Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker before making the ill-fated decision to use himself as the subject for an experiment which involved affixing metal arms to his back. He was able to get those appendages under control, but tragically, the experiment twisted his mind and personality, driving him to become one of Spider-Man's most physically and emotionally imposing cinematic foes.

Otto dies at the end of the movie, sacrificing himself to save New York City from a nuclear explosion, so it'll be interesting to see if this film literally interrupts the action of Raimi's movie and plucks this character into this Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline. Molina's performance is perfectly pitched for a comic book film of that era, alternately nuanced and wildly over-the-top. He was a bright spot in that wave of early 2000s comic book films and set a new standard for comic book movie villainy.

If the Oscar-winning instant classic Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse didn't exist, a case could be made that filmmaker Jon Watts might be mounting the most complex Spider-Man movie ever shot; I suppose that could still end up being the case, but the 2018 animated movie set an extremely high bar, so this film has its work cut out for it. We already know this movie will feature Jamie Foxx's Electro from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as well as Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange. Considering the floodgates are now fully open when it comes to the multiverse, I wouldn't be surprised to see tons of other live-action Spider-Man actors start trickling into this new sequel as well.

The still-untitled Spider-Man 3 will once again star Tom Holland, Zendaya, Tony Revelori, and Jacob Batalon, and be directed by Jon Watts. It is currently slated to hit theaters on December 17, 2021.