While the trailers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 have shown us tons of villains, Electro is the bad guy who takes center stage — and he has powers that go beyond what we've seen in the trailers so far. He'll go from the saddest of sad sacks to the man whose powers are far beyond anything Peter Parker can imagine.
During the Sony Hall H panel (and after Andrew Garfield pulled a stunt in which he answered questions in costume and in character), Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Mark Webb showed a reel of footage that sets the scene for the sequel. Peter is at the top of his game as Spider-Man, possessing what Webb describes as a certain virtuosity. He has legions of fans who dress up like him. He regularly makes the news (and not in a "Threat or menace?" kind of way). He's still happy with Gwen (although she reminds him that she loves Peter Parker more than she loves Spider-Man), and his biggest problem is that he occasionally turns all of his laundry blue and red. We see him take down Paul Giamatti's Aleksei Sytsevich easily and with slapstick flair; he restrains him with his webs and uses another web to pants Sytsevich. Life is good.
One day during his heroing rounds, he encounters Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx). He fixes Max's combover and calls him by name, which obviously stuns Max. (He read the name off Max's badge.) After Spidey tells Max that Max is his "eyes and ears out here," Max is clearly awe-struck. "Nobody notices other people," Max laments.
After an encounter with a tank of electric eels, however, Max has more attention than he can handle. In one scene, we see him as full Electro, floating in the air and blasting electricity from his body. There's a certain stylized, cartoon quality to this scene, much like what we saw in the earlier footage, but there's also an incredible shift in scale. Electro isn't even the same species as Sytsevich; he looks less like a criminal than a force of nature.
For Webb, that's a key aspect of Electro. He wanted to create a villain who seems to outclass Spider-Man at the start. Electro can't be touched. Spider-Man's webs, so handy in restraining Paul Giamatti, conduct electricity. And, Webb says, when Electro touches a socket, he can disappear and travel through the circuits. He also emphasizes that this story isn't about fighting multiple villains; Spider-Man happens to fight other villains before Electro shows up and puts them all to shame. "Paul Giamatti is there to set a fun tone," says Webb.
Foxx says that Electro's destructive rage comes from a severe sense of betrayal. Max Dillon's father left him when Max was a child, and he was reared by an overprotective mother who doubted him. Now in his early 40s, Max lives with his mother, works as an electrician at Oscorp, and, as Foxx points out, may well be the only black man on film with a combover. The day Max encounters Spider-Man is his birthday, and even Max's mother forgot. "He thinks Spider-Man is the most solid person," Foxx explains.
The film also introduces Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn. In this version, Harry and Peter were childhood friends, but Harry was sent off to boarding school at a young age. After cutting off contact with everyone back home, Harry has to reconcile his relationship with Peter for the first time.
During the Q&A session, one fan asked about Garfield's remark about giving Peter Parker a romance with a man, perhaps played by Michael B. Jordan. While Garfield said that it wouldn't necessarily make sense for this iteration of Peter Parker to suddenly start dating a man, "Spider-Man stands for everybody. He stands for the underdog, and anybody can be under the costume."