The Spider-Man No Way Home Team Who Made Electro ‘Cool’ Again

Spoiler Warning for Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home is filled with fantastic moments, but one of the brightest of them all is Jamie Foxx’s Electro.

In No Way Home, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker runs into Electro after he’s ordered to track down all of the villains breaking in from other universes. Electro is found next to a power line structure in the middle of a forest, leading to one of the showcase action scenes of the film. 

In this fight, Electro bursts onto the scene, absorbing energy from nearby power lines. He starts firing lightning bolts at Spider-Man as he tries to navigate web-swinging through a dark forest. Eventually, Sandman enters the scene and bails Spider-Man out, before Spider-Man is able to overload Electro and eventually capture him. The visual effects in this scene really demonstrate a stark contrast between light and dark, as Electro’s attacks are the only radiance in an otherwise pitch black setting.

Electro is portrayed as pure energy in this scene, only becoming recognizable as Jamie Foxx after the fight is over. The new realization of the character is bright, bold, and more memorable than before. Since this fight is the introduction of Electro in No Way Home, the version of the character we see here is more raw than we see in the rest of the movie, and that was an important concept the filmmakers wanted to nail.

“We were obviously picking up from the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Electro’s kind of thrust into this world and he’s barely hanging on as we see him,” said Brendan Seals, the Visual Effects Supervisor for the Melbourne Luma Pictures Office. “He’s pure energy, he’s in an electrical form, he’s certainly not in a fully fledged form when Spider-Man discovers him in the forest. And so that activation of Electro’s energy after Spider-Man shoots the Doctor Strange magic web is what kind of activates that hue change.”

Foxx’s Electro in No Way Home is practically unrecognizable compared to his appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In his first appearance, his entire body was blue, with the sense that the electricity was bubbling within him. Fans weren’t keen on the design, and critics were hard on the character too. 

In IGN’s own review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we wrote, “[Y]ou never genuinely feel the sympathy towards Electro the film wants you to – he’s a far cry from Alfred Molina’s tragic genius, Doc Ock. Foxx is fine, but the role is misused, the depiction too brash, and he’s saddled with one or two cringe-worthy lines that would be more at home in a superhero film from the mid-Nineties.” 

Electro just didn’t work in that film — from his design, to his characterization, to his dialogue. So, the filmmakers behind No Way Home had to completely rewire the character into a flashier, punchier, and more… well… electric character. 

Enter Luma Pictures. Based in both Australia and Los Angeles, Luma got its start working on Underworld and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Luma would find its way into the MCU with Captain America: The First Avenger after working on a slew of superhero films, going on to provide key scenes and visual effects assets for movies like Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, and the entire Tom Holland Spider-Man trilogy.

For Spider-Man: No Way Home, Luma was tasked with redesigning Electro, which effectively meant starting over from scratch.

“For our sequence, it was really about the pre-Jamie Foxx state,” Seals said. “So he is fully energy form, surface energy, and certainly not subsurface or internal energy like we saw in [The Amazing Spider-Man 2]. We designed it from the ground up from scratch. And that was a really fun process with lots of ideas and lots of exploration.”

The first step was to fix Electro’s design and make his look more in line with the classic design. Electro is one of the wall crawler’s most famous villains, and his design in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 didn’t match what fans have come to expect. In No Way. In many comic iterations, Electro is surrounded by crackling electricity, with a star-shaped mask made of lightning bolts surrounding his face. Marvel and Luma wanted to give fans that nostalgia for the comics in this redesign.

Luma worked closely with Director Jon Watts and other Marvel team members on brainstorming ideas for how Electro’s look in his introductory fight scene could convey pure energy. The research went pretty deep, from looking into the functions of the human body, to creating a philosophy about how his energy should behave from moment to moment.

“The big basis for the design was based on the directionality of muscle fibers and skeletal flow of the bones, and because his energy is almost in a deteriorated state, in that we’ve picked him up from the [endpoint] of what many thought was his death in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. There’s almost this short lifespan idea, in that his energy doesn’t last long. He hasn’t gathered enough energy yet to ultimately become the character we see in the rest of the film. So the idea is the energy is quick, it’s staccato, it’s punctuated, but it doesn’t last long, so he needs to stay localized to and near the power lines to continue to draw energy and continue to build up his power over the course of the sequence.”

The new Electro needed to refresh his power, as if his energy was recycling itself. Not only did keeping Electro tethered to the power lines work from a conceptual character standpoint, it also served as the building block for the entire fight between Peter, Electro, and eventually Sandman. But, however cool Electro’s new design may look, another consideration is to make sure the villain doesn’t become too powerful. Seals says one of the important elements of crafting a compelling fight scene is placing limits on the villains to give our hero a chance to prevail.

“You’ve got to be mindful in the design process that you don’t come up with so many abilities or lack of constraints that it seems like Spider-Man would have just no hope of beating him,” Seals said. “In other words, Electro can’t move too far away from the power lines because then he won’t have his power source any longer. So he was, in a way, tethered to those power lines, meaning he couldn’t go as far as Spider-Man could.”

The results speak for themselves. In an interview with Marvel during No Way Home’s release week, Foxx himself praised the filmmakers on the work they did to make Electro cool again, saying the character now has “a little hipness to him.”

“That was the whole team,” Foxx said. “A whole Spider-Man team on how to make this guy cool. How do we make him impactful, but make him a little more grounded? When he acquired some [abilities], it really made sense in the way he was able to project himself.”

In our Spider-Man: No Way Home review, we said Foxx’s Electro helped drive the heartfelt empathy at the core of the movie — a complete turnaround from the core issues with the character in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. And, No Way Home is now a nominee for the Oscars’ Visual Effects award.

“These are films that a lot of us have grown up with and a lot of artists working in the industry are in the industry because of these films. To be able to work on the characters of these series that have such nostalgia attached to them… it’s a real pleasure. To reinvent them, and bring them together… and know the joy that’s gonna bring to audiences today, that’s a real joy for us.”

For more on Spider-Man: No Way Home, check out what Tom Holland is saying about the world’s reactions to the movie. And, see the concept art that hinted at Mysterio’s return in No Way Home.

Parts of this interview were edited for length and clarity.

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN. You can find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.