B.J. Novak Revealed To Be ‘Alistair Smythe’ In “Amazing Spider-Man 2”

B.J. Novak has had an eclectic acting career. A popular, if under-recognized, stand-up comedian, Novak is probably best known for his role as “Ryan” on NBC’s The Office. So is he a comedy actor? Kind of. But he has also co-starred in Inglourious Basterds, a movie where he kills Nazis and Saving Mr. Banks, a movie where he writes music for a Nazi Sympathizer.

Now he’s set to add “comic book movie” to his resume.

Director Marc Webb informally confirmed that Novak will be playing the role of Alistair Smythe in the ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ sequel.

So who is this Alistair Smythe? Will he fight alongside Spidey or will he plot against him?

Unless the movie does a complete 180, Alistair Smythe will be a supervillain whose weapon of choice is robots.

It’s not clear how much of his story will make it into the movie (and what direction Webb will go with it) but Smythe has quite a backstory in the comics. Smythe’s father hates Spiderman and has founded a company whose sole purpose is to find ways to kill the wall-crawler. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and Smythe’s father is killed by radiation poisoning. Smythe takes over his father’s Spider-man-killing robots business (hey, it’s a niche market but probably lucrative) and sets to work on creating an army of them. Called the Spider-Slayers, the series of robots attempt, and subsequently fail, to kill Spider-man.

If this sounds a lot like Green Goblin’s story arc, that’s because it is. Spider-man may want to start enforcing a scorched earth policy regarding supervillains with children. It’s almost inevitable that those children will grow up to blame their father’s deaths not on the fact that the men were clearly criminally insane, but on poor Spider-man. Obviously, Spider-man shouldn’t kill the young and innocent children of his foes, but maybe at least get them some kind of trauma therapy where they can work through their feelings in a productive, non-homicidal way.

Back to Smythe.

After he is inevitably defeated, he is locked up in an insane asylum, but gets out and – The recidivism rate for supervillains being quite high, what else? – immediately goes back to work making even deadlier Spider-man-killing robots. Perhaps anticipating that these would also fail in their job, Alistair secretly begins work on a super suit for himself. Rather than rely on A.I. killer robots, he becomes the ultimate Spider-Slayer.

It’s at this point that you realize that B.J. Novak isn’t an obvious choice for Smythe. This is what Smythe looks like in the comics:

 

Actor B.J. Novak arrives to the 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.
14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards – Arrivals
Shrine Auditorium
Los Angeles, California United States
January 27, 2008
Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage.com
To license this image (15357216), contact WireImage.com

And this is B.J. Novak:

B.J. Novak looks like a young B.J. Novak. It’s hard to imagine behind those baby blue eyes would hide a seething hatred for Spider-man.

It’s not an obvious choice, but in a season of not-so-obvious casting for super hero movies, I’m prepared to let this one play out. Novak is a capable actor and ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ is in the very capable hands of Marc Webb, director of the highly acclaimed first Spider-man reboot. Interestingly, he also directed one episode of The Office. Maybe it was there that he heard B.J. Novak casually remark that he planned to avenge his father’s death by murdering the man who killed him and Webb thought, “Now there’s an idea…”

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