Fresh details have emerged, regarding the Norman Osborn character’s potential role in Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man universe film, Silver & Black. The Spider-Man villain is one of several antagonists associated with the web-slinger in the world of Marvel Comics, rumored to appear and/or be referenced during the Silver Sable/Black Cat movie in some capacity. However, for the time being, the eponymous Spider-Man series antiheroes are the only characters officially confirmed to appear in the Silver & Black comic book adaptation.
Gina Prince-Bythewood, fresh off directing the pilot episode for Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger TV series, is currently revising the Silver & Black script ahead of the start of production on the film, later this year (for an early 2019 theatrical release date). As such, the movie’s screenplay and any/all world-building that it does for Sony’s Marvel Movie Universe could be in something of a state of flux right now. Even so, it appears that Norman Osborn’s appearance – or, rather, his non-appearance – may be one of the elements of the story that have been locked into place.
According to That Hashtag Show, Norman Osborn will “appear” in Silver & Black in voice only and won’t be showing up in the actual flesh. Osborn Chemical Senior Vice-President Charles Standish will instead appear onscreen in the film, as a representative for the offscreen head of the Osborn corporation. Based on That Hashtag Show‘s report, Standish’s role in Silver & Black will be comparable to that of Rajit Ratha (Irrfan Khan), who served as the “stand-in” for Norman Osborn in director Marc Webb’s 2012 reboot of the Spider-Man franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man.

It appears that part of the reasoning behind having Osborn heard, but not seen, in Silver & Black is that it will allows more flexibility room for the character’s future appearances in both Sony’s Marvel Universe and the actual Marvel Cinematic Universe. As noted by That Hashtag Show, the Norman Osborn character is a key player in a number of famous Marvel comic book storylines (such as Secret Invasion) that fans hope to see adapted one day for the MCU. As such, not having an actor play Mr. Osborn onscreen should, in theory, make it easier to recast the role with a bigger name, should Sony and Marvel decide to make Norman an important player who can crossover between Sony’s film and MCU, following his debut in Silver & Black.
Following Sony’s failed attempt to jumpstart an Amazing Spider-Man film universe with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 back in 2014, the studio appears to have learned something from the experience. This news regarding Norman Osborn suggests that Sony is indeed being more cautious when it comes to laying the foundation for their second attempt at creating a shared comic book universe of its own, starting with the launch of director Ruben Flesicher’s Venom in the fall of 2018, followed by Silver & Black less than six months later. Whether or not the final outcome will be different this time around as a result, of course, remains to be seen.