Marvel's Spider-Man 2's Mister Negative actor says working with Denzel Washington and Jennifer Garner helped bring his character to life

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 OTR
(Image credit: Sony)

In the grand pantheon of Spider-Man supervillains, Mister Negative is relatively new. Doctor Octopus, the eventual antagonist of Marvel's Spider-Man, first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man comics in the summer of 1963. Kraven the Hunter, the main big bad of Marvel's Spider-Man 2, was first introduced in August, 1964. And the likes of Rhino (1966), Vulture (1963), Electro (1964), Kingpin (1967), The Lizard (1963), and Sandman (1963) have all endured legacy feuds with Peter Parker's alter ego for the last 60 years. 

Even Venom, who likewise features prominently in Insomniac Games' incoming sequel, first hit the pages of print in the late 1980s – making this relative newbie a 30-odd-year-old fixture in the life and times of the web-shooting wonder. 


Marvel's Spider-Man 2

(Image credit: Sony)

This interview with Mister Negative himself is part of our week of Marvel's Spider-Man 2: On the Radar coverage

Mister Negative, on the other hand, made his first comic book appearance in May of 2007. Over the next decade, the character would feature here and there in various storylines, but it wasn't until Insomniac and Sony Interactive Entertainment's Marvel's Spider-Man of 2018 that Mister Negative forced his way into the spotlight. Played by Stephen Oyoung, the Taiwanese-American actor, voice actor, and stunt performer recalls a time when video game fans were less familiar with a name now synonymous with Spidey, as he appears in video games.

"A funny story about Mister Negative, just in terms of how new he was to some fans back before the first game," says Oyoung. "I vividly remember being at San Diego Comic-Con 2018, they'd just shown the trailer for the video game, they'd just announced Yuri [Lowenthal] as Spider-Man, and I then I remember them saying: 'Okay, here's Mister Negative, played by Steven Oyoung. I came out to 8,000 people – and you've never heard silence like that." 

"It felt like nobody knew who this character was, and nobody knew who I was. And so to see the reaction from then to now, that's so satisfying. I gotta give credit to the writing, you know, and obviously the animators. That's one thing about video game performance work that I love: you get so much you get such a boost from the writers and animators."

Stunt, man

marvel's spider-man 2

(Image credit: Sony)

"And then also to see my face in the actual game itself – all I have, I owe Insomniac, and I'm super grateful for that."

Oyoung says that besides helping to bring such a cool and interesting character as Mister Negative to life, simply being able to feature in such a prominent and influential video game was an incredible experience. For him, getting to play a character that was required to perform martial arts, who was a badass, who was bilingual, who was an antagonist but who was also sympathetic – all of these things combined to create the perfect mix of challenge and satisfaction in his work. 

"Up to that point in my career, I had definitely played a lot of bad guys," explains Oyoung. "But very rarely was I able to play a three-dimensional character that you could actually root for, and have all those cool, fun moments with. And then also to see my face in the actual game itself – all I have, I owe Insomniac, and I'm super grateful for that. Any kind of notoriety that I have now, you know, five years later, is from that game. If I ever get recognized, whether it's on a movie set or on the street, it's always by a gamer. And they recognize me for Mister Negative."

It's true that Oyoung's career prior to Marvel's Spider-Man saw him playing an array of bad guys, but his stunt work also saw him working with some pretty distinguished Hollywood talent. As a martial artist, he trained Denzel Washington in close-quarters combat while filming The Equalizer; and did the same for Adam Driver in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Keanu Reeves in 47 Ronin, and Jennifer Garner in Peppermint. 

"I seem to be either training them or getting killed by all these A-list stars," Oyoung says through laughter. "I learned a lot from watching the likes of Denzel, Keanu, Adam, Jennifer, and one thing I  definitely took away from this was that the top of the top, the best of the best, the ones that you idolize – at least the ones that I worked with – those people were so cool, like, so professional. And so chill with very little ego. Of course, they also got down to business whenever it was time to do so."

Mr Positive

Marvel's Spider-Man

(Image credit: Sony)

"Bryan Intihar told me right from the start, when I had questions like, was my behavior correct in this situation or that scenario, I remember him vividly telling me to: 'Just be you, man. Just do you'."

As for his own business, the fact that Mister Negative was considered lesser known in the landscape of Marvel supervillains actually helped Oyoung's process. Besides scant comic book, cartoon, and even Lego features, Oyoung didn't have an abundance of source material to pull from, which meant less external expectations pertaining to how this character might act and behave, which in turn allowed more scope for experimentation. 

Between his outings in Marvel's Spider-Man and its sequel, Oyoung filled the shoes of Jason Todd, aka Red Hook, in Gotham Knights, and likewise provided voice work on this year's Mortal Kombat 1 – two household names with passionate and dedicated fan bases. Not that Spider-Man as a dynasty is shy of vocal supporters, but the relative unfamiliarity with Mister Negative as a character ultimately played in Oyoung's favor. 

"I pretty much had free rein," he says. "And I think one of the mandates that [creative director] Bryan Intihar told me right from the start, when I had questions like, was my behavior correct in this situation or that scenario, I remember him vividly telling me to: 'Just be you, man. Just do you'."

Of course, this directive once more applied with the return of Mister Negative, aka Martin Li, in Marvel's Spider-Man 2. No spoilers as to the hows and whys of the antagonist's place in Peter Parker and Miles Morales' new and combined tale, but suffice to say, Oyoung was delighted to receive the call – and cannot wait for fans of Spider-Man, Miles, and Mister Negative to see how things unfold this time around. 

Oyoung says: "Oh, man, I was ecstatic when Insomniac reached out again. At first, I thought if Mister Negative were to come back, it would surely just be a cameo. It would just be his face on a newspaper or something along those lines. And then when I got a call… yeah, I was cautiously optimistic, because they didn't initially tell me the scope of Martin Li's return."

"Without spoiling too much for the fans, what I will say is that you'll get what you want. There is definitely a big competition between Miles Morales and Mister Negative. So it was awesome. I'm an actor, I love to work, I'll never turn down work, but I was also so pleased that they wanted me back. And yeah, we got to do some cool stuff for Mister Negative on this one." 

This feature forms part of our special On the Radar series celebrating the launch of Marvel's Spider-Man 2. You can follow all our week-long coverage in our On The Radar - Marvel's Spider-Man 2 hub.

Joe Donnelly
Features Editor, GamesRadar+

Joe is a Features Editor at GamesRadar+. With over seven years of experience working in specialist print and online journalism, Joe has written for a number of gaming, sport and entertainment publications including PC Gamer, Edge, Play and FourFourTwo. He is well-versed in all things Grand Theft Auto and spends much of his spare time swapping real-world Glasgow for GTA Online’s Los Santos. Joe is also a mental health advocate and has written a book about video games, mental health and their complex intersections. He is a regular expert contributor on both subjects for BBC radio. Many moons ago, he was a fully-qualified plumber which basically makes him Super Mario.

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