At the start of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 there is a stolen van with plutonium that bears a passing resemblance (grey, van shaped) to the one Doc Brown has in Back To The Future.

I had assumed the van was merely a reference to Back To The Future, but on closer inspection the vans seem quite different. Furthermore, Doc Brown's van contains the modified DeLorean, not his stolen plutonium.

still from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 showing the grey armoured van containing the stolen plutonium.still from Back To The Future, showing Doc Brown's van which is unarmoured

Was it a reference, or was the plutonium stolen for another reason?

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  • @Valorum my first thought was to power my time-traveling car. I don't know about you.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Dec 27, 2021 at 16:54
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    Interestingly, the Plutonium-238 mentioned in the film (as "highly explosive") isn't actually explosive. It's used primarily as a heat source for small thermal electric generators.
    – Valorum
    Dec 27, 2021 at 17:18
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    The PU238 is not explosive, or even fissile. Cannot possibly make a nuke bomb out of it. But it is quite ridonculously expensive, costing a bit more than 190 times as much as the same mass of gold. It's a real red-hot commodity!
    – PcMan
    Dec 28, 2021 at 9:01

1 Answer 1


The guy stealing the plutonium from the armoured-car is a 'former Russian mobster' by the name of Aleksei Sytsevich. There's really no good indication that he and his gang are stealing the plutonium for any reason other than that it has inherent value (over a million dollars a kilo in real life) and that it can be used as a "powerful explosive".

That being said, based on the viral marketing that went along with Spider-Man 2, it would appear that Spider-Man and other the other costumed superheroes have provoked a response from the crime gangs of New York who are now in an arms-race to steal advanced tech, presumably in order to kill supers and build advanced weaponry for use in crime.

With reports of Russian mob activity at an all-time high in the city, many have wondered who these (mostly) men are and what they are trying to accomplish. New Yorkers are no strangers to organized crime, but this time it seems different. ... Mob activity is the suspected cause of a spike in crime across all five boroughs. Not content with hijacking retails goods, sports betting, or drugs, more crime families have become involved in high-tech crimes such as the theft of microchips, processors, experimental metal alloys, and advanced weaponry. Fancy Dan Brito said during his arraignment for the recent Brighton Beach shootout, Everything has a price. Including the head of so-called superheroes.

The Daily Bugle on TUmblr - Viral Marketing site for The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Whether this stuff is for sale to the highest bidder, stolen 'to order' for a supervillain or for the Brighton Beach Gang's personal use, we just don't know.

  • When I watched the movie, I thought all these scenes with Aleksei Sytsevich really felt awkward and disconnected from the rest of the plot. In my opinion, it was a terribly clumsy way to set Paul Giamatti up as the Rhino for a sequel.
    – Stef
    Dec 28, 2021 at 11:00
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    @Stef - I'm pretty sure it was mostly in there to tie in with the video game which extends the sequence
    – Valorum
    Dec 28, 2021 at 11:10

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