Created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee in 1962, Spider-Man is one of the most popular comic book characters ever made. The flagship character of Marvel, Spider-Man has been both critically acclaimed and commercially successful in its almost 60 years of publication.
Bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker gains spider-like abilities along with superhuman strength and reflexes. As a teenager, his entire life is turned upside down with his newly found powers. A lack of a mentor and wealth forces Spider-Man to juggle his daily life and vigilante crime-fighting persona which makes him quite relatable. Amassing his fan base among teenagers struggling with high-school love, homework, and family issues, Spider-Man quickly rose to gain massive popularity. As the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, Peter Parker often finds himself dealing with loneliness, rejections, and low self-esteem, the problems most teenagers face.
Spider-Man’s commercial success was a surprise for Marvel as he was never meant to be a popular hero. To give a brief idea about his popularity, Spider-Man was ranked alongside the Incredible Hulk, Bob Dylan, and Che Guevera as a revolutionary icon in various college campuses. The Amazing Spider-Man is one of the longest-running comic book storylines which ran for 50 years!
In the year 2002, Spider-Man truly went global as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man received positive reviews and earned a whopping $825 million in the box-office. The first movie of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, it is credited for redefining the superhero era of movies along with the concept of a summer blockbuster. Spider-Man 2 (2004) was critically acclaimed and is still considered as one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. This cemented the popularity of Spider-Man all across the world, making him a popular household name before Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America had even launched themselves.
After receiving lukewarm reviews for Spider-Man 3, Sam Raimi abandoned the project. As a result, Sony Pictures had to reboot the character as a part of its deal to retain the character. Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man duology was commercially successful but received mixed reviews which resulted in Sony striking a deal with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Lo and behold, we finally had the web-slinger back with his roster of heroes with Tom Holland playing the part.
Despite having so many re-incarnations, there have been instances of cancelled Spider-Man movies some of which seemed very promising. Let’s check them, shall we?
James Cameron’s Spider-Man
Before Spider-Man was Sony and Columbia Pictures’ property, it belonged to now-defunct Carolco Pictures. Carolco Pictures had developed two scripts for two Spider-Man movies. One was written by Barry Cohem and Ted Newsom which featured Doctor Octopus as the main antagonist. The second script was developed by the visionary director James Cameron which had Electro and Sandman as the big baddies of the movie.
James Cameron’s script was a matured version which featured Peter Parker gaining his newly found powers drawn in parallel of going through puberty. Cameron wished the movie to be R-Rated as it featured violence and some grisly dialogues too. One of the known dialogues from the undeveloped movie was “If you worthless chunks of vomit show your faces around here again, I’ll decorate my Christmas tree with your intestines“. Pretty dark and edgy for a friendly neighbourhood superhero. But, the most disturbing part of the movie was an elaborate mating scene between Peter Parker and Mary Jane on the Brooklyn Bridge. As Peter Parker explains Mary Jane about the mating rituals of spiders, he bound her to the bridge with his webs and had sex. Phew!
Leonardo DiCaprio was considered to play the role of Peter Parker in the movie.
Cannon Film’s Spider-Man
This marks the first failed attempt at a live-action movie of Spider-Man as the now-defunct Cannon Films had the rights. Considering Spider-Man as a monster horror property, Leslie Stevens was roped in to write the script. Imagining Peter Parker as a giant human tarantula, Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) was hoped to helm the project.
Vehemently opposed by Stan Lee, the script was abandoned and a new script was developed. In the new script, Spider-Man was mentored by Doctor Octopus who later turned to be his primary antagonist. For the movie, Tom Cruise was considered for the role of Spider-Man. But sadly, the movie entered developmental hell and was never produced.
Before the deal with Marvel Cinematic Universe was finalised, a Sinister Six spin-off was considered to be released alongside Venom. Though the Venom movie was able to see the light of the day with Tom Hardy playing the titular character, Sinister Six was never finalized.
But all hopes are not lost as there are speculations that the Sinister Six movie might actually be released in the Sony Spider-Man Universe. As the upcoming sequel to Venom is underway, Sony also recently released the trailer of Morbius starring Jared Leto. With Michael Keaton confirmed to appear for a cameo in Morbius, we might actually see the Sinister Six on the silver screen. Let’s hope they all are based in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Amazing Spider-Man 3 & 4
Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man was a commercial success despite receiving mixed reviews. Critics praised Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Spider-Man. Being the most comic book accurate when it came to the iconic Spider-Man’s red and blue costume, there are a considerable number of fans who wanted The Amazing Spider-Man to move forward beyond the second movie.
Despite striking visuals and attractive cinematography, a weak plot derailed the plans of The Amazing Spider-Man 3 & 4. The chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone was well praised, but alas!
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy with Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man paved the way for the modern superhero genre on the silver screen. The critical acclaim garnered by the first two movies was sadly outdone by Spider-Man 3 as it received mixed reviews. As a result, Sam Raimi’s plans for Spider-Man 4 were abandoned.
Spider-Man 4 was set to release in 2011. Raimi had roped in Anne Hathaway to play the role of Black Cat along with John Malkovich to portray the Vulture. The movie was planned to rebuild the relationship between Peter Parker and Mary Jane after the events of Spider-Man 3. But unfortunately, the movie was cancelled and Spider-Man was rebooted. Interestingly, Sam Raimi will be directing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Maybe, a cameo of both Maguire and Garfield donning the costume is on the way?