In the summer of 2002, Sam Raimi revolutionized the superhero movie genre with the release of Spider-Man. Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Defoe, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, and Rosemary Harris, Spider-Man paved the path for future superhero movies and introduced the concept of the summer blockbuster. Having earned a staggering $825 million against a budget of $139 million, Spider-Man became the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time, until it was toppled by Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
As the concept of a shared cinematic universe was yet to be conceived, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was pretty much a standalone superhero movie where the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was the sole protector of New York City. As the rights of various Marvel characters were acquired by different studio houses, imagining a superhero cinematic universe in the early 2000s was a distant dream.
Even so, director Sam Raimi managed to cater to a bit of fan-service by name dropping a few popular Marvel characters. In J. Jonah Jameson’s conversation with Peter Parker, the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange popped up as a potential name for Otto Octavius’ supervillain name, to which J. Jonah Jameson replied that the name is already taken. Peter Parker also name drops a member of the Fantastic Four, the Thing, during his wrestling match in the movie.
Though most fans would have noticed the Doctor Strange and the Thing reference, only a handful actually noticed that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man had slyly sneaked in an actual cameo of the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Though it does sound surprising, Sam Raimi did tease us with the original Man Without Fear, in the first movie.
Shortly after receiving his superpowers from the radioactive spider bite, Peter Parker tries to earn some quick cash and impress his long-time crush, Mary Jane Watson, with a car. The underground wrestling scene is quite memorable as former WWF wrestler Randy Savage made his appearance as the vicious Bone Saw McGraw. But things get interesting soon, only if you pay attention.
As Peter Parker waits for his turn to fight, another wrestler is carried away on a stretcher dressed in a peculiar costume. As the wrestler screams in agony that he can’t feel his legs, the scene might be brushed off as comedic relief. However, upon closer inspection, the wrestler’s peculiar yellow costume paired with horns makes him an important character in Marvel’s mythos.
In Netflix’s critically acclaimed show Daredevil, Matthew Murdock’s father, Jack Murdock, is a former boxer who takes up rigged matches to earn a few bucks. His death plays a major role in the formative years of Matthew Murdock aka Daredevil. In Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, the wrestler being carried away on the stretcher is Jack Murdock, a boxer past his prime. His peculiar yellow costume and horns actually served as an inspiration for Daredevil’s earlier costume. Nonetheless, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen did upgrade his costume in later years.
Although his cameo was very brief in the movie, the novelization had an additional scene where Jack is taken hostage in a robbery only to be saved by Spider-Man. Excited, Jack calls his son to tell him about the “daredevil” that saved him. In Sam Raimi’s version, Jack Murdock technically becomes the first Daredevil, since his job entails wearing the weird costume during fights. Interestingly enough, in Raimi’s version Peter Parker gained his powers before Matt Murdock even became a reputed lawyer and donned the costume. In the comics, Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man when Matt Murdock is already a lawyer and a vigilante going by the name of Daredevil.
Though Sam Raimi’s fourth Spider-Man installment never entered production, his Spider-Man trilogy still remains one of the greatest superhero trilogies of all time. A trailblazer, Raimi’s vision to bring Spider-Man to the big screen using incredible CGI in the early 2000s is a daunting task in itself. It’s safe to assume that the gigantic Marvel Cinematic Universe might have never existed, if not for Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. By making studio houses believe that there are a plethora of different characters who can be adapted on the big screen apart from Superman and Batman, Sam Raimi made every comic-book fan’s dream come true.
As fate would have it, Sam Raimi will return with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, replacing director Scott Derrickson. After his name dropping in the first Spider-Man movie, it’s only fitting that Sam Raimi should direct the sequel to Doctor Strange. As Sony and Marvel are pushing for the much-awaited Spider-Verse on the big screen, it won’t be a distant dream to see Tobey Maguire donning the costume once again in future MCU movies.