Just like the abomination that was Batman and Robin (1997) inadvertently cost Steve Buscemi or Jeff Goldblum a chance to play a super-villain on the big screen, it looks as though Spider-Man 3 may have cost John Malkovich the same opportunity.

The 56-year-old has spoken for the first time about missing out on portraying the dreaded Vulture in Sam Raimi’s proposed Spider-Man 4 – the one in which Tobey Maguire would be saddling up again as the web-slinger.

Of course, while a fourth Spider-Man film is in the pipeline, it will not feature Raimi behind the camera nor Maguire in front of it, with Sony Pictures intending to go in a new direction with the franchise – a reboot with a younger cast and Marc Webb in the director’s hot seat. And presumably no Vulture, and no Malkovich.

Speaking with Collider, Malkovich expressed concern that the character of The Vulture was somewhat to blame for the demise of Raimi’s Spider-Man 4.

“Well, I think a lot of the people who sort of follow that genre… I’m not sure, I never really spoke with Sam about this, but I’m not sure they — maybe the kind of fanbase, the fanboys — either didn’t approve of that character as an adversary for him to some extent…or maybe the studio. Or maybe that was totally unrelated to why it fell apart.”

Though the real blame should probably be directed at Sony and the entire too-many-eggs-in-one-basket affair of Spider-Man 3. The movie made over $300 million at the US box-office, but was slammed by both critics and general cinema-goers for the convoluted way it played out.

Up until January this year, it was believed Raimi and Maguire would both return for a third sequel, with Malkovich and Anne Hathaway as the villains; the well-respected Malkovich was perfect for the role of the bald-headed Vulture.

Sony’s recent decision to reboot the franchise has meant that for the second time, Malkovich has missed out on playing a villain in a Spider-Man movie: he was overlooked for the role of the Green Goblin in the 2002 original.

Malkovich went on to tell Collider that he was certainly up for strapping on the vulture wings, and is disappointed it didn’t happen.

“Yes [I was disappointed]. But because I like Sam and I like Tobey [Maguire] and all that stuff, and the producers, two of whom I’d met before because I’d been offered the first [film] … I came to like them, so sure why not? But it didn’t play out.”

The situation has shades of Batman Triumphant, which was in development and scheduled for a 1999 release – until the misfired Batman and Robin caused it to be scrapped and director Joel Schumacher was rightly banned from ever helming another Batman movie.

The main adversary for the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder in that proposed fifth installment of the Tim Burton-Schumacher series was to be Scarecrow, with first Goldblum and then Buscemi the front-runner for the part. The role of Dr Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow, was eventually filled by Cillian Murphy for Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005), but in a very different way to what Schumacher had planned for Batman Triumphant. In the script Scarecrow was to bring back The Joker as a gas-induced hallucination.

While things worked out well for Batman and his millions of fans, Buscemi would have made a great super-villain. He still would.

Likewise two-time Academy Award nominee Malkovich. Who knows – he could still get a call from Spider-Man producers. If not there’s plenty more superhero movies in the works that could utilize with his considerable talents.

How about as Lex Luthor for a new Superman movie?

Source: Collider