There’s no overstating the importance of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. Blade may have unlocked the door, and Bryan Singer’s X-Men cracked it open, but 2002’s Spider-Man was the record-breaking blockbuster that blew the door off its hinges, causing the flood of superhero movies that hasn’t ceased in the fifteen years since. Though it’s now been a decade since the arrival of Spider-Man 3 — a film which, while financially successful, was widely considered something of a letdown compared to the still beloved Spider-Man 2 — the legacy of Raimi’s lucrative series is still felt today.
Soon, Marvel Studios will be lighting up theaters across the world with its MCU-based Spider-Man: Homecoming. While that movie will almost certainly be a smashing success, let’s dream for a moment: theoretically, what if the success of Homecoming convinced Sony to get Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire together again one last time, to finally create the worthwhile conclusion that the old series deserves?
Sure, it’s unlikely. But it’s not impossible either, given that Sony is developing its own non-MCU Spider-Man properties like Venom. Raimi has said he’d love to come back. And let’s not forget, there was a time when no one believed the old X-Men cast would ever come back, and Days of Future Past blew that notion sky high. Either way, let’s have some fun with the concept, and consider 15 Things We’d Love to See if a Raimi/Maguire Spider-Man 4 Ever Happened.
15. A True Conclusion to the Story
Here’s the big one. While Spider-Man 3 at least had the grace not to end in a cliffhanger, it certainly wasn’t the conclusion that the series deserved. After the grounded, heartfelt, and bittersweet Spider-Man 2, the third movie was a step backwards.
On a story level, it didn’t come close to tying up the themes that had driven the series since the beginning. At its core, Raimi’s Spider-Man movies were always about the journey of a regular boy becoming a responsible man. The first movie depicted him as a teenager. The second movie weighed him down with the familiar pressures of adulthood: bills, relationship woes, time management, debt. The third movie showed him finally start to succeed, only to have to relearn his humility… but by the time the movie finishes, he’s still only in college.
A theoretical Spider-Man 4 would show us the Peter that the previous three movies built up to: an established adult, with a career, a family, new responsibilities, and everything to lose. To see how this would work, let’s begin by taking some hints from this year’s critical darling, Logan.
14. An Older Peter, a la Logan
Seriously. Logan, in addition to being brilliantly written and performed, is the perfect blueprint for how to make the aging superhero trope work. That’s not to say that a Spider-Man movie should ever be so dark, grim, or violent as Logan. It wouldn’t fit the character. But while Peter is a lighter character than Logan, let’s not forget that the core themes of the Spider-Man legend are seriously heavy: responsibility, guilt, and loss.
For Spider-Man 4, we’d want to see a Peter Parker who has fully grown into the sort of responsible adult his Uncle Ben would have always wanted him to be. But Peter being older doesn’t mean his struggles are over; actually, his struggles would be even greater. An older Peter would have a career to worry about, a family to take care of — maybe even children — and thus, responsibilities far greater than those of a 19-year-old Peter. All of which would mean that any potential supervillains could really, really threaten him on a personal level far more terrifying than Norman Osborn could ever manage.
Is Peter still Spider-Man at this point? Maybe he’s retired, maybe he’s not. Either way, it’s likely that he’d probably look back on his old adventures with a sense of loss, through the same rose-colored glasses that so many people view their past. If he is retired, the events of the movie will, of course, force him to be Spider-Man again… one last time.
13. Peter and Mary Jane finally Married
This was one of the biggest storylines left disappointingly unresolved at the end of the third movie. In the opening moments of Spider-Man, Peter — as the narrator — tells the audience that his story “like any other story worth telling, is all about a girl.” In Spider-Man 2, Peter says to Mary Jane that he always “imagined you getting married on a hilltop.” In Spider-Man 3, we see Peter’s burst of egomania almost ruin the thing he loves the most, though the conclusion certainly suggests that they’ll probably find a way to repair the fractures.
Spider-Man 4 could finish this narrative arc by showing them already having married, and most likely, with children. Honestly, it just makes sense. Whether Mary Jane survives the movie is another question entirely, but them getting married is a storyline that is just too developed throughout the films, and it needs resolution.
12. No Pesky Studio Interference
This is probably the most obvious one on the list. If there’s one thing that has caused more damage to the Spider-Man movies than anything else — both the Raimi and Marc Webb-headed franchises — it’s the infamous meddling of studio executives. The single best film of either series is Spider-Man 2, and it’s no coincidence that it’s the movie that had the least studio interference. From open to close, Spider-Man 2 sparkles with Raimi’s trademark camera angles, character moments, and zany humor.
By now, it’s a well known fact that the studio pressured Raimi to include Venom in Spider-Man 3. From what we know, the version of Spider-Man 4 that Raimi was developing back then was also being rushed forward so fast that Raimi stepped away rather than being involved in another disappointing film. The same fate befell Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man 2, which got jam-packed with character setups in Sony’s effort to launch a Spider-centric cinematic universe.
11. A Great Villain… or Villains
One of the most important parts of getting Spider-Man 4 right would be having a great villain. Since this would be the story of an older Peter Parker, the baddie would have the terrible duty of threatening everything about the life that Peter has built for himself. The dynamic would need to be personal, intimate, and truly deadly.
Raimi wanted Vulture for the original version of Spider-Man 4, but now that Vulture’s antagonizing Spidey in Homecoming — complete with a surely terrific performance from Michael Keaton — that ship has sailed. Instead, Spider-Man 4 would need to do a new villain. Luckily, Spidey’s rogues gallery is full of options such as Scorpion, Shriek, Hobgoblin, or maybe even a serious powerhouse like Morlun.
Alternatively, the film could also pit Spidey up against the Sinister Six. While Doc Ock and the Green Goblin are dead in this timeline, the movie version of the Six could be built of “legacy” villains, inspired by the foes from Spidey’s past. For example, it could include the Hobgoblin — a man using the old Goblin tech — as well as a new person wearing the Venom symbiote. Doc Ock could be brought back as a “zombie” Ock, ala Spider-Man: Reign, where his sentient tentacles are carrying around Otto’s corpse. However, this approach might get too busy, in which case it might be better to have only one villain, such as just the Hobgoblin/Morlun/etc. on their own; that’d be up to the screenwriters to figure out.
10. A Brutal Final Battle
Whether the grand finale sees Spidey showing down against one villain or six, one thing that would absolutely be necessary is a deeply personal, brutal final battle at the film’s conclusion, one which sees the aged web-slinger up against the fight of his life.
For comparison, look back on the final battle of the first Spider-Man movie. Though nothing beats the train scene in Spider-Man 2 for wall-crawling superhero action, the last fight between Peter Parker and Norman Osborn was the most visceral fight of the entire series. In that scene, the Goblin absolutely tears Spider-Man apart, beating him within an inch of his life. Until the very last moments, it truly feels like Spidey might just die, even though it’s supposed to be the start of a franchise. But in Spider-Man 4, the chances of Spider-Man dying would be entirely real, since it’d be the final film of the Raimi series, so this last fight could easily be the most intense in superhero movie history.
9. Callbacks to Some of the Big Moments from the Series (within reason)
Since Spider-Man 4 would obviously be a major nostalgia project, it’d be expected that the film would reference all of the now-classic moments from the original trilogy. Fans would love to see little callbacks to the train scene, maybe a shot of the George Washington Bridge, maybe “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” played in the background of a bar, Doctor Octopus’s tentacles hung up in a museum; reminders that all of the events from the original really did happen.
At the same time, balance would be necessary. Again, using Logan as an example, note the way that it twice referred to the Liberty Island incident from the first X-Men, but didn’t hit the audience over the head with it. Subtlety would be key here.
8. A Cameo of Bruce Campbell as Mysterio
Next to Stan “the Man” Lee, the most beloved recurring cameo within the Sam Raimi series was that of Bruce Campbell, Raimi’s childhood friend, frequent collaborator, and the man who has famously wielded a boomstick against a certain army of darkness. Campbell appears throughout all three movies, always in a small but integral role. From 2002 onwards, message boards were clamoring for Campbell to appear in a bigger role, with many fans cheering on the idea of Campbell as Mysterio, the so-called Master of Illusion.
Well, as released concept art for the canceled Spider-Man 4 reveals, Raimi was going to throw these fans a bone. Campbell was going to appear as Mysterio. Since it’s rather unlikely that Mysterio will ever get a starring role in a Spider-Man movie, a new Spider-Man 4 would be the perfect chance to finally bring this common fan dream to life, if only for a few minutes.
7. Danny Elfman’s Theme
C’mon, we know full well that if Spider-Man 4 ever happened, this would be one of the most exciting parts of all: the title suspends from a spiderweb, the opening credits drop, and the theme song that we all remember blasts from the speakers.
Danny Elfman’s Spider-Man theme is, other than the 1960s cartoon song, the music that is most identified with the character. There are videos online of Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man scenes edited to include Elfman’s music, and it’s easy to see why. Elfman’s music is to Spider-Man what the John Williams theme is to Superman. Even if the rest of this theoretical movie didn’t live up to expectations, just the chance to see Spidey swing across the screen to that Danny Elfman theme, one last time, would be more than worth the price of admission.
6. Updates on old fan-favorite Characters
Though Peter Parker, Mary Jane, Aunt May, and Harry Osborn formed the narrative core of Raimi’s Spider-Man series, the movies were filled with Peter’s friends, coworkers, professors, and more. While some certainly deserved a bigger role than they got — we would have loved to see Robbie Robertson a bit more — Raimi’s movies were filled with supporting characters straight out of the old Lee/Ditko/Romita comics, and we’d be interested to see what happened to these old faces.
For example, it’d be great to see Peter becoming friends with an adult Flash Thompson, as it happened in the comics. Though it’s probably a little late for Dylan Baker’s Curt Connors to become the Lizard, since The Amazing Spider-Man series beat him to the punch, he’d still fit nicely into a supporting role. Though Peter probably isn’t renting from Mr. Ditkovich family anymore, he and his daughter Ursula could pop in for a scene or two. There’s also Betty Brant, Robbie, Hoffman…
5. Peter Parker Becoming a Teacher at Midtown High
In the comics, one of the coolest story elements from the JMS/Romita Jr. years was when Peter decided to move on from working at the Bugle, and went to work as a science teacher for Midtown High, the same high school where his web-slinging career began.
For Spider-Man 4, this would work perfectly, and would bring Peter’s story full circle: we began by seeing him as a student, and in the final movie, we’d see him as a teacher, helping students like the one was at the beginning of the series. This would also be a big chance to show Peter in a full time, established career, demonstrating how much he’s grown since the end of Spider-Man 3. In addition, being a teacher would bring a lot of new stresses into Peter’s life, since it’s a famously underpaid profession. Coming into class with new bruises all the time might risk his job, as well. Being Peter Parker, he’d also feel the full weight of the responsibility he has to his students.
4. Aunt May’s Death, a la Amazing Spider-Man #400
We haven’t mentioned Aunt May yet, despite the fact that Rosemary Harris’s performance was one of the biggest parts of the Raimi series, and this is why: this theoretical Spider-Man 4 should show her death, and it should use the comic book Amazing Spider-Man #400 as a basis for it. In that issue, Aunt May is depicted as being in her final days. Peter, who is in denial about his mother figure’s impending death, brings her to the top of the Empire State Building — where she reveals not only that she knows his secret identity, but that she’s always known, since the beginning.
This would fit perfectly with the Raimi movies, particularly Spider-Man 2, where Aunt May gives her famous “I believe there’s a hero in all of us” speech, basically spelling out for the audience that she knows without stating it outright. This twist also fits perfectly with the real life metaphor, as well: how many people have believed they “got away” with hiding something as teenagers, only to find out years later that their parents knew the whole time?
3. A Spiritual Sequel to Spider-Man 2
Yes, yes, Spider-Man 3 was a “sequel” to Spider-Man 2. But it wasn’t, not really. In tone, thematics, and style, Spider-Man 3 had far more in common with the first Spider-Man movie than the second. Spider-Man 1 and 3 are bright, comic booky, colorful stories with more lighthearted plot progression. Spider-Man 2 was a movie that went in a boldly different direction: the color palette is muted greys and browns, far more realistic, dingier. The movie’s story is built on slow-paced character moments, like Peter revealing to Aunt May his role in Ben’s death, rather than high-flying ones. The tone is bittersweet, where every success comes with a little bit of failure. Even the movie’s jokes are as depressing as they are funny. There’s a lot of hope, particularly at the end, but it’s realistic hope in a not-quite-perfect world.
2. A “Successor” to the Spider-Man Mantle
This isn’t a necessity, of course. But if we study the blueprint of the other two successful “final chapter” superhero movies so far, Logan and The Dark Knight Rises, both of them employ the motif of the hero passing down their legacy to the next generation. If Spider-Man 4 were positioned as the closing chapter in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man saga, whether Peter dies or not, the idea of legacy should surely play a role in the movie’s plot. This is an easy way to do it.
So, in the movie’s conclusion, it would only make sense to establish that even if Peter is gone/retired/et cetera, “Spider-Man” lives on. Who should this successor be? The obvious choice is the insanely popular Miles Morales, a character fans would love to see on screen. As stated earlier, he could be introduced as one of Peter’s students. But Miles isn’t the only option. In the comics, Peter’s daughter May “Mayday” Parker becomes Spider-Girl, and this could also work. Either way, it’d make an amazing final scene to see one of these heroes swinging into the sunset, complete with Danny Elfman’s theme.
1. J.K. Simmons Returning as J. Jonah Jameson
Finally, the biggest reason that this movie has to happen someday is right here. We know it. Sony knows it. J.K. Simmons himself must know it, too.
Simmons left such deep footprints that even today, the character of J. Jonah Jameson has never been recast, despite how important he is in the comics. There have been two new Spider-Mans in that time, but no new Jameson. And is that really such a surprise? Who could ever live up to J.K. Simmons’s unforgettable performance as the fast-talking, tyrannical newspaper dictator who’ll stop at nothing to smear Spider-Man’s reputation across the city? No one, that’s who.
Bringing back J.K. Simmons as Jameson would, on its own, be worth every penny in the budget. Here’s hoping that we get to see it happen someday.
What other characters, plot points, or castings would you love to see if Spider-Man 4 ever came out? How old do you think this Spidey should be, and which villain should he be going up against? Let us know in the comments!
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