Although Spider-Man 3 disappointed fans, the critical reaction to that movie wasn’t the reason the franchise got rebooted. In fact, Sam Raimi and Sony were fully committed to doing Spider-Man 4 and were pretty deep into the planning stages when the plug got pulled.
Spider-Man 3 was actually the most financially successful of Raimi’s Spider-Man films, so he was going to get at least one more shot at the franchise before he ultimately elected to call it quits.
With as much planning as went into Spider-Man 4, there have actually been a lot of details released about what the movie was going to be like. Various actors and writers have confirmed things like new love interests, new villains, and various ideas batted around for what the story would have been. So if you’re disappointed Raimi’s run stopped at a trilogy, we can shed a little light on what his next story would have been like.
These are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Sam Raimi’s Cancelled Spider-Man 4.
15. MYSTERIO, SHOCKER, RHINO, PROWLER, AND STILT MAN WOULD HAVE APPEARED
Recent story boards for Spider-Man 4 have revealed that rather than reduce the number of villains after Spider-Man 3 that we actually would have seen even more. We know for sure that Mysterio was being considered since there were concept sketches revealing it, but apparently Shocker, Rhino, and Stilt Man were also likely to show up according to illustrator Jeffrey Henderson. And that’s not even counting the movie’s main villain.
Were they repeating the mistake of Spider-Man 3 again by spreading the story too thin? Actually, it looks like Mysterio and the others would have only been showing up as minor crooks that Spidey took down in a crime-stopping montage. The crew knew there were certain villains they wouldn’t want to devote a whole movie to, but they still wanted to show off Spider-Man’s familiar antagonists.
14. PLANNED TO FILM IT BACK TO BACK WITH SPIDER-MAN 5
If you thought that Spider-Man 4 was planned to be the big finale of Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, think again. While it’s true that most superhero franchises fizzle out and have to be rebooted after three movies, the plan was always to do more movies after Spider-Man 4. In fact, Sony had so much confidence that Spider-Man 4 could get the franchise back on track that there were even rumors they wanted to do Spider-Man 5 immediately following Spider-Man 4.
That’s definitely a risky move, and usually something we only see in franchises that couldn’t stand on their own with just one movie, such as Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy which was filmed without a break. But the earnings for the Spider-Man films were only continuing to grow with each movie, so maybe it could have worked. Every Spider-Man film following Raimi’s trilogy has still made over $700 million each, so the fans are definitely still interested.
13. FELICIA HARDY WOULD HAVE APPEARED AS BLACK CAT OR VULTURESS
We know for sure that Peter’s love interest Felicia Hardy was going to be featured in the movie, but her role was pretty ambiguous.
Felicia is typically known for being the Black Cat, an alter ego that varies between being a minor villain, a heroic sidekick, and even a love interest for Peter. Black Cat is always a fun character to add to the mix for Peter with how many roles she can fill in his story. But there were actually rumors that Felicia’s role might have been something totally different.
Early rumors about Felicia’s role had her being the daughter of the Vulture.
Peter would have defeated the older Vulture early on in the movie, but then Felicia was supposedly going to take up her father’s legacy and become the Vulturess to seek revenge against Spider-Man. We have yet to see a female villain in the Spider-Man movies, so it would have been something fresh for the franchise, as well as for Felicia’s character.
12. BRUCE CAMPBELL WOULD HAVE BEEN MYSTERIO
While Bruce Campbell is best known as being Ash from the Evil Dead, fans of the actor no doubt recognized his cameos in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. His last role in the franchise wound up being a waiter who tried to help Peter in his plan to propose to Mary Jane, but repeatedly misunderstood Peter’s cues. It was Campbell’s funniest cameo of the three times he appeared in the trilogy, but the plan was to have him return yet again for a more serious role.
Had Spider-Man 4 come to fruition, Campbell would have returned for another cameo in a more memorable role. It turns out he was actually being considered for being used to play Mysterio in the movie. Once Mysterio’s signature helmet fell off we would have gotten a look at Campbell looking disgruntled about his capture.
11. ANNE HATHAWAY WAS A STRONG CANDIDATE FOR FELICIA HARDY
While few of the roles had been settled on in terms of who would be playing them, various actors had still thrown their hats into the ring for consideration.
With Felicia Hardy planned to be introduced in Spider-Man 4, actresses were trying out for what would have likely been a pretty substantial role. One of those actresses was Anne Hathaway, and evidently her audition went pretty well, with Raimi reportedly being impressed by her.
Though we never got a chance to see if Hathaway would have been the final pick, her consideration for the part is kind of ironic. Hardy’s alter ego Black Cat has long been compared to Catwoman, and not long afterwards Hathaway would wind up playing Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. Maybe word got out on Hathaway’s audition and landed her the part with DC. Either that or she was just really determined to play a cat-themed superhero.
10. THE LIZARD WAS CONSIDERED FOR THE MOVIE
One thing the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies did well was plant the seeds for the characters that would become villains in the later movies. The first movie saw the end of Norman Osborn but already set the stage for Harry to take up the legacy of the Green Goblin. Then the second movie brought in Doctor Octopus, but by the end of the movie Harry had completed his transition to an antagonist. The third movie played into the tragedy of Uncle Ben’s death to introduce the Sandman while closing out the stories of Venom and Harry’s Green Goblin.
A villain had been lying in wait across all three movies, ready to debut in the fourth.
There was little doubt Doctor Curt Connors’ scaly alter ego would show up at some point. In the planning stages of Spider-Man 4, the Lizard was someone Raimi considered finally unveiling. The desire to get the scaly monster on screen can be seen with how the Amazing Spider-Man reboot immediately had the Lizard take center stage. Unfortunately the Raimi trilogy’s slow burn for the character never paid off.
9. SPIDER-MAN 6 WAS ALREADY BEING WRITTEN
Sony may have been putting too many eggs in one basket with Spider-Man by this point the studio actually had a writer working on Spider-Man 6 too. A lot can happen in the time it takes to make three movies, so it seems pretty weird that Sony was thinking this far ahead.
Having a long-term plan is good, but actors quit and movies bomb, so this seems like a bit much.
Though, it’s always possible Sony actually did use the scripts for Spider-Man 5 and 6 and redid them to become the Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel. Regardless, Spider-Man has been Sony’s one chance to get a slice of all the success from superhero films, so it’s understandable that the studio had lofty ambitions.
With Marvel Studios on a mission to get back all the Marvel characters, if Sony loses Spider-Man it’s unlikely the studio will ever get another big name superhero. Sony had better hope that Venom movie does well.
8. RAIMI CONSIDERED INCLUDING THE SINISTER SIX
Seeing this group of villains assemble on-screen is something that feels like as much of an event as when everyone was waiting to see the Justice League finally united. Villainous teams are not something we have seen a lot of in movies, but there would be no better group to showcase for the idea than the Sinister Six.
They are one of the most well-known groups in comics and would surely have been Spider-Man’s biggest test to date.
While there were many villains being batted around to appear, you can definitely see how it would have worked in Raimi’s films. We knew for sure the Vulture was coming, the Sandman was still alive, and a new character could have adopted Doctor Octopus’ technology to take up the legacy of the villain. Raimi also expressed interest in using Electro, so the group was really shaping up.
7. GOODBYE TO MARY JANE
Naturally it was a given that Tobey Maguire was slated to return for Spider-Man 4, since you can’t exactly replace the main character. Love interests, on the other hand, aren’t as much of a certainty. While Maguire had already agreed to be part of the latest movie, Kirsten Dunst was still an unknown factor even late in the planning. Maybe the studio just hadn’t gotten around to sending Kirsten a contract yet, or maybe she just had no further interest in playing Mary Jane.
Spider-Man 4 was planned to happen with or without Dunst.
It’s not like Peter Parker lacks love interests, so the movie could have simply increased the role of Gwen Stacy. Plus Felicia Hardy was set for the movie too, so she could have taken over as the female lead. It was pretty clear Mary Jane wasn’t the only possible woman for Peter in the movies.
6. SPIDER-MAN’S SUIT REDESIGNED
When the storyboards for Spider-Man 4 came out most people were focused only on them showing us what characters were planned to be in the movie. While that’s understandably interesting, it seemed to distract from some of the less obvious details, like that Spider-Man’s suit was also being tinkered with in the drawings.
One drawing shows Spidey’s suit actually having patches on it to convey that it’s endured a lot of wear and tear. It makes sense since Peter can’t exactly have a professional tailor make him a new suit every time it gets torn.
The Sam Raimi movies were actually pretty good at showing the evolution of the Spider-Man suit.
In the first movie we saw Peter starting out with an outfit for a wrestling show and going through a bunch of sketches before finally moving on to his classic costume. Then the third movie brought in the famous black suit, albeit modified from the look comic fans know. It would have been a nice touch for the movies to continue to show how Peter’s costume evolves or is damaged as he gains more experience.
5. THE MOVIE’S CANCELLATION WAS AMICABLE
When films fall through sometimes the story behind it is as interesting as the movie itself would have been. Usually it just amounts to creative differences or lack of money, but those problems can often come with all kinds of stories of drama or tyrannical directors.
If you were hoping for drama around the demise of Spider-Man 4, you will be disappointed.
As it turns out, Sam Raimi pulling the plug on the movie was one of the more civil parting of ways you could hear about.
Raimi recounts how when he went to Sony’s co-chairman Amy Pascal he simply told her that the story drafts that had been put together weren’t working for him and it wasn’t the direction he wanted to take the characters. Sony was not angry to hear this at all. Instead, Pascal responded, ‘Thank you. Thank you for not wasting the studio’s money, and I appreciate your candour.”
4. THE VULTURE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE MOST MENACING VILLAIN YET
When you think of the Vulture he is certainly not near the top of Spider-Man’s most dangerous opponents. With the likes of Venom, Carnage, and the Green Goblin around for Spidey to fight, an old man flying around with bird wings doesn’t leap out as that threatening. But in Raimi’s movies we had not actually had a dark villain yet. Sure, Venom was in the third movie, but his characterization was terrible and nothing like the Eddie Brock everyone knows.
Maybe the Vulture could have stepped up as a dark and dangerous villain.
It’s not as if the Vulture has never done anything menacing. In the story of Spider-Man Noir, the Vulture is actually responsible for the death of Uncle Ben… by eating him. We doubt Raimi would have had things go that dark, but the director did have a flair for reinventing classic villains in new ways.
3. PLANNED FOR MAY OF 2011 RELEASE
Even though the movie didn’t even have a finalized script, the release date for Spider-Man 4 was already set for the middle of 2011.
A planned release four years after Spider-Man 3 makes it uncertain how audiences would have responded to another one of Sam Raimi’s takes on Spider-Man. The Dark Knight came out in 2008 and changed many perceptions on what superhero movies could be like. We have to wonder if Spider-Man 4 would have found as big an audience after Christopher Nolan shook up everyone’s expectations.
Even the original Spider-Man movie feels kind of stiff by today’s standards, but still manages to hold up pretty well. But 2007’s Spider-Man 3 was definitely showing the franchise’s trouble. Eventually Mary Jane and Peter Parker weren’t that exciting anymore, so it would have been interesting to see how this interpretation of the characters would have fared in 2011.
2. BEN KINGSLEY AND JOHN MALKOVICH WERE THE FRONT RUNNERS FOR VULTURE
The importance of having the right actor for a villain is something that can’t be understated in a superhero movie. That’s why Heath Ledger’s Joker is so fondly remembered, and why Tom Hiddleston’s Loki keeps popping in the MCU. It’s also why Ares from the Wonder Woman movie came across as rather lackluster once David Thewlis was revealed to be the man behind the war god.
For Spider-Man 4, the top candidates for the Vulture came down to Ben Kingsley and John Malkovich.
Kingsley would have to wait until Iron Man 3 to show his chops as an antagonist (albeit a decoy), regardless of whether Spider-Man 4 got canceled or not, though. Years after the movie was cancelled Malkovich confirmed he had been tapped to take on the aerial villain.
1. SONY ALREADY PLANNED TO REBOOT THE FRANCHISE
Something interesting Raimi mentions in recalling his discussion with Sony about scrapping the movie is when he said, “’I don’t want to make a movie that is less than great, so I think we shouldn’t make this picture. Go ahead with your reboot, which you’ve been planning anyway.” That’s a pretty surprising statement to hear since Raimi’s trilogy had been doing pretty well.
Sure, Spider-Man 3 wasn’t critically liked, but it was the most financially successful Spider-Man film up to that point. Sony must have been aware of how Raimi was struggling to pin down the story, and began creating contingency plans.
If nothing else it certainly explains why The Amazing Spider-Man came out so quickly following Spider-Man 3.
It seemed like Sony never missed a beat with getting the web-slinger back on screen, so the studio couldn’t have been that phased by Spider-Man 4 getting scrapped. Maybe Sony was happy for the chance to get someone new to direct the movies, since judging by the pressure on Raimi to put Venom in Spider-Man 3, the studio was looking to go in a different direction anyway.
Do you think Spider-Man 4 sounds like it would have been worth waiting for? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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