Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man and its stellar sequel are considered classic films among the superhero genre. Unfortunately, Spider-Man 3’s tepid reception stalled the franchise’s momentum, prompting Sony to reboot the series rather than give Tobey Maguire another spin in the red and blue tights. Raimi’s love for the iconic character is splashed over every frame of his first two films, which featured the web-slinger facing off against the classic villains Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus.
For the third film, Sony urged the director to feature Venom, a popular character among younger fans, instead of an antagonist from the hero’s earlier storylines, effectively deflating the filmmaker’s passion for the project. Before Sony made the choice to reboot their franchise with Andrew Garfield and Marc Webb, Raimi and writer James Vanderbilt were developing Spider-Man 4 with the hopes of restoring the franchise to the high standard set by the first two films. Until now, the details of Raimi’s unmade Spider-Man film have been a kept safely under wraps.
Now, illustrator Jeffrey Henderon has shared a handful of storyboards he created during preproduction, giving fans a glimpse at what might have been.
The Vulture, who is slated to appear in the forthcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, would have been the web-slinger’s main antagonist in Raimi’s scrapped film, while Bruce Campbell would have had a brief cameo as Mysterio. Henderson describes an opening montage featuring “C and D- list villains that we knew would never be used as main antagonists: Mysterio, the Shocker, the Prowler, the old school-onesie-wearing version of the Rhino, maybe even the Stilt Man, etc.”
Henderon’s drawings reveal a terrifying version of the Vulture and offer compelling hints as to the scale and tone of the film. Writing on his website, the artist says:
“It would’ve been one absolutely kick ass movie. Seriously. We were working on some crazy-cool stuff, because everyone, from top to bottom, felt that Spidey 3 was a bit of a ‘missed opportunity’, and we all really wanted to help Sam take SM4 to another level so he could end the series on a high note.”
It seems like the need for redemption was a huge motivation for Raimi’s team as they prepped their doomed production. This may have revitalized the director and helped him to restore the personal passion that elevated his initial films, but was so sorely missing from his third. Nevertheless, with Tom Holland’s crowd-pleasing debut as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, and Michael Keaton joining Homecoming, anticipation for Sony and Marvel’s joint venture is sky-high. As Marvel embraces the hero’s youth and sidesteps the origin story, Homecoming is shaping up to be one of the more unique films in Marvel’s vast catalog.
Captain America: Civil War is in theaters now. Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.