There is no denying that Spider-Man is Marvel's most popular superhero. Not only does he outsell every other Marvel and DC superhero in terms of merchandise, but he's a fan favorite among children and adults alike (which is precisely why fans lost their minds when news broke that, after years of waiting, they would finally get to see him join the MCU in Captain America: Civil War).
After all, what's not to love? He has awesome and unique abilities, an interesting and tragic backstory, and, above all, he's relatable. He isn't a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, a super soldier from a different time, nor a god. He's just a kid trying to juggle high school, family life, and the incredible powers instilled in him by a bite from a radioactive spider.
Despite the character's unparalleled popularity, Spider-Man has only appeared in six films in the last fifteen years. By comparison, Iron Man has appeared in seven since debuting on screen in 2008, and Captain America has appeared in six in the last six years alone. Wolverine, meanwhile, has a baffling nine movie appearances since the year 2000. Much of this has to do with the powers that be at Sony simply bumbling the character time and time again.
Since Tobey Maguire's first go as the web crawler in 2002, the franchise has endured two reboots and seen three different actors assume the role, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, plenty of interesting tidbits regarding the Spider-Man franchise have come out over the years.
Here are the 15 Things You Didn't Know About the Spider-Man Film Franchise.
15 the character first appeared on film in 1977
If asked who the first actor to portray Peter Parker on film was, many fans of the franchise would wrongfully guess Tobey Maguire, who first assumed the role in 2002. The honor actually belongs to Nicholas Hammon, who played the web-slinger in 1977's Spider-Man, which was a made-for-TV movie that premiered on CBS in 1977 and received a theatrical release overseas. Featuring impressive special effects for the time, the film was well-received by audiences, earning a 17.8 rating and making it the highest rated CBS production of the year.
The film acted as a pilot for The Amazing Spider-Man television series, which was subsequently picked up by CBS. The series ran for two seasons in 1978 and 1979 before CBS pulled the plug citing its desire to not be perceived as a "superhero network."
In an interview with SFX magazine, Nicholas Hammon claimed a revival of the series was in the works in 1984 that would have seen the cast crossover with the cast of The Incredible Hulk, but Lou Ferrigno (who played the Hulk in the original series) has since claimed to have no knowledge of such an event.
14 the 2002 film almost featured a cameo by hugh jackman
Bryan Singer's original X-Men film was groundbreaking in the sense that it showed movie studios that superhero films can crush both the domestic and foreign box offices. X-Men was a box office juggernaut that earned $296 million worldwide on a $75 million dollar budget, and paved the way for superhero films to follow. Since Spider-Man would hit theaters just two years later, it's no surprise producers wanted Hugh Jackman's Wolverine to make a cameo.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Jackman revealed that he was in New York around the time Spider-Man was filming and that his character nearly made an appearance. Jackman said, "we really tried to get me to come on and do something ... The problem was, we couldn’t find the suit. ... And so when they were in New York when I was there, we couldn’t get it together."
The intricacies of a deal that could have brought Wolverine (whose film rights belong to 20th Century Fox) into a Spider-Man film (owned by Sony) are tough to figure, but nonetheless intriguing. The two studios could have begun creating a shared universe a full six years before Marvel Studios would work toward doing the same with 2008's Iron Man.
13 The 2002 film was heavily affected by the 9/11 terror attacks
Spider-Man was filmed in New York City throughout most of 2001, so it naturally featured plenty of shots of one of the city's most iconic sites: the World Trade Center. The first poster for the film featured a reflection of the twin towers in Spider-man's eye, the towers could be seen in the background of several shots of the city's skyline, and even the main set piece of the first teaser-trailer for the film featured a helicopter caught in a web built in between the massive skyscrapers.
Then the towers fell following the 9/11 terror attacks, and the film had to be heavily edited in the tragedy's aftermath. The original teaser-trailer and poster were immediately pulled (though both can now be found online) and virtually all traces of the towers were digitally removed from the final cut in post production.
However, one subtle reference to the towers remains. Mid-way through the film, there is a close-up shot on Spider-Man's mask where a reflection of the two towers can be seen in his eye. It's a quick shot that can be missed in the blink of an eye, but is present nonetheless.
12 it was the first movie to gross $100 million in its opening weekend
At the time of its release, the hype surrounding Sam Raimi's Spider-Man was unprecedented. Following the aforementioned success of X-Men, audiences around the world were ready to see their favorite superheroes on the big screen.
Then came the soon-to-be pulled teaser trailer and the anticipation continued to grow. The trailer debuted next, and gave audiences their first view of not only of the hero himself, but also the movie's incredible effects. Twenty-four years after Superman made audiences believe a man could fly, Spider-Man made them believe a man could swing from a web.
Sony easily turned this massive hype into the biggest box office opening weekend the world had ever seen, as the film would earn $114.8 million, breaking the record of $90.3 million previously held by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Spider-Man became the first film to earn more than $100 million in just three days (both Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace and The Sorcerer's Stone accomplished the feat in five), and also broke Potter's second week record by earning $71.5 million, $14.5 million more than Harry.
Simply put, the film was a massive success.
11 spider-man 2 was almost a completely different film
Thirteen years after its release, Spider-Man 2 remains one of the most highly-rated comic book movies of all time. It improved on the original in nearly every way, boasting better effects, deeper character development, and one of the most compelling villains in Alfred Molina's Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus.
Molina is brilliant in the role and makes Octavius' transition from earnest scientist to misguided supervillain utterly believable. Add to this Peter's relationships with Octavius, Mary Jane, and Harry, and the result is a terrific film. Looking back now, it's hard to imagine Spider-Man 2 being anything other than the film it was, but early drafts of the screenplay were entirely different.
The original screenplay (written by Michael Chabon and leaked online) featured a young, single Otto Octavius who competes with Peter for the attention of Mary Jane, and the revelation that Octavius was partially responsible for the spider that gave Peter his powers.
Because of this, Octavius is in possession of a microchip that he uses to reverse the effects of the bite and sap Peter of his abilities. There's also a subplot involving Harry offering a $10 million bounty on Spider-Man that puts the web-crawler in constant peril.
10 spider-man 3 was nearly broken up into two films
Following the critical successes of the first two movies, the pressure was on Spider-Man 3 to deliver once more. Unfortunately, the introductions of the black-suited Spider-Man, emo Peter, Gwen Stacy, and the Sandman, in addition to Harry's transition into the Green Goblin and the origin of Venom, proved too much for a single film to bear. The result was an over-bloated mess. As it turns out, the film's writer sensed there was too much happening and wanted to split the film in two.
The original screenplay for Spider-Man 3 was much simpler than the finished product, and was much more focused on Peter, MJ, Harry, and Flint Marko, aka Sandman. According to Raimi, at the film's core was Peter's journey to forgiveness following the death of Uncle Ben at the hands of Marko.
Then producers suggested adding the symbiote, Venom, and Gwen Stacy to the mix, and Raimi hesitantly obliged. Feeling that the film was becoming too complex, Alvin Sargent (one of the screenwriters along with Sam and Ivan Raimi) wanted to break the film in two. Unable to find a satisfying intermediate climax for the two films, Sargent crammed everything into the film, and it suffered overall.
9 spider-man 4, 5, and 6 were shelved after Sam Raimi left the franchise
Despite underwhelming reviews, Spider-Man 3 was a massive box office success (earning $890 million worldwide), and so Sony quickly greenlit the development of Spider-Man 4 and had plans to continue the franchise into entries 5 and 6.
Raimi was set to return as director and both Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst signed on to reprise their roles. By December 2009, John Malkovich and Anne Hathaway had entered talks to portray Vulture and Felicia Hardy, respectively. Raimi also expressed interest in finally having Dr. Curt Connors transform into his alter-ego, the Lizard, which the franchise had been setting up since the character's introduction in Spider-Man 2.
The problem, however, lay in the sceenplay. Raimi reportedly worked closely with the film's writers on four different versions and still wasn't happy. So, with the film's May 2011 release date quickly approaching and Sony refusing to push it back, Raimi dropped out of the project.
The director said that finishing the film in time for the release date would require a sacrifice creatively, which he refused to do. With Raimi officially gone, the decision was made to reboot the series instead, and development of The Amazing Spider-Man quickly began.
8 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was supposed to launch Sony's spider-verse
A funny thing happened between the release of Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man. This was a little franchise called the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Peter Parker and co. lay on Sony's back burner collecting dust, Marvel Studios successfully released six straight blockbuster hits culminating in 2012's The Avengers, which completely transformed the landscape for modern comic book filmmaking. Shared universes were suddenly all the rage and Sony wanted in, so the decision was made to have The Amazing Spider-Man 2 be the launch point for Sony's interconnected Spider-verse.
Following the release of the film in 2014, Sony's plan was to create a shared universe with Spider-Man at its center. In addition to third and fourth Amazing Spider-Man films, Sony had plans for a Sinister Six spin-off (which received plenty of set up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2), another spin-off featuring Venom, and a 2017 film set to star a Marvel superheroine.
Unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 tanked with critics and became the lowest grossing entry in the franchise. Shortly thereafter, plans for the Spider-verse were scrapped in favor of Sony striking a deal with Marvel Studios to bring Spidey into the MCU.
7 It's the only blockbuster franchise with consistent diminishing box office returns
Franchises are interesting in that you can never really tell just how well a sequel is going to perform at the box office compared to the film that preceded it. Take the X-Men franchise for example. There have been ten films released so far. The original film grossed $157 million domestically, and was quickly bested by X2: X-Men United ($214 million), which was then bested by X-Men: The Last Stand ($234 million).
Then the franchise took a dip with X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($179 million), X-Men: First Class ($146 million), and The Wolverine ($132 million) before rebounding with X-Men: Days of Future Past, the third-highest grossing entry at $233 million, and then sinking once more with X-Men: Apocalypse, the third-lowest with $155 million.
Other blockbuster franchises follow a similar pattern. The Spider-Man franchise, however, doesn't fit the mold. Instead, every one of its films has earned less domestically than its predecessor. Between Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the box office has shrunk significantly, going from $403, to $373, to $336, to $262, to $202 million. At a time when franchise box offices are filled with peaks and valleys, Spider-Man has consistently been on the decline.
6 Sony will keep all the profits from spider-man: homecoming
Bringing Spider-Man into the MCU was no easy task and required lots of negotiating on the parts of Sony Pictures (which owns the film rights to the character) and Marvel Studios (which owns the film rights to pretty much every other Marvel character and control the MCU).
In fact, reports indicate that the two companies tried-- and failed-- to negotiate a deal multiple times before one was finally reached in February 2015, paving the way for Spider-Man to make his MCU debut. Since then, many details of the agreement between the two studios have come to light.
One of the more interesting tidbits to be revealed since the deal was announced is that Spider-Man: Homecoming is financed and distributed by Sony Pictures, and that Sony will keep 100% of the profits from the film.
Marvel Studios receives production credit for serving as “creative lead” after helping to choose the director and cast, and helping to craft the film’s style and tone. In return, Marvel Studios gets to use the character in other MCU films. Marvel also retains the merchandising rights to the character, which are sure to receive significant bumps every time a new movie is released.
5 a miles morales animated spider-man movie is in the works
When people think of Spider-Man, the first character that comes to mind is undoubtedly Peter Parker. After all, Peter was the original Spider-Man to debut in 1962, and has been the featured hero in every live action film to date.
Peter isn't the only Spider-Man, though. Mile Morales assumed the role following the death of Peter Parker in the Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man comic book arc that began in September 2011. Six years after his comic book debut, a Miles Morales animated movie is finally in development.
The film is set for release in December 2018 and will star Shameik Moore (Dope, The Get Down) who will provide the voice of Miles Morales. Also attached to the film are Mahershala Ali and Liev Schreiber, who will voice Miles' uncle Aaron Davis and the film's yet-to-be-announced villain, respectively.
Morales also made headlines recently when Kevin Feige suggested that the character does exist within the MCU, though he may not appear on screen in the foreseeable future. Still he'll at least appear in animated form late next year.
4 tom holland is currently signed to a six-picture deal
With franchises popping up in every corner of the film universe, movie studios have gotten into the habit of signing their film stars to multi-picture deals. For example, Sebastian Stan (who portrays Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier in the MCU films) has once said he is currently signed to a massive nine-picture deal. Tom Holland, meanwhile, has revealed that he is currently slated to appear in six films as everyone's favorite web-slinger.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Holland said he is currently contractually obligated to appear in three Spider-Man films and three MCU films as Spider-Man. This means Civil War was one of the latter, and Homecoming will be one of the former, which leaves two more Spider-Man solo films to come in the future, in addition to at least two more MCU crossovers (presumably Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4.)
There's no telling what will happen with the wall-crawler after that, but, until then, fans of Holland's take on he character will get to see him at least another four times.
3 there's no guarantee that spider-man will remain in the mcu after Homecoming 2
Since Tom Holland is currently slated to appear in just three non-solo films, this means Sony's current deal with Marvel Studios that brought Spider-Man into the MCU could end upon completion of this third film. Based on the MCU's current trajectory, this film will most likely be Avengers 4, which means that this may be the last time fans see Spider-Man interact with the Avengers and everyone else in the MCU.
On the topic of Sony's deal with Marvel Studios that brought Spider-Man into the MCU, producer Amy Pascal told Cosmic Book News "one of the things that I think is so amazing about this experience is that you don't have studios deciding to work together to make a film very often. In fact, it may never happen again-- after we do the sequel."
This quote is telling because it shows that the two studios do not have an agreement beyond Spider-Man's second solo film, often referred to as Homecoming 2. It's entirely possible that the studios will decide to go their separate ways, with Marvel Studios continuing to focus on the MCU without Spider-Man and Sony exploring Spider-Man films that exist outside of the MCU.
2 Venom will not cross over into the MCU
The internet practically lost its mind when Sony announced that, not only was it developing a new Venom film, but that fan favorite Tom Hardy would be starring as Eddie Brock. Hardy has quickly become one of the biggest Hollywood stars following memorable performances in Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Revenant.
He will appear in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk and is currently attached to Mad Max: The Wasteland. While fans will undoubtedly love to see Hardy take the reigns from Topher Grace following the latter's underwhelming performance in Spider-Man 3, they may be disappointed to learn that Venom will most likely not appear in the MCU.
When discussing Venom, Kevin Feige dropped two interesting tidbits regarding the future of the popular antihero. With regards to Venom possibly appearing in an MCU film Feige said "for now, there is no plan for Venom in the MCU. It’s a Sony Project."
When asked if Spider-Man would be appearing in the 2018 Venom film Feige didn't mince words, succinctly saying "no." This doesn't mean Venom and Spidey won't eventually cross paths in the future (the smart bet is they will eventually), but it won't be in 2018.
1 Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 takes place minutes after Avengers 4
The future of the MCU after Phase 3, is currently shrouded in mystery. Sure, there have been plenty of rumors regarding which direction Phase 4 will take, but nothing concrete... until recently. During an interview with Fandom regarding Spider-Man's future Amy Pascal made a very telling statement.
Pascal said "what I think we should focus on is this Spider-Man who started in Civil War and then has this movie, and then will be in the Avengers movie. And we are starting now the next one which will start a few minutes after Avengers 4 wraps as a story."
This statement not only reveals Spider-Man's fate at the end of Avengers 4, but also the direction Sony will take with the character thereafter. They aren't wasting any time and will pick up just minutes after the film leaves off.
The question now is what kind of scenario will Spidey face after Thanos finally wields the Infinity Gauntlet? What kind of destruction will befall New York City and Earth as a whole, and which of Peter's fellow Avengers will fall during the conflict? According to Pascal, these questions and more will immediately be answered in Tom Holland's second solo film as the web-slinger.
Are there any other interesting Spider-Man franchise facts that we missed? Let us know in the comments section.
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