Mysterio makes his big screen debut in Spider-Man: Far From Home - but he could have been retconned into the Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy years ago. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko back in 1963, Mysterio was among Spider-Man's first super-villains. He was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #13, and in his first comic book appearance pretended to be a superhero in order to receive the fame and public adoration he believed he deserved.
But Mysterio almost made his way to the big screen years ago, when Raimi was working on Spider-Man 4. Although Raimi planned to use Vulture as the main villain, he also considered an extended montage featuring a range of second-tier bad guys. Leaked concept art confirmed Mysterio numbered among them, and according to illustrator Jeffrey Henderson they'd also have included the likes of the Shocker, the Rhino, the Prowler, and maybe even Stilt-Man. Unfortunately, disagreements between Raimi and Sony Pictures escalated, and the film was canceled when Raimi chose to leave the project.
The Mysterio of Spider-Man 4 would have been very different to the character seen in Spider-Man: Far From Home, though. He'd already potentially been set up in Raimi's previous Spider-Man films, and could have been one of the most dangerous - and surprising - threats Spider-Man ever faced.
Bruce Campbell's Spider-Man Cameos Explained
It's generally believed that Sam Raimi intended Bruce Campbell, one of his closest friends, to play the part of Mysterio. This would actually have been Campbell's fourth appearance in the Raimi films; Raimi had given him a string of minor cameos in the first three Spider-Man movies.
Campbell appeared in 2002's Spider-Man as the ringmaster at a wrestling match Peter Parker attended shortly after he'd developed his super-powers. In fact, Campbell's character was the one who named him Spider-Man, given the best Peter could come up with was "The Human Spider." Moving on to Spider-Man 2, the actor played an unhelpful usher who wouldn't allow Peter in to the theater when he arrived late for MJ's performance. Peter attempted to argue the point, insisting that Mary Jane had asked him to come, but he was refused entry; "But not to come late," the usher retorted, and hushed Peter's objections. Campbell's final appearance was in 2007's Spider-Man 3, where he played a Maître d' who greeted Peter into a French restaurant. Peter was planning to propose to MJ at the time, and the Maître d' wished him "bonne chance." On the face of it, these cameos were just Easter eggs, and that's probably all Raimi intended when he shot them; however, that idea may have changed.
Was Campbell Really Playing Mysterio?
There have long been rumors that Campbell was signed up to play Mysterio in Spider-Man 4, but they're far from confirmed. To this day, Campbell himself insists he never got a phone call from Raimi telling him the name of the character he was supposed to be. What is certain, though, is that this time round, Campbell was going to have a lot more than a cameo. "I promised him we would write something because I really love putting him in the pictures," Raimi told MTV in October 2009. "I promised him a good, meaty role." This was echoed by Campbell himself, who told Access Hollywood that he knew he had a major part. Henderson's concept art showed Mysterio being dragged away by the police, and the sketch does look very much like Campbell.
If Campbell was indeed Mysterio, though, viewers are forced to reassess all those previous appearances. In the comics, Quentin Beck was a special effects and stunt coordinator who worked in Hollywood. There have been several stories in which Mysterio demonstrated a degree of skill as an actor as well, and his ability to trick Spider-Man's spider-sense often meant he remained undetected until the last, crucial moment. That means it's entirely possible that all Campbell's cameos could be retconned as Mysterio, a recurring villain who was continuously involved in Peter Parker's life.
How Spider-Man 4 Could Have Done Mysterio
Assuming Campbell's cameos were indeed all Mysterio, then it suggests the illusionist had worked out Peter Parker's true identity, and was stalking him in both his civilian and superhero garb. That's actually quite a chilling idea, that a super-villain secretly knew Peter's true identity all along, and manipulated him from the shadows. Presumably it all began in the wrestling ring, with Quentin Beck giving the unexpected, scrawny champion his name. As a member of staff, he could easily have had access to the sign-up sheets, and it really wouldn't have been much of a stretch for Beck to associate the wrestler with Spider-Man. Peter did wear the same logo on both costumes, after all.
What's missing, of course, is a motive. It may have simply been jealousy, as in the comics; Mysterio watched from the sidelines as New York City embraced Spider-Man in a way it never had done Quentin Beck. Frankly, the Mysterio of Sam Raimi's films would have a lot more reason to be envious than his comic book equivalent. The Spider-Man trilogy frequently showed New Yorkers rallying around the wall-crawler, whereas in the comics, he's usually considered Public Enemy No. 1.
Whatever the reason may be, Raimi's Mysterio would presumably have become obsessed with Peter Parker, dipping in and out of his life. It's not hard to envision the Spider-Man 2 cameo as a subtle act of harassment, with Mysterio quite enjoying causing problems for Peter's personal life. It's reasonable to assume that in Spider-Man 4 he became a little bit bolder, revealing himself to Peter after causing yet more trouble in Spider-Man's private life.
Sam Raimi understood that Spider-Man's greatest super-villains all have deep, intimate connections to his private life. As such, it really wouldn't be a stretch for Raimi to decide to tie Mysterio in somehow, albeit in a very sinister fashion. Mysterio has always been a trickster and an illusionist, but if this theory is correct, then Spider-Man 4's portrayal would have involved him focusing all his manipulative skill upon a single target. He'd have become a super-powered stalker, someone who presumably knew how to get around Spider-Man's spider-sense, and who knew just how to tear the wall-crawler's world apart. In a strange way, Mysterio would have become one of the greatest threats Spider-Man had ever faced.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019