The major news item yesterday was the shocking but not-too-surprising report and confirmation that Spider-Man 4 was cancelled. No Sam Raimi, no Tobey Maguire, no Kirsten Dunst, it's done with. Sony is going the path of the speed reboot and starting from scratch with Peter Parker in high school and you can read the official press release in our update on the cancellation.
One of the problems for Sony Pictures all along was having to wait so long between installments. For obvious reasons, Spider-Man is their prized money-making franchise and they don't want delays between paychecks. With that in mind, the studio had a sort of contingency plan in place if this were to happen anyways and the story for the next Spider-Man is already there.
James Vanderbilt, the man writing the reboot, was initially brought in by Sony to pen the script for Spider-Man 4 but then-director Sam Raimi wasn't in full support of it - so he brought in other writers to do several re-writes (beginnings of the villain dispute?). Sony actually was pretty fond of Vanderbilt's ideas however, so they hired him again to write Spider-Man 5 & 6 with the plan that if Raimi and his cast were not to return for the 5th and 6th interconnected Spidey adventures (which we knew they wouldn't), Vanderbilt’s script would act as a franchise re-boot. Case in point: Yesterday.
In a sense, they always had a back-up plan to ensure Spidey would hit the silver screens in 2011 or 2012, no matter what. Except this time, we'll be seeing young Peter Parker back in high school dealing with the contemporary issues faced by youths in similar situations today (sans radioactive spiders of course).
Clearly, the studio is aiming at targeting the next generation of moviegoers going with a younger cast and teenage-based drama (Transformers and Twilight crowds?). But how will they differentiate this from what was done in Raimi's first Spider-Man? According to EW, the reboot will be a "gritty, contemporary reboot of the franchise" and make reference to what Batman Begins did for DC's key film franchise.
Spider-Man isn't a "gritty" sort of character so I'm assuming (read: hoping) that they simply mean it may be more realistic in tone with slightly less comic book cheese factor - not to say, Spider-Man 1 & 2 were cheesy, I loved those films. What I mean is, we'll likely be seeing something more serious and less colorful and comedic.
With there now being a clean slate for the next Spider-Man film, the field is open for a new director and a new cast to come out and play. Any ideas as to who could take over the reins and help kick-start a new Spider-Man trilogy?
We've already seen Spider-Man's on-screen origins and it wasn't that long ago either; Do they come up with a new origin and aggravate the fanbase even more or do they just quickly get into the costume and webshooters? Do they re-design his costume or copy what was done successfully in the existing trilogy?
Another big question is what villains will be used. I doubt they will use the characters we've already seen in Raimi's trilogy with one exception: Venom. You can argue all you want, but Venom isn't nearly as bankable character compared to Spider-Man and it's evident that Sony Pictures really wants to launch a solo film for the fan-favorite symbiote. In order to do that, they will likely tie him into the Spider-Man reboot series in one way or another as I predicted they would with Spider-Man 5 & 6 anyway. It seemed a sure thing that after the fourth installment, they were going to have to restart without Raimi and Maguire.
What do you think of all this?
Spider-Man (the reboot) comes out in the summer of 2012.