Since kicking off in 2002, the Spider-Man movies have been some of the biggest films in cinematic history. The first outing was an overnight blockbuster, and the latest entry in the series, Spider-Man: Homecoming, has now grossed over 800 million to date. While some movies in the series have been better received than others, one quality that has defined the more popular films has been a strong faithfulness to the spirit of the comics combined with a willingness to take narrative risks.
Ever since the first Spider-Man film was little more than a twinkle in Stan Lee’s eye, fans have busied themselves with rumors about what sort of adaptation we were going to get. Some rumors seemed practical at the time — when James Cameron was directing, who didn’t expect Leonardo DiCaprio to play Spidey? — while other rumors have been way, way out there. For every weird rumor that has ended up being true, like the whole “organic webbing” thing, there have been five or six ridiculously insane rumors that somehow managed to gain traction across the internet.
Spider-Fans, get ready for some weird stuff ahead. As laughable as these rumors might seem today, all of them are defined by the fact that once, long ago, people were genuinely scared that these weird developments might come to pass. As we await whatever strange rumors might swirl around the upcoming Homecoming sequel, let’s look back on these Terrible Spider-Man Movie Rumors That (Thankfully) Never Happened.
15. Aunt May Is Carnage
No, we’re not talking about the young, spry Aunt May played by Marisa Tomei. We mean the wise, elderly Aunt May that Rosemary Harris played so definitively in the Sam Raimi series. Hang with us here, because we’re not making this up. In the year leading up to Spider-Man 3, there genuinely was a huge rumor circulating online that the film’s surprise ending would see Aunt May finding Venom’s symbiote, and then being reborn as Carnage.
Why would a decent, responsible woman like May become a monstrous creature like Carnage? Why would Sam Raimi ever agree to such a dumb twist? Stupid as it sounds today, this rumor had people seriously concerned.
The source of this hubbub was IMDb. In 2006, the cast list for Spider-Man 3 was updated to show Rosemary Harris as playing “Aunt May/Carnage,” causing a cataclysmic fan meltdown across the internet. However, IMDb can be edited by anyone, and the rumor finally was shot down when the perpetrator bragged too much about it online.
14. Norman Osborn Is Actually Peter’s Father
As silly as that whole Aunt Carnage business was, the rumor mill was just as silly back in the days before the first movie came out. Back then, nobody had any idea what to the expect, and fans had every right to be scared of studio meddling. After all, there actually was a Spider-Man script in the 1980s that portrayed Peter Parker mutating into some kind of mutant spider monster.
But in any case, back in 2002, there was a big, scary rumor that Raimi and company’s seemingly faithful Spider-Man adaptation was going to do a major break from canon in its conclusive moments. Supposedly, during the final fight, Norman Osborn was going to take off his Goblin mask, get real with Peter, and confess to the web-spinner that he was Peter’s true birth father, not Richard Parker. So… Peter Osborn?
Aside from being a pointless change from the comics, this would’ve also been a complete Star Wars ripoff, and there’s no evidence that it was ever anything but a rumor.
13. Anne Hathaway’s Felicia Hardy Is… The Vulturess
It’s no big secret that back when Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 was still in development, Anne Hathaway was Raimi’s first choice to play Felicia Hardy, a Spidey love interest known for jumping across buildings in a black leather jumpsuit and calling herself the Black Cat. In an ironic twist, Hathaway would later go on to become a different feline-themed vigilante when she played Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. However, according to the rumor mill, the studio never wanted Felicia Hardy to be the Black Cat: they wanted her to be a brand new villain named the “Vulturess.”
Yes, yes, we know.
The Vulture, who has become a big deal these days thanks to Homecoming, was definitely set to be the main villain of the film. According to the rumors, Felicia Hardy was going to be portrayed as Vulture’s daughter, and her vigilante turn was going to be done using her father’s technology.
12. Doc Ock’s In Love With Mary Jane
Doctor Octopus is Spidey’s trademark archenemy, and the classic dynamic between the two was perfectly depicted in Spider-Man 2: their battle is a fight between a wide-eyed, optimistic boy and an embittered, cynical man; both passionate about science — but differing in their feelings on responsibility.However, before Alfred Molina was cast as Otto Octavius, there were rumors that Ock was going to be played by a younger actor, and portrayed as being in love with Mary Jane. This would set up a weird romantic triangle between Ock, MJ, and Peter, adding an extra personal edge to the conflict.
Surprisingly, this rumor was true. An early script by Michael Chabon actually did feature a younger, MJ-infatuated Ock. Raimi changed Ock’s character arc to be more like the comics, though many other elements of Chabon’s script remained. In the finished film, the most substantial interaction between Ock and MJ is the supervillain threatening to “peel the flesh from her bones,” which is hardly a good pickup line.
11. Tyne Daly As A Female J. Jonah Jameson
If there’s one character that has been severely missed since the Sam Raimi movies ended, it’s Peter’s infamous boss, J. Jonah Jameson. It’s actually rather shocking that he’s been off the table for so long, and there’s a lot of speculation about what actor may play him in a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel.
When Tyne Daly was cast in Homecoming, early set photos showed her marching around in a manner that looked very boss-like, so the rumor mill buzzed with speculation that she was playing a female version of Jameson… J. Jane Jameson, perhaps. While living up to J.K. Simmons is next-to-impossible, and sex-swapped characters can sometimes be quite successful — for example, the female Hogarth in The Defenders is way more interesting than the male comic book version — it’s hard to imagine that the dynamic between Peter and Jameson wouldn’t be severely altered by such a twist on the mythos.
10. Amazing Spider-Man 3: All the Dead Characters Get Resurrected
What direction would the storyline have taken if The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had been the massive success Sony was hoping for? All the seeds planted in the movie make it clear that a third movie (as well as a spinoff or two) was being planned, and while details are still mostly under wraps, director Marc Webb has said that Norman Osborn would have been coming back.
However, there were rumors that Osborn wasn’t going to be the only one. According to Dennis Leary, who played Captain Stacy, the third film was going to feature a sequence where, “Spider-Man would be able to take this formula and regenerate the people in his life that had died,” meaning the resurrection of Captain Stacy, Gwen, Uncle Ben, and others. The foregone conclusion of this was that the film was going to attempt some new take on the infamous Clone Saga storyline.
9. Green Goblin AND Doc Ock As the Villains of Spider-Man (2002)
One of the key elements that made the first two Spider-Man movies so good was that each film only had one villain, thus giving the antagonist room for a lot of character development. Both Octavius and the Green Goblin stand today as some of the best cinematic supervillains so far, largely due to this approach.
However, before the first Spider-Man came out, the rumor mill suggested that the movie was going to feature both legendary villains at once. While this sounds good in theory, the reality would have certainly been a cluttered mess, with either one — or both — iconic foes being reduced to little more than footnotes.
This is another rumor with basis in fact, as early Spider-Man scripts did feature both villains. Luckily, this was amended in later drafts to position Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn as the sole antagonist.
8. Michael Jackson As Spider-Man
Say what you will about Michael Jackson. He’s both an iconic musician and a controversial figure, even after his death. But one thing is for sure: he would have immensely miscast as Spider-Man, particularly by the late 1990s or early 2000s, at which point he would have been in his early 40s.
Count this as another rumor which actually has some basis in reality. According to Stan Lee, Michael Jackson actually lobbied really, really hard to be Spider-Man. He loved the character, and was passionate about being the one to play it. Believe it or not, Jackson was actually so dedicated to getting the role that he even tried to buy Marvel Comics, believing that it would be the only way he would get the part.
7. Spider-Man 3 Villains Are Kraven and the Chameleon
The end of Spider-Man 2 painted a very clear picture of what was coming next: Harry Osborn had just discovered his father’s hideout, so the next generation of Goblin was on the way. In the meantime, fan enthusiasm for the character of Venom just about ensured that the symbiotic supervillain would be appearing soon. The Lizard was also rumored. But according to one rumor, the filmmakers were going to go in a different direction — which would have made no one happy — by featuring the brotherly duo of Kraven the Hunter and the Chameleon.
The rumor got started on AICN, and didn’t have a positive response. While both of them are classic villains, the idea of them being the villains would have been ludicrous: Harry’s story arc had been set up since the first movie, so putting it aside for these two would have made no sense. Furthermore, neither Kraven nor the Chameleon are particularly cinematic compared to Ock and the Goblin.
6. Spider-Man Vs. Iron Man In Homecoming
Yes, we know that Iron Man played a major role in Homecoming, obviously. The film’s marketing certainly made a point to emphasize that fact as much as possible. But back when nothing was known about the upcoming release, there was a big rumor that Shellhead’s role in the movie was going to be… a bit different.
According to early whispers, the plot of the new MCU Spider-Man movie was going to have Peter “auditioning” to be an Avenger. But this is where things get weird: supposedly, in order to prove himself, Peter was going to have to fight Iron Man. Basically, picture a less grim Batman v Superman scenario, with two willing participants. This could have positioned Iron Man as the movie’s de facto “antagonist,” rather than the Vulture, and supposedly, the Sinister Six was going to be a subplot, with them quietly forming in the background to set up for a sequel.
5. Miles Morales As The MCU Spidey
Don’t get us wrong, Miles Morales is one of the best new characters of the 2010s. We loved the reference to him in Homecoming, and are looking forward to the 2018 animated Spider-Man film featuring his story. Furthermore, we can’t wait to see him surface in the MCU someday. But back before Tom Holland was cast as Peter Parker, there was a big rumor making the rounds that in order to differentiate from the previous two Spider-Man franchises at Sony, Marvel was going to skip the Peter Parker story entirely — and start with Miles Morales as the original web-slinger.
It’s understandable why this theory would come about. What better way to beat back Spider-fatigue than by featuring a popular new character? But skipping Peter would have both deprived fans of seeing the classic Spider-Man interacting with his fellow Avengers, not to mention completely changed the nature of Miles’ story, since the younger hero is supposed to be inspired by Peter’s example.
4. Mary Jane Dies In Spider-Man (2002)
Okay, so it’s really not hard to see where this rumor came from, since there’s that iconic moment in Spider-Man’s history involving the Green Goblin dangling Peter’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy over the Brooklyn Bridge, and then dropping her to her death. So when the first Spider-Man trailers showed glimpses of the Goblin dangling Mary Jane over the same bridge, a clear tribute to that infamous scene… well, can you blame people for worrying that MJ was going to die in Gwen’s place?
Ironically, the very reason that Raimi didn’t put Gwen in his first Spider-Man movie was because he thought the impact of having her die would be too sorrowful a note to end the film on. Let’s not forget, this is a movie that not only shows an orphan losing his adoptive father/uncle, but then also losing his best friend’s father, then hearing that best friend swear to kill him. So yeah, we’re glad that MJ survived.
3. Richard Parker is Alive
One complaint that often gets lodged at both Amazing Spider-Man films is that they dwelled a bit too much on Peter’s parents, usually at the expense of Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Throughout both movies, the legacy of scientist Richard Parker hangs heavy over Peter’s head… almost as if he’s still there.
During the development cycle of both movies, there were a lot of rumors related to Richard Parker. One rumor was that Richard may have experimented on Peter as a boy, a la Ang Lee’s Hulk, and that was the real reason he gets spider-powers. But the rumor that really frustrated fans was the notion that Richard Parker might still be alive, just pretending to be dead, helping Peter out from behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, this rumor ended up being true…sort of. A scene of Richard revealing himself to Peter at Gwen’s grave was even filmed — yes, withhold your groans — as you can see in the picture above. But thankfully, the scene was cut.
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming Will Take Place in the Savage Land
The Savage Land is one of the biggest still unexplored locations in the MCU. Basically, it’s a secret hot spot in Antarctica where dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts still roam alongside humans, undisturbed by the outside world. While it’s not crazy to think that we’ll see the Savage Land pop up at some point, it’s hard to imagine a weirder vehicle to introduce it in than a Spider-Man movie.
But back in 2015, there was a swirl of rumors that Spidey’s first MCU outing was going to toss him deep into the Savage Land, to do things like wrestle a Tyrannosauruses, ride on a Triceratops, and all that cheesy goodness. This might have made for a fun movie, but it would have been a terrible way to introduce Spider-Man’s new world, so we’re glad it was just a rumor.
1. Secret Agent Aunt May Will Star in Her Own Spin-Off
One thing that hasn’t changed since Spidey hopped into the MCU is Sony’s excitement about trying to create its own Spider-centric cinematic universe, with upcoming films like Venom and Silver & Black currently in production. But the most ridiculous potential Spidey spin-off of all time was rumored back in 2014, when Latino Review claimed that Sony was looking to make an Aunt May spin-off.
Presumably, this would have been the Sally Field version of May, but with a younger actress. It would be set in the 1960s, aiming for a Mad Men-type look and tone, and it would have invented a whole new backstory about how May was a secret agent in her youth. It’s hard to imagine a more misguided project. The only thing that’s scarier than this rumor is the worry that such a project might have actually been more than a rumor. Maybe.
Yeah… Aunt Carnage was bad, but this would’ve been even worse.
Any crazy Spider-Man movie rumors we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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