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History of Canceled Spider-Man Films


Courtesy of Marvel


For twenty years, Spider-Man has entertained moviegoers in theaters and changed the game of movies with its successful films. While not every Spider-Man film will be liked by everyone, most of them are well-received and do very well at the box office. The 2002 Spider-Man film broke many box office records and paved the way for other comic book heroes to get movies. Spider-Man: No Way Home, bringing all three Spider-Man actors together, broke many records and was the first $1 billion film post-Covid. Despite this success and praise, it wasn’t easy to get Spider-Man on the big screen. While Spider-Man films have been around for over twenty years, studios have tried to get the web-slinger on the big screen since the 1980s. With so many Spider-Man films out also comes so many canceled and unmade Spider-Man films.

1980s

Spider-Man movies have tried to start since the 1980s with Cannon Films. The first canceled film was going to be directed by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Director Tobe Hooper, and the story was written by Leslie Stevens. This was the most bizarre canceled Spider-Man film because this wasn’t even close to resembling the character. The plot was about a mad scientist turning Peter Parker into a literal Spider-Man. Taking inspiration from The Wolf Man, Parker would get all hairy and grow eight arms. This made Spider-Man creator Stan Lee upset and he demanded a new script.


Tobe Hooper would leave the project, and Joe Zito would sign on as director. A new script was written, with a more traditional Spider-Man story with the villain being Doc Ock. Spider-Man and Doc Ock’s origins would connect due to an experiment from Otto Octavius going wrong. Tom Cruise and Scott Leva were looked at to play Spider-Man. Bob Hoskins was one of the top choices to play Doc Ock. The film was scheduled to originally come out in 1986 around Christmas. Unfortunately, Cannon was struggling financially, and they kept cutting the budget for the film. It didn’t help those movies Cannon produced at the time, such as Superman IV: The Quest for Peace bombed, causing the Spider-Man film to officially be canceled.


James Cameron

In the early 1990s, Carloco Pictures got the Spider-Man film rights and hired James Cameron, who was known for directing The Terminator and Aliens at the time, to direct and write a Spider-Man film. The film would tell the origin story of Spider-Man and the villains would be Electro and Sandman. This version of Electro would be a corrupt billionaire named Carlton Strand, and Sandman would be called Boyd. The final fight would take place on top of the World Trade Center. The film would also have a sex scene between Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson on the Brooklyn Bridge. Cameron was looking to cast Leonardo DiCaprio as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Robyn Lively as Mary Jane Watson.


Cameron was going to begin work on his Spider-Man film after his 1994 film True Lies. Unfortunately for Cameron, Carloco Pictures went bankrupt in 1996 before production began and got purchased by MGM. MGM thought they now had the rights to Spider-Man, but once Carloco Pictures went bankrupt, the rights went back to Marvel. A whole suit happened because of it, but MGM lost. Cameron pushed for 20th Century Fox to buy the rights, but Fox had no interest. In 1999, Sony got the rights to Spider-Man. Some ideas from Cameron’s film, such as organic webbing, made it into Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man.


Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4

No canceled Spider-Man movie got closer to being made than Sam Rami’s Spider-Man 4. Despite the mixed response from critics and audiences, Spider-Man 3 was a big success at the box office, making over $895 million worldwide. Sony wanted a fourth film. In September 2008, Deadline reported a script was being written for Spider-Man 4 by James Vanderbilt, who recently wrote Zodiac. Deadline also reported that Sam Raimi was returning to direct, and Tobey Maguire was returning to play Spider-Man. There were even talks that a Spider-Man 5 could happen, and both films could shoot back-to-back.


In March 2009, Sony announced on Twitter that Spider-Man 4 would come out on May 6, 2011. Many villains were theorized in the film, primarily the Lizard. Later in 2009, it was announced that Vulture would be the main villain, played by John Malkovich. Vulture was originally going to be one of the villains of Spider-Man 3 until Sony pushed to have Venom in the film instead. Anne Hathaway would play the character Felicia Hardy, with rumors this version of the character being Vulture’s daughter and become a new character called Vultress. Raimi later confirmed she would have been Black Cat.


Unfortunately, Spider-Man 4 had script problems in January 2010, just before production was supposed to start. Raimi later confirmed that he wanted this film to be the best after being unhappy with Spider-Man 3, but he landed up hating every script. Finally, Raimi left the project, and Sony canceled the film. Some of the storyboards for the film revealed fight scenes between Vulture and Spider-Man. They also revealed some of the other villains that would appear, including Mysterio, who would have been played by Bruce Campbell. In 2022, Raimi told the Rolling Stones he wanted to include Kraven the Hunter in the film. Vulture and Mysterio would later become Spider-Man's main antagonists in the MCU, played by Michael Keaton and Jake Gyllenhaal.


The Amazing Spider-Man 3

The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was scheduled for a June 2016 release date. It later got delayed to 2018 to make room for a Sinister Six film in 2016. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did not make as much money as Sony wanted and got a mixed reception from critics. This was not the main reason for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 getting canceled. In late 2014, Andrew Garfield failed to show up to an event in Brazil due to not feeling well. This pushed Sony to let the Spider-Man star go.


It was also revealed when Sony’s emails were leaked in late 2014 that then-Sony President Amy Pascal was talking to Marvel President Kevin Feige about including Spider-Man in the MCU. This Spider-Man, however, would not be the same Spider-Man from the Marc Webb films. This ultimately led to Spider-Man getting rebooted into the MCU in a deal in February 2015. Not much was known about what The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was going to be about, but actor Denis Leary said an idea they had was Spider-Man was going to make a formula that could bring back people that died back to life.


Conclusion

Overall, Spider-Man movies are not easy to make. Sometimes all it takes is a simple mistake to cancel the entire project instead of making drastic changes. Despite so many canceled Spider-Man films, the ideas from these canceled films helped inspire the Spider-Man movies we eventually got. Spider-Man will continue to entertain audiences with upcoming films such as Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, and Tom Holland’s fourth Spider-Man film.


What are your thoughts on these canceled Spider-Man movies? Are there any you wish did happen? Let us know in the comments below.

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