The Death & Rebirth Of Spider-Man: A Series Of Events (Part 1)

As of right now, the cast of the new Spider-Man movie is coming together and is beginning principal photography on December 6, 2010. It seems really soon, considering Spider-Man 4 was just cancelled last January and won’t be releasing until July 2, 2012, but that will give the filmmakers enough time to perfect the post-production parts of the movie and give us the Spider-Man movie we’ve been waiting for. But how did we get from there to here? For almost a year and a half, I’ve recorded every bit of news information on the history of the failure that was Spider-Man 4. For those who forgot the bizarre rumours and casting that led Spider-Man 4 into the ground and angered fans hearing of the reboot’s possible decisions, don’t sweat, Spidey fans, our movie is headed in the right direction!

First off, we remember back on May 4, 2007 when the third installment of the popular franchise, Spider-Man 3, was released. I remember the first review was from a fan at a preview screening. He posted on Rotten Tomatoes that it was obviously the best in the series and everything we’ve been waiting for, giving it a rating of 9.5/10. You could just hear my mind explode from inside of my head. I then ordered the novel off of Amazon and read it in a day. Loved it.

The novel was so well written, and included certain scenes, made scenes better, and had a heart that the movie failed to bring to the screen. I was certain it would be my favorite movie, not just in the series, but ever. It was May 11 when I got to see the film, and I forced myself to enjoy it more than I could bare to admit. Eventually, my brain decided that I really liked the film and it was obvious that I would get it on DVD.

The critics and fans opinions were mixed, but it received almost a billion in box office dollars. After a few more viewings, I popped in Spider-Man 2 and immediately discovered what the third was missing. Yes, it’s messy, but it’s damn entertaining and has a great story to finish off the series, but it’s cheesy and sort of sloppy, those scenes I thought were so funny, eventually became embarrassing (Emo Peter Dancing, anyone?), and the heart just wasn’t in the right place. But fear no more Spidey fans, a fourth film was shortly announced and our hero was going in the right direction to give us what could possibly be a great second trilogy.

Sam Raimi signed onto the film, Zodiac screenwriter James Vanderbilt was writing the first draft, and the entire cast and crew were certain to return, except for Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. So who was rumoured to possibly replace them? Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood? Jake Gyllenhaal and Mandy Moore? Patrick Fugit? Well, they were just rumours and Tobey Maguire was promised a $50 million dollar check and quickly signed on.

Kirsten Dunst’s reason for wanting to leave? She would never do it without Sam and Tobey. That’s why Dunst soon signed on once Maguire was ready to don the mask yet again. Who else is on the roster to return? J.K. Simmons and Dylan Baker as J. Jonah Jameson and Dr. Curt Connors. With Baker signed on, fans anticipated his alter ego The Lizard would finally make his debut after being cut (along with Black Cat) from a draft of Spider-Man 2. After a while, David Lindsay-Abaire was soon hired to rewrite the second draft and another villain was soon rumoured.

As a director of horror films, fans suspected that maybe the direction Raimi wanted to go in was “vampiric”. Morbius the Living Vampire seemed like an obvious choice to be considered based off of Raimi’s history in horror, but would a Spider-Man movie be any good if he was fighting…a vampire? I mean why not? After Twilight and Let the Right One In, vampire movies were and still are all the rage, no matter….how many…they feel…they need…TO MAKE!!

But Raimi insisted Morbius was not the direction he was going and dismissed the rumour. Reports then said that the villain would be “New York-centric”, so who could it be? The Lizard? Mysterio? Chameleon? Once Michael Papajohn announced he was rejoining the cast (and not in a flashback role) at a press conference, fans went beserk and could only guess that the villain was either Mysterio or Chameleon based on the fact that Papajohn’s character is dead.

More script news. Gary Ross (Seabiscuit) was hired to rewrite the second draft and James Vanderbilt was hired to write the fifth and sixth installments. What we didn’t know was that Vanderbilt had written a secret ‘reboot’ script (possibly ‘instead’), but we’ll get into that in “Part 2”. So another rewrite by a different writer? Is this good news?

Could the film be that bad, or does it just need a bit of retouching? That month, Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion. But don’t worry, Spider-Man won’t be a Disney film as it is owned by Sony (sorry Iron Man/The Avengers). Our favorite zombie-slaying/demon-fighting/cameo “artist”, Bruce Campbell soon announced that he had a secret role in the film and that it was “much” larger than his previous cameos. A villain role? He also stated that they were shooting in January 2010 for a May 6, 2011 release. (And just think, they’d already be done filming by now). Sony then announced it would be in IMAX 3D.

Well, maybe Michael Papajohn wasn’t entirely truthful and was just playing around to create a stir because it was revealed that he would not be in the fourth film. So who is the villain? It’s not The Lizard according to Sam Raimi, because Sony wants a villain with a “human face”, but he agrees with the criticism of the third film and tells that the fourth film will “go back to basics”. So fans were dying to know who the villain would be, and their wish was granted when a surprise rumour stated that Rachel McAdams was up for the role of Felicia Hardy/Black Cat whose storyline was that she was the daughter of the new editor of the Daily Bugle and becomes romantically involved with with Peter, figuring out his identity in the process.

But after her father dies in an accident involving Spider-Man, she becomes a threat to Peter. Holy schnikees, that sounded awesome. I loved the intensity of the story and thought this really would help the film get back to basics, also I love Rachel McAdams. But Julia Stiles is then rumoured for the same role as well, who I don’t care for. But is it the Black Cat Felicia Hardy will turn into or Valeria Toomes, meaning that the Black Cat role could still be McAdams’ and the Vulture would also be the villain (Valeria being Adrian Toomes/The Vulture’s daughter)?

Tobey Maguire left the fans guessing when he hinted that The Lizard and Mysterio are still in contention to be the villains. He supported the film, but he probably hadn’t read any drafts of the scripts or known anything about the plot. As a fan, he could only wish the film would surpass his expectations. But a bombshell revealed that Black Cat wouldn’t be in the film, but Felicia Hardy would. She would become a new villain…The Vultress…the daughter of the Vulture…who would be played by John Malkovich…in a role offered to Anne Hathaway… yikes. This had to be a rumour, this had to be a rumour, THIS HAD TO BE A RUMOUR.

It wasn’t, this was the real deal, a fanboy’s worst nightmare, a film to top Batman & Robin as the worst superhero movie of all time. Why, oh why?! I’m guessing we have Abaire or Ross to blame, because I heard Black Cat was in the original script by Vanderbilt, not The Vulturess. After rumours that Spider-Man 4 was delayed, Sony shot them down, along with Tobey Maguire, but then were forced to confirm the film was delayed. Why? Sam Raimi absolutely hated the scripts (as would us all) and wanted a complete refresh of the script by original screenwriter Alvin Sargent.

Good. But, John Malkovich was confirmed to be playing the Vulture and even began discussing the film in interviews. Sony soon announced that the film would never make the May 6, 2011 release date, and spiraled into production hell. Sony had two choices, continue to make this hell-of-a-disaster, which could have easily been done filming and ready for post-production NOW, had Sony hired Alvin Sargent or a better screenwriter in the first place, or press the “Start Over” button. So in January 2010, the decision was made. Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire were fired. The cast and crew was to be completely refreshed. The secret reboot script by James Vanderbilt was bought and Sony pressed the surprise reboot button and all hell came loose.

This was one of the biggest stories of the year in the movie world. How could Sony decide to reboot one of the biggest franchises ever just three years after the last installment? The release date was set for a July 2, 2012 release and Spider-Man was going back to high school for better or for worse.

Today, Andrew Garfield is Spidey, Emma Stone is Gwen, and Rhys Ifans is Dr. Connors/The Lizard. So how did we get from the reboot announcement to here? That’s another stressing, confusing, but ultimately satisfying story that you can check out in Part 2 here.