Although Sam Raimi currently has no plans of creating a sequel to his Spider-Man trilogy, his canceled plot ideas for Spider-Man 4 sound fascinating.
Sam Raimi's unrealized plans for Spider-Man 4 are promising – here's everything known about his plans for the franchise. Instead of treading the same path as most superhero movies of the time and drawing a clear line between fact and fiction, Sam Raimi brought new life to big-screen superhero adaptations by spinning Spider-Man's fantastical yarn into realistic, relatable stories. With Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker at its fore, Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy highlights the coming-of-age ebbs and flows of a teenage hero who endures the lonely pursuit of keeping his neighborhood safe.
After success of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 1 and 2, the third installment met with relatively mixed reviews. However, despite the decline in the franchise's critical ratings, its growing box office numbers convinced Sony to green-light the fourth installment, with Sam Raimi again at its helm. Unfortunately, a web of issues kept holding it back, and Spider-Man 4 never saw the light of day. Since Tobey Maguire's cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy has garnered a new wave of popularity, with his unfinished plans for Spider-Man 4 gradually surfacing. As one would expect, the director's ideas for the fourth film are not only in sync with all the elements that made his original trilogy great, but are also scalable enough to kickstart another arm of the franchise.
Tobey Maguire, Kristen Dunst, J.K. Simmons, and Bryce Dallas Howard were going to reprise their roles in Spider-Man 4 as Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, J. Jonah Jameson, and Gwen Stacy, respectively. Along with them, John Gavin Malkovich's Adrian Toomes/Vulture and Dylan Baker's Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard were scripted as Spider-Man 4's primary villains. According to reports, Anne Hathaway was also taken on board to play Spider-Man's superhero ally, Black Cat. Other confirmed cast members of Spider-Man 4 included Elizabeth Banks as Betty Brant, Bill Nunn as Robbie Robertson, and James Cromwell as Geroge Stacy. In addition, Bruce Campbell was also considered to play the movie's secondary antagonist, Mysterio.
Sam Raimi is known for seamlessly blending horror into Spider-Man's coming-of-age narrative without compromising on the franchise's feel-good overarching themes. While the director was only dipping his feat into creating this mishmash of genres in the Spider-Man trilogy, he was seemingly digging his horror roots deeper into the series by featuring the Vulture as Spider-Man 4's main antagonist. As storyboard artist Jeffrey Henderson revealed, John Gavin Malkovich's super-villain did a lot of "ugly stuff" while working for the government as a private contractor and notoriously got his name from not leaving anything but bones behind during his evil endeavors.
Vulture's BTS images also suggest that Raimi was planning to recreate the terrifying realism he brought to the big screen with Doctor Octopus' life-like cybernetic tentacles. Unfortunately, Spider-Man 4 was canceled before Raimi could bring life to his ambitious take on Vulture. Owing to this, even though the MCU has introduced Micheal Keaton's Vulture, it is hard not to appreciate Sam Raimi's efforts for creating a relatively grittier version of the villain.
Although Spider-Man 4's exact storyline is unknown, the bones of its premise can be guessed based on the bits and pieces of information made available over the years. Since it is a sequel to Spider-Man 3, the movie probably gave Parker's torrid relationship with Mary Jane a break after everything they went through in the preceding film. At the same time, the web-slinging superhero must also be grieving the death of his best friend, Harry Osborne.
Since Spider-Man 2 and 3 briefly highlight Dr. Curt Connors' relationship with Peter Parker in the franchise, Spider-Man 4 would have focused more on his transformation into The Lizard and his motivations for hating Spider-Man. While initial rumors suggested that Anne Hathaway's character, Felicia Hardy, would become Vulture's partner-in-crime, Vulturess. However, Sam Raimi later dismissed the rumors and confirmed that Hathaway's Hardy would team up with Spider-Man as Black Cat.
The details surrounding Vulture's antagonist arc are still under the covers. However, his costume design and backstory suggest that he was likely written as one of Spider-Man's most ruthless enemies. Official concept art from Spider-Man 4 also featured classic antagonists such as Mysterio, Rhino, and Shocker. However, given that Vulture and The Lizard were the primary villains, the others were likely scripted as secondary characters.
The creators of Spider-Man 4 had also visualized a climactic battle between Spider-Man and Vulture, which almost kills the superhero. However, with a twist of fate, Spider-Man would have eventually gained an upper hand by snapping parts of Vulture's wings. Taking Vulture's downfall as a cue, Spider-Man 4's second half was also supposed to introduce Toomes’s daughter as Vulturess, who could later set the stage for Spider-Man 5. According to rumors, Angelina Jolie was considered for Vulturess, but Spider-Man 4's production never reached that point.
Spider-Man 3 got a negative reception compared to its predecessors because it focused more on going big with cheap gimmicks than on character development. Instead of delving deeper into Parker's struggles with understanding the proverbial correlation between "great power" and "great responsibility," Spider-Man 3 portrays Peter Parker as an unlikeable protagonist. The movie also replaces Raimi's signature horror comedy with Peter Parker's cringe-worthy venom-influenced misdeeds and dance montages. While these have aged well over time — thanks to the "Bully Maguire" memes — they did not align too well with Peter Parker's simple yet poignant character development from the first two movies.
Spider-Man 4 would have likely harped on the momentum created by Spider-Man 1 and 2 instead of treading the same path as Spider-Man 3. The known elements of Spider-Man 4's script and Vulture and The Lizard's characterization indicate that the movie was setting up another challenging arc for Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man where he would feel divided between his dual identity. Vulture's arc would have probably given Spider-Man 4 a darker tone compared to Spider-Man 1 and 2, but that would still be more palatable than a retconned Uncle Ben story that justifies Spider-Man's skewed morals in the third film.
Sam Raimi has confessed that his "love for the characters hasn’t diminished one iota," but would only revisit the trilogy if it provides plausible answers for some nagging questions such as "Does Tobey want to do it? Is there an emotional arc for him? Is there a great conflict for this character? And is there a worthy villain that fits into the theme of the piece?" The director has also admitted that even though he did not think it was previously possible, MCU's Multiverse Saga has given him new hope, and he is open to directing a new Spider-Man installment.
Kirsten Dunst, too, has been fairly optimistic about the franchise's future and has claimed that it would be "a no-brainer" for her to return for a future Spider-Man film as Mary Jane. While Sam Raimi and Kirsten Dunst are open to recreating the trilogy's magic with Spider-Man 4, Tobey Maguire has been silent about it. However, his return in Spider-Man: No Way Home shows how much he still admires donning his superhero demeanor.
On multiple occasions, Sam Raimi has talked about how he had to compromise with Spider-Man 3's script after he was forced to add Venom as Spider-Man's nemesis. To ensure he does not make the same mistake twice, he wanted redemption from Spider-Man 4 by ending the franchise on a high note. Unfortunately, to his dismay, the film's production reached a crucial deadline, but he was not satisfied with the end product of the script. To avoid repeating Spider-Man 3's fate, Sam Raimi stepped away from Spider-Man 4, while Sony went ahead with Andrew Garfield's alternate Spider-Man storyline.
NEXT: The Sam Raimi ACTING Role That Got Him Directing Spider-Man
Before Screen Rant, Dhruv wrote over 2K articles for The Cinemaholic, covering anime, television, and movies. Some of his articles on philosophy, self-help, and writing have also been featured in popular Medium publications, such as Mind Cafe, Publishous, and The Writing Cooperative. Using Screen Rant as a platform, he’s now on a mission to learn, grow, and bloom through all things cinema by ranting endlessly about his favorite TV and movie characters. Dhruv’s obsession with television characters goes way back to his school days when he believed he could be as strong as Goku someday. When that didn’t work out for obvious reasons, he traversed the same obsession into writing and started using his words as a medium to teleport himself and his readers to the fantastical worlds of flawed heroes, relatable villains, and overpowered side characters. Just like a shonen protagonist, Dhruv started his journey as a regular high schooler who dipped his feet in things he had little to no interest in. First, civil engineering, then marketing and sales. However, after years of side-hustling his writing endeavors with other pursuits, he decided to turn it into a full-fledged main quest. He may never be as strong as Goku, but his character development in the Game of Life is no less incredible than Vegeta’s.