With rumors of disgruntled Director Sam Raimi surrounding the newest installment of the Spider-Man franchise for days now Slashfilm.com has finally confirmed that Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios axed the sequel to Spider-Man 3. The next Spider-Man movie to hit the theaters (supposedly in 2012) will be a reboot of the franchise featuring a young adolescent Peter Parker. The series starting over translates to Tobey Maguire never donning the Spidey suit ever again. It also means audiences will never get to see an emo-Maguire strut his wicked Jazz skills again (now that's a shame). Also never to appear on a Spider-Man set again will be Director Sam Raimi, James Franco, and the snaggle toothed Kirsten Dunst. All four worked on the first three Spidey projects.
The earliest sign of trouble came from a disagreement over the villain in the fourth installment. Raimi wanted The Vulture to be played by John Malkovich, the studio pushed in their own direction. Then the studio released the date when Spider-Man 4 would drop into theaters... before the script was even completed. Even once the screenplay was completed initial reports stated the May 2011 release of Spider-Man 4 was pushed back because of the script issues. The biggest script issue being that Sam Raimi hated it. He hated it so much it caused him to walk away from the project. This obviously is not the recipe for success with so many pre-production problems (even more than Spidey 3). No definite villain, a release date before a completed script, and then a script the director hates? Pretty easy call to junk the project if you ask me.
While I didn't love Spider-Man 3, I definitely did not hate it. It has some truly amazing parts confined within the mess that is itself. It was clogged with too many villains and story lines. It completely missed the brilliance that should have come from Spider-Man vs. Venom. The casting decision for Eddie Brock was probably the worst piece of the whole project. Wimpy Eric from That 70's Show (Topher Grace) does not translate into a bad ass, one of a kind, devious, villainous, ultimate adversary to Peter Parker. Topher Grace could possibly be the only guy in the business that looks less threatening than Tobey Maguire.
The Spider-Man movie executives looking to fill their pockets with more web covered money after the success of Spider-Man 2 pushed up the third film's production even before the second film even hit theaters. The script initially only included Sandman, but was redrafted many of times to increase the role of Eddie Brock, include the villain Venom, and a larger part for Gwen Stacey. By the time the final script was completed it was so complex that writer Alvin Sargent considered making it into two films. Of course that didn't happen, but does this scenario sound familiar?
Many did not like Spider-Man 3 and it's uncertainty throughout production and pre-production are partly to blame. With the fourth movie starting off even rockier than its predecessor I think a fresh start is what was really necessary for another successful installment in the Spidey franchise; even if it does mean starting from scratch. This announcement is bittersweet in my opinion. I loved the first two Spider-Man films and enjoyed the third, so I am truly saddened to not see a new chapter from this creative group.
If the fourth film was going to be produced by pressure from the studio and not the filmmakers themselves, I think this was the right decision by Raimi. Plus with all the success of the rebooted franchises recently (Star Trek, Batman, The Hulk) who is to say that a fresh version of Spider-Man can't be great or even better than the first trilogy? A difficult task indeed.
The reboot of Spider-Man will have an all new cast and creative team, so audiences will see Spidey like never before. Apparently the script for the reboot has already been written by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, Basic). Vanderbilt is also slated to write the scripts for the two planned sequels to the reinvented Spider-Man franchise. The new version of Peter Parker and his alter web slinging ego will have a whole new look and feel.
Entertainment Weekly calls the script, "gritty and contemporary," and "a move similar to Batman Begins restarting the Batman franchise seven years after Batman and Robin underwhelmed fans and critics."
I am not really sure what the above details will bring about for our nerdy super hero, but the reference of the Spider-Man reboot being anything like Batman Begins should give any comic book or movie fan optimism. While Spider-Man has never been about gritty, a new voice in the series could prove to be a good thing. No one really had faith in Christopher Nolan, and look what he did for Batman.
What is next for Sam Raimi? He is rumored to be taking up the Director role for the long stalled World of Warcraft movie.