While we may be currently caught in the web of Tom Holland and the MCU's reboot of Spider-Man, it is easy to forget that the friendly neighborhood hero has been a staple of the Marvel universe for the past 55 years. Most will only think of the Sam Raimi trilogy, which started in 2002, and Marc Webb's "Amazing" series from 2012, but Spidey's history in film stretches back much farther than #SpiderManHomecoming. Jon Watts may be the man behind the current era of Parker and pals, but there was a time when others were spinning a web of ideas round #SpiderMan — in particular, a certain Mr. #JamesCameron.
To Catch A Spider-Man
Before there were icebergs dead ahead, Cameron was planning to bring Spider-Man to cinemas, and even had his very own scriptment (a treatment but with fleshed out scenes of dialogue). The low box office performance of Superman III meant that superhero films weren't what they are today, and no one really wanted them. With that in mind, Cameron saw his chance to weave his own web and told Collider that Carolco Pictures got the rights to Spider-Men and hired him to write/direct a feature when no one was looking:
"Spider-Man was kind of going nowhere. Canon — a very low budget film company back in the 80s — had had it briefly. Nobody had really done anything with it. Marvel characters in general weren’t being developed very well at that time. I got Carolco Pictures to buy Spider-Man. I was going to launch that as a series of films. I wrote quite an extensive treatment – I think eighty or ninety pages long."
Alongside your classic nerd-turns-hero, Cameron also planned to use the film as a slightly creepy representation of the male sexual realization at a time when Peter was hitting puberty. As one scene from the scriptment says, it sounds like things would get a little "sticky" for our hero:
"Something is causing the sheet to stick to him. He lifts it, revealing a sticky, white mass completely covering him, gluing him to his bedding."
Taking a more adult tone (and including the odd swear word), the script also featured scenes in which Peter spied on Mary Jane as she got undressed, and of them having sex atop a bridge after Peter explains how spiders mate. It sounds decidedly more PG-13 that the colorful little venture we are expecting for the #MCU; however, changing the sheets aside, it sounds downright brilliant when you look at the proposed cast.
It was rumored that Cameron saw Leonardo DiCaprio as our titular wall-crawler, while the director's long-time collaborator Lance Henriksen would play Norman Osborn/Green Goblin. Long before Sam Raimi gave us villain overload with Spider-Man 3, Cameron also planned on including Aliens alumnus Michael Biehn as Sandman and #ArnoldSchwarzenegger as Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus.
If that weren't enough, Maggie Smith would have played the doting Aunt May and Full Metal Jacket's R. Lee Ermey would've been J.J. Jameson. If that isn't enough to make you want your own DeLorean to travel back and make the film happen, Cameron also wrote his own unique idea for a tragic character named Carlton Strand. As an updated version of the villain Electro, Strand was a man who had made millions off his ability to control electricity, but was alone thanks to his inability to touch anyone.
Some call it the greatest superhero movie never made, and off the back of the likes of Terminator 2 and Aliens, it isn't hard to see why. Even now, Cameron still has a knack for making an action movie work. While Spider-Man came and went, could the 62-year-old pull out the spandex and bring another hero to our screens? Sadly, for those hoping Cameron could turn his attention to any of the other Marvel or DC faves, don't hold your breath. It sounds like it was Spider-Man or bust:
"When Carolco collapsed, those rights were in play and I didn’t pursue it because I was on to Titanic and I was doing other things," he explained. "When I was a kid: to me there were all the superheroes and then there was Spider-Man. So having not gotten Spider-Man, it’s not like I’m looking around for the next comic book character."
Carolco went bust in the '90s and a shoddy contract meant that the rights went back under offer. Eventually they were bought by Sony, the rest, as they say, is history. Over the years we have seen how well Cameron can create a wonderful hero, villain, or antihero, and I'm frankly raging that his idea with THAT cast never made it to the silver screen. Can you just imagine what it would've been like? Henriksen's Goblin kidnapping MJ, only for Peter to swing in and shout, "Get away from her, you bitch!" Who knows though, the cast are all still alive, so technically this one could still work. However, unless you are planning on doing a Batman v Superman vibe with a much older Parker, I think Leo might have outgrown his tights on this one!
Check out the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming and don't forget our poll below!
Would you have watched Cameron's version?