‘SPIDER-MAN 4’: STATE OF THE SEQUEL
Untangling the early word on the wall-crawler’s next film, the new villains and whether Sam Raimi will return
By Rickey Purdin
Posted November 12, 2007 4:05 PM
Set those spider-senses to “tingle”—everybody’s favorite Manhattan hero plans to swing back into theaters with or without his original stars and director.
The news should come as no surprise, considering the previous three Spider-Man films earned a combined worldwide gross of over $2.4 billion and made A-list celebs out of stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst while transforming Sam Raimi into a comic movie directing god. And after this summer’s “Spider-Man 3” burst box office records with an opening-day gross of over $151 million, the question was no longer “if” there would be another installment, but “when?”
So what’s in store for the radioactive franchise? Read on!
WHEN WILL IT HIT?
While execs and Raimi have confirmed “Spider-Man 4” will eventually see the light of day, no one’s been able to hammer down a firm release date.
“It’ll probably be out in four years at the latest,” Dunst told reporters. But even that estimate seems like too long of a wait. The gap between the first installment and the sequel was two years. A three-year gap took place between the next two films. Most analysts say a date somewhere in the summer of 2009 or 2010 is more likely.
But if Raimi moves on to another project, that release date could cause problems…
IS RAIMI COMING BACK?
Raimi recently admitted an interest in directing “The Hobbit,” a “Lord of the Rings” prequel set up at New Line Cinema. Because the film rights to the fantasy classic expire soon, New Line set a release date for December 2009, which could spell crunch-time for Raimi’s decision to return to Spidey should his Elven interests turn serious.
“Sony Pictures is going to be making many more ‘Spider-Man’ pictures,” Raimi told sources in June. “I just don’t know what [my] future holds yet.”
Unlike Maguire and Dunst, who signed three-picture deals, Raimi was contracted for each of the “Spider-Man” flicks one at a time. And while he hasn’t yet confirmed what his role will be on the next installment, he has said he’ll be involved in some way.
“I don’t know if I’ll just be a producer on it, but if I can work with the writer in such a way so that directing would be right for me, I don’t know,” teased the director in interviews. “We’ve had our first meeting and we’re looking for the writer.”
IF RAIMI’S OUT, WHO’S DIRECTING?
While it’s certain producers Avi Arad, Laura Ziskin and Grant Curtis will return for a swing through the Spidey-verse, there’s been no word at all on who may replace Raimi should he drop out of the production. When asked who he’d choose if he could pick a replacement, Raimi rhetorically toyed with his options.
“There’s plenty of great directors out there,” laughed Raimi. “I don’t know if I won’t be directing the picture, but I would want somebody who really understands [Spider-Man] and loves him and could bring a passionate love of the character to the screen. A character director. Nobody else.”
IS TOBEY DONE?
In early 2007 interviews, Maguire hinted “Spider-Man 3” might be his last adventure in webbed tights. That tune soon changed, though.
“I feel very proud of the three movies that we’ve made,” the actor told reporters. “I feel like the stories all deserved to be told, and, you know, if they come up with a good movie, and the whole team wants to get back together, then I’m up for it.”
Maguire later said he’d even consider returning without Raimi if the story were good enough. Now, though, it may be a question of time. Maguire’s production company plans to fast-track a “Robotech” film after seeing the $690 million 2007’s “Transformers” pulled in. Should giant robots take up most of his time over the next couple of years, Maguire may have seen his last days as Peter Parker.
WILL WE SEE MORE DUNST AND HOWARD?
More so than Raimi and Maguire, Dunst seems married to the idea that she’ll return only if the other two do, as well.
“There’s an openness at the end [of ‘Spider-Man 3’], which I like, but I feel like this is a trilogy unto itself,” she said in an online interview. “And I think if we venture into a fourth, it will be some time from now and in a new way. Because I don’t think Sam can do that—continuing on this same course. I think he needs to venture as an artist and do other things; otherwise, none of us will have anything good to bring to the fourth. So I think we all need to venture out a little bit, and then maybe we’ll come back together one day and do another one.”
Peter wouldn’t find himself alone if Dunst fell out, though. Gwen Stacy (played by Bryce Dallas Howard in “Spider-Man 3”) could provide plenty of love interest charisma in a new installment. Raimi said in past interviews that Bryce will probably return for another sequel.
WHO COULD BE THE NEW SPIDER-MAN?
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal (“Brokeback Mountain”), who bears an uncanny resemblance to Maguire, seems like the top replacement option. Gyllenhaal was rumored to be Maguire’s substitute in 2004 when a back injury briefly threatened to keep Maguire out of “Spider-Man 2.” When Maguire healed, the speculation faded, but the idea that Gyllenhaal could capably crawl into the spidery role still has legs.
The biggest setback with Gyllenhaal may be his high profile, which probably equals a high salary. Many believe Sony would look for a lower-key actor should Maguire not return.
According to online rumors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“The Lookout”) stands tall at the front of a short list of possible replacements. Levitt’s everyman look seems perfect for the role of the nerdy Parker, and his growing heat in Hollywood only makes him a better catch.
WHO’S WRITING IT?
Early reports indicated David Koepp would tackle “Spider-Man 4.” The writer penned the first Spidey film and he most recently scripted “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which reunited Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford. Considering the Spider-Man crew needed the same revitalizing flavor, the Koepp news seemed ideal.
By July, though, Raimi mentioned the production was still looking for a new writer, which meant Koepp’s first draft for “Spider-Man 4” didn’t overwhelm him and the studio. That was confirmed late last month when Sony hired James Vanderbilt to take a stab at the script. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Vanderbilt, who wrote the screenplay to David Fincher’s “Zodiac” and did a polish on David Benioff’s script for “Wolverine,” was chosen by the studio because they liked “his character-driven approach to the story rather than a focus on special effects.”
WILL WE SEE MORE VENOM?
In the beginning, Sony had yet to figure out whether the sticky, black symbiotic villain (seen blown to bits at the end of “Spider-Man 3”) will actually return, but with Vanderbilt now on board writing a new draft, that could be a different story. Topher Grace, who appeared as Venom host Eddie Brock in “Spider-Man 3,” hasn’t confirmed his possible appearance in a new film (sure he was destroyed by a pumpkin bomb, but you know no one ever truly dies in the movies), but as comic fans know, there are plenty of other places the film could go in terms of villains if they want to keep symbiotes in the mix.
WHAT OTHER VILLAINS WILL APPEAR?
Should the next film continue following comic book storylines, it seems fair to reason that producers may shine the villain spotlight on Carnage, the red, sadistic offspring of Venom. But the possibilities don’t end there, as a couple of baddies have been hinted at over the span of the films.
First and foremost is the Lizard, aka Dr. Curt Connors. First mentioned in “Spider-Man” as Peter’s laboratory supervisor, Connors, played by actor Dylan Baker, has appeared in each of the Spidey films since and is destined to eventually transform into the humanoid reptile rogue.
“I love Dylan Baker as a person, and I really like the character he is developing,” Raimi once admitted. “The Lizard is probably one of my favorite characters. But [‘Spider-Man 4’] will probably have to start with the central journey of the main character to arrive at the proper villain.”
Also in the mix is John Jameson’s villainous persona Man-Wolf. The astronaut son of Spidey-hating Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, John first appeared onscreen in “Spider-Man 2” as a new love interest for Mary Jane. In the comics, John became possessed by a supernatural ruby that transformed him into a powerful werewolf. With the character already introduced in the franchise, he seems like an obvious pick as one of the next villains. Still, Raimi confesses he’d like to amp up the danger in “Spider-Man 4” to more bad guys than ever before.
“I would love to see Electro, Vulture, maybe the Sinister Six as a team,” the director teased publicly. So would we! But early signs indicate Sony Pictures would like to scale the fourth film back to feature no more than two villains because the last movie, with its trio of baddies, was considered too “cumbersome.”
WILL A GREEN GOBLIN APPEAR?
Although he’s tied closely to the Spider-Man mythos, Green Goblin may have seen his last days as a big-screen Spider-baddie. James Franco, whose Harry Osborn character carried on the Goblin legacy from his father Norman (played by Willem Dafoe), was signed for only three films. And because Harry died a hero in “Spider-Man 3,” there’s not much reason for the Goblin’s pointy-eared mask to pop up again, especially with so many more amazing villains to unveil.
Whatever happens, though, expect fans to fill lines when the wall-crawling franchise phenomenon returns. But if you can’t wait until the movie, you can feed your Spidey fix with an all-new animated series coming out in March (“Spectacular Spider-Man”), or, if you’re in New York City, catch “Spider-Man: The Musical” on Broadway, slated for late 2008 or early 2009!
CASTING CALL: SPIDER-MAN 4
Check out these picks to inject new life into the franchise!
Sam Raimi may not return.Tobey’s in doubt. Kirsten’s waiting to decide.
But if the all-star cast and its captain don’t return, the Spider-Man franchise will live on—and we’ve got a cast of fresh faces and new villains to carry the torch of the Web-head’s adventures!
PETER PARKER/SPIDER-MAN: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
With star-making rolls in indie crime films such as “Brick,” the 26-year-old broke out of his child actor image and proved to audiences and critics he had the acting chops of a serious star on the rise. Combine that with the actor’s wiry physique and smart-aleck experience in network sitcoms, and you’ve got a stunning new take on Peter Parker a la Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man.
MARY JANE: Kristen Bell
The “Veronica Mars” and “Heroes” starlet hasn’t landed a movie role to make her a household name yet, but her girl-next-door charms and biting wit could easily make her America’s next Miss Watson.
BLACK CAT: Missy Peregrym
The Spidey franchise could use a love interest with a little more backbone, so why not tap the athletic “Reaper” charmer to toughen up as the wall-crawler’s most famous feline foil?
KRAVEN THE HUNTER: Clive Owen
“Shoot ’Em Up” proved the Brit can play tough guys like nobody’s business. Add a little primal anger to the mix and Spider-Man’s doomed big game hunter will come alive before a tragic death.
MYSTERIO: Crispin Glover
With villainous turns in “Charlie’s Angels” and the upcoming “Beowulf,” Glover cements his rep as the weirdest bad guy in Hollywood—a perfect match for the special-effects-spinning supervillain.
More Venom and Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy? Yes please. Oh, and make Curt Connors aka the Lizard as the new villain already...he's only been in the three movies so far! :p
Interesting casting call choices, but the only one I agree with is Clive Owen as Kraven. Crispin Glover is extremely creepy, but I don't think his creepiness will be done any justice by covering up his face with a giant fishbowl...especially since his facial expressions are the things exuding his creepiness in the first place.
I just can't see Kristen Bell as MJ Watson as she looks too much like Gwen Stacy. I CAN see Kristen Bell as the uber hot Black Cat though...but she'd have to go up a couple of cup sizes to do the part justice. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Peter Parker? BLEAH! What a horrible choice! We don't WANT an even whinier Peter Parker who's that scrawny! This isn't Ultimate Spider-man...this is MOVIE Spider-man!