The Marvel Superhero Films That Never Were: JAMES CAMERON'S SPIDER-MAN - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Marvel Superhero Films That Never Were: JAMES CAMERON'S SPIDER-MAN

I'll be Ock!

In the early 1990s, James Cameron wrote a treatment for a Spider-Man movie, one which he was also set to direct. At the time, Carolco Pictures (who'd produced both Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Total Recall) had acquired the rights to the Marvel comic-book character for a cool $5 million, and were prepared to stump up a budget of 10 times that for Cameron's Spider-Man film.

After completing work on True Lies, Cameron submitted a 57-page "scriptment" to Carolco with an alternate story. Part screenplay, part narrative story outline, the scripment later leaked online. To say Cameron wanted to make some changes to the Spidey mythology is an understatement!

Cameron's take was quite mature in content and laced with profanity. The scripment describes Peter Parker as "your basic sexually pent-up adolescent" and includes more than one scene featuring Peter spying on Mary Jane in her underwear and another with the two of them having sex on top of the Manhattan Bridge!

And in other climax news (a-hem) Cameron's film was to end with a showdown atop the World Trade Center.

Despite the mature theme, Marvel rep Pamela Rutt spoke about Spider-man's appearance staying true to his origins.
"I understand that the new design of Spider-Man will revert back to his look in earlier days. It will be more faithful to the original rendering of the character, with changes around the eyes."
Spider-man was to have organic web-shooters, the result of being bitten by an escaped experimental spider, natch! Only this spider-bite origin story would see Peter Parker violently convulsing through an hallucinatory nightmare, invoking Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

Villain wise, a trio of Doc Ock, Electro and Sandman were included. Electro was named Carlton Strand, instead of Max Dillon as he is in the comics. His character was now to be a successful "Donald Trump-type" businessman, a megalomaniacal parody of corrupt capitalists. Oh, how right Cameron was! Even more on the nose, in one scene Electro attempts to rape a woman but ends up killing her. He then brings her back to life all using his powers to finish the 'job'. Lance Henrickson was linked to the role.

Sandman varied from the comic books as well. Instead of Flint Marko's character, Cameron's Sandman (simply named Boyd) was not caught in a nuclear blast on a beach, rather mutated by an accident involving Philadelphia Experiment-style bilocation and atom-mixing. Cameron's long time collaborator Michael Biehn was who the director had in mind for the Sandman.

As for the third in the trio of villains, throughout the whole process Arnold Schwarzenegger's name was continually linked with Dr. Octopus, and Carolco were keen for a major star like Schwarzenegger to play one of the villains, with a rep for the company commenting,
"This is going to be as big as the 'Batman' movie. This is a big-budget film where we will try to pull in that kind of a triple deal"
"Triple deal" referring to Batman's powerhouse troika of star names Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson and director Tim Burton.

So, with Schwarzenegger as the Nicholson, Cameron as the Burton, who would be the Spider-man equivalent of Michael Keaton's Batman?

It's said that Cameron suggested a young, relatively unknown actor called Leonardo DiCaprio as his Web Slinger!

Later rewrites and rumours linked Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can’t Lose), Charlie Sheen, Bruce Campbell, Jason Patric, Owen Wilson, Jim Carrey and even later-to-be Joker actor Heath Ledger with the role of Spider-man in Cameron's big screen adaptation. There was even a draft adding a fourth villain, the Green Goblin, with Jack Nicholson said to be the desired actor to portray Spider-Man’s arch nemesis.

Rounding out the proposed cast was Maggie 'Downton Abbey' Smith as Aunt May Parker, Robyn 'Twin Peaks' Lively as Mary Jane Watson, and R. Lee 'Full Metal Jacket' Ermey as J. Jonah Jameson.

Why the film never got made is down to a long, convoluted legal battle involving Cameron's contract and who could and couldn't receive a producer credit. The result of the lengthy litigation saw both Carolco and Marvel go bankrupt! Yes, Marvel went bankrupt in 1996, just a decade before they began filming their first Marvel Cinematic Universe feature, Iron Man.

By the time the dust settled on the court case, Sony/Columbia had nabbed the screen rights for Spider-man, and Cameron had signed an exclusive deal with Fox barring him from directing the movie. Sony, with Sam Raimi set about producing their own version, and the rest is history.

Would you liked to have seen James Cameron's take on Spider-Man?

Peyton Reed's Fantastic Four

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