Caffeinated Clint : Spider Bite


While the interconnected world of fanboys bow their heads and sulk silently into the night, Sony push ahead with their just-announced “Spider-Man” reboot.

To most, it’d seem the most fruitlooped idea Amy Pascal has had since uprooting Soderbergh’s “Moneyball” from a production schedule, with many asking why Sony didn’t move heaven and earth to keep the “Spider-Man” golden team of Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst happy?

I’ll tell you why, it was better for business to let them walk.

But first, for those that missed it, here’s a recap of the previous episode in this series of the Spectacular Adventures of the Amazing Spider-Man : James Cameron hands in detailed scriptment for new film, but due to the rights… Oh, don’t need me to go that far back?

….. OK, as of a fortnight ago – OK to start there? – Sony were pushing ahead with a “Spider-Man 4”. With the film penciled in for a May 2011 release, all thrusters were on – Raimi, Maguire and Dunst had committed to the project, casting had begun (with John Malkovich and Anne Hathway in talks to play the villains, father-and –daughter team The Vulture and The Vulturess), scouting had begin, and, as we’re now discovering, several of the kitchen’s cooks were greasing the pan that was the troubled screenplay.

Raimi was always adamant that should he return to direct “Spider-Man 4” that he got a lot more creative control than what he had on the elongated toy commercial known as “Spider-Man 3”. And apparently, Sony agreed to it.

Raimi told me last year that he truly believed there was one more “Spider-Man” left in him. “I think I can do a good job, if not a better job, than I’ve done before”, said the filmmaker. “I really feel like I know the character in a way I haven’t been able to put on film just yet”.

Sony seemingly didn’t share Raimi’s vision for the new film, and pretty soon the horror icon found himself caught in a Web of Shit.

When it came to the crunch, Raimi was inadvertently reminded that he was a hired gun. He had no say in what form the next “Spider-Man” takes.

The latest screenplay was said to have featured the villain Raimi wanted, The Vulture, but at the request of the studio, the writers (about five were on the project at different times) also added The Vulturess, a new character that Anne Hathaway was loosely in talks for at one stage (she dropped out of the race late last year). There was also talk of a third villain.

In other words, this was going to be “Spider-Man 3 Part 2”.

A friend that works at Sony Pictures Technologies – an off-shoot of Sony – shot me an email tonight, after reading my item on the “Spider-Man 4” cancellation.

“Did you read the script man?”, he asks, “I mean, it was fucking terrible – it was pretty much Spider-Man 3 all over again. I kid you not, it was just a mess. Seriously. You say people are ‘sobbing’ now, but had this film been made, fans would’ve been jumping off roof-tops!”.

He adds, “Basically, it was Peter Parker, in between changing his little one’s diapers, fighting the new editor of the Daily Bugle, who’s The Vulture, and Black Cat. They’ve rewritten it since then (Black Cat is now Vulturess), but I believe the gist of the story remains. Or.. remained”.

“Thing is, there’s another script – this reboot script, that was completed around the same time as the Spider-Man 4 script. And it’s apparently – haven’t read it myself – much better.”.

I called my pal to see if he had any more info but he didn’t, only that the new film will be the first in a new trilogy – a trilogy that’ll be more “Dark Knight” than “Spider-Man” as we know it. “They’re losing the fluff”, he said.

I’m guessing by “fluff” he means laughs… and Bruce Campbell cameos.

The studio was never certain that Raimi, Maguire and Dunst would return for another (the trio had all said, at different times, that it was unlikely they’d be back for another), so they had a contingency plan up their sleeve – reboot.

When Raimi, still wrestling with both the studio and the script, realized he wasn’t going to make the 2011 release date, he walked.

It was then that the studio basically realized they’d be better off to initiate plan B then to go chasing a new director for “Spider-Man 4” – particularly since the script wasn’t up to scratch, and especially considering they weren’t certain whether they’d be able to retain Maguire after he discovered Raimi had exited.

And from a business point of view, it might be the best decision.

You see, if Sony don’t keep making “Spider-Man” movies, the rights (like “Hulk” has) revert back to Marvel (And ultimately, “Spider-Man” would end up at Disney) – their victious cash-cow of a franchise would be someone elses.

And considering “Spider-Man 4” would likely be the last one for Raimi and Maguire, it’d seem more fruitful to restart the series. By recasting the key roles, Sony would then be able to guarantee themselves a few more Spidey flicks (Fox have applied the same strategy to their “Fantastic Four” series – which they’re rebooting, too) – thus, keeping Marvel’s pits off the property.

From a fan’s perspective, I’m saddened that Raimi, Maguire and Dunst won’t be back, but at the same time, hearing how dodgy the script was, and getting the feeling Raimi’s heart was longer in it, I’m kinda glad they pulled the pin on it.

There’s speculation that James Cameron, who wrote a treatment for “Spider-Man” in the 90s, might helm the reboot. And if so, then you can pretty much guarantee there’s something in those 3D rumours too. If that happens, color me interested…. as I said though, it’s speculation (I’d say it’s more likely that Cameron will announce he’s retiring on the riches of “Avatar” and headed into Space).

Whatever the case, ya know, there’s only one really depressing thing about the current “Spider-Man” series coming to an end…… DYLAN BAKER NEVER GOT TO PLAY THE LIZARD!! (Fuck, I’d be chasing some coin, man!). Baker, who plays Dr Curt Connors in the “Spider-Man” series, had been promised he’d get his moment to be ‘The Lizard’ (Connor’s alter-ego) in a future film… but with the studio restarting the series,it’s unlikely they’re going to keep Baker, and scrap everyone else.

But hey, thems the breaks.

I’d been a writer for a few years when the first “Spider-Man” came out (remember interviewing Raimi for the first time in, what was it, 2001?). Nearly a decade after that first film, I’m still doing… what I’m doing. And I’ve seen a series come to its, well, natural conclusion. Kinda reminds me how fuckin’ old I’m getting… but also, it feels like the series’ end is timed to coincinde with the next phase of my career – as in, it’s another reminder that it’s time to move on.

But I digress, I’m just glad Sam Raimi had the chance to make two good “Spider-Man” movies (lets face it, the third suck). I’m also pleased I had the opportunity to interview Sam several times over the course of the trilogy – and also meeting him a couple of times at Comic Con – as well as get to chat to Maguire, Dunst, and producers Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin over the course of the series, too.

Jesus, sounds like I’m reading a sermon…

Look, don’t worry too much fans, this is Sony – tell me they didn’t knock it out of the park with their Bond prequel? “Casino Royale” was better than any Pierce Brosnan-led “Die Another Day” follow-up was ever going to be. I’m sure Pascal, Arad, Ziskin and company are going to take good care of the web-slinger. Yes, they fucked up with “Spider-Man 3”, but that was mostly due to a poor script, and from the sounds of it, they’ve chosen the right script this time. …. oh shit, who am I kidding!? SONY, DON’T STUFF THIS UP!

“‘Spider-Man’ will always be an important franchise for Sony Pictures and a fresh start like this is a responsibility that we all take very seriously,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. “We have always believed that story comes first and story guides the direction of these films and as we move onto the next chapter, we will stay true to that principle and will do so with the highest respect for the source material and the fans and moviegoers who deserve nothing but the best when it comes to bringing these stories and characters to life on the big screen.”

I’m holding you to that Lynton – Otherwise, see you in San Diego.

So who are Sony likely to be chasing for the new ‘Teenage’ Spider-Man?

Here’s a few faces I BET they’ll be screen-testing.

Taylor Lautner
– No-brainer. He’s the ‘It boy’ of the moment. Got the muscles to pull it off; the female audience too. Whether the “Twilight” and future “Max Steel”wants to commit to another series though?

< strong>Michael Angarano
– Another rising young star. Has just snagged a role in Steven Soderbergh’s “Knockout”, which ‘ll no doubt put him to the test. He’s also played a superhero before – in Disney comedy “Sky High”.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse
– If Sony are looking for someone with that sweet, but slightly goofy Maguire-esque demeanor again… they’ll definitely be bringing “Superbad” and “Kick-Ass” star Mintz-Plasse in to audition.

Patrick Fugit
– Young actor, best known for his role in “Almost Famous”, was said to be in Sony’s sights as a possible replacement for Maguire had the “Brothers” star not signed on for the fourth film. Possible that Fugit’s still on their radar.

Liam Hemsworth
– With brother Chris playing Marvel’s “Thor”, and already impressing with his roles in “Star Trek” and the upcoming “Red Dawn”, might Liam suddenly take off, too? Isn’t very Maguire-ish, nor someone you’d immediately think of as Peter Parker, but he is muscly, and he is young. And he can speak English.

Michael Cera
– Would probably make for quite a good Peter Parker. Only thing is, I can’t imagine it being something Cera who seems to have a woody for quirkier, less financially-fat projects – would be interested in in the slightest.

Zac Efron
– Young. Has a following. Was looking to do a comic-book esque adventure movie at one stage (“Johnny Quest”). It’s quite possible his peeps will be submitting him for the role.But shit, if he gets the gig, I hope he doesn’t insist on singing and swinging…