Sam Raimi is gearing up for a fourth outing from everyone’s favourite neighbourhood Spider-Man.
And, going into his latest stab at the character, the director feels he’s ready to strike out in new directions.
“I've learned a lot of lessons about what people didn't like and missteps that I'd made,” he tells Cinematical. “But I learned those lessons on the previous two, I was just a little quieter about them.
"I made a lot of mistakes, and it's part of the reason I so want to make this next story of Peter Parker."
With that in mind, we've offered some advice as to what's needed to make Spider-Man 4 a return to the glory days of the first two movies…
Next: Stick To Villians We Care About[Page-Break]
1. Stick To Villains We Care About
One of the biggest missteps in the third film’s development was Raimi listening to producer Avi Arad and including “fan favourite” Venom.
“I had never read Venom in the comic books, since they came after my time. Because of that, I didn't have a natural inclination toward him,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2007.
"And when I read those comics, at Avi Arad's urging, I didn't understand where Venom's humanity was. I know that kids think he looks cool, and they think he's a good villain for Spider-Man. I actually didn't.”
Still, he tried to make the best of it, and was complimentary about how the scriptwriters made the character work. But the brief story time devoted to Venom hardly made us believe the director enjoyed cramming him in there.
More recent rumours have had Morbius being considered (“I like it in the Marvel comics when Spider-Man fights Morbius,” Raimi said. “He’s really cool. A vampire! I like that combination of superhero plus supernatural”) and we even suggested some of our own – including Patrick Stewart as The Vulture.
But if the current word (that of “someone we’ve already seen” being the villain this time out) means Dylan Baker finally reaching his character’s destiny as The Lizard, that’s fine, too.
Just as long as it’s someone you have a history with, Sam – a bad guy you read and cared about.
Next: Keep It Sleek[Page-Break]
2. Keep It Sleek
Spider-Man 3 was a bloated, under-plotted, overstuffed mess of a film that, while it had some great action beats, tried to do too much in the space of one script.
Time to trim the fat.
One villain, fewer secondary characters running about and more running time left to explore Peter Parker’s life again.
Just because franchise entries traditionally have to try and top each other for scale, set pieces and splendour, it doesn’t mean you have to slavishly adhere to formula.
Get free, Sam! Unleash your inner, lo-fi Evil Dead side again! We know you can do it.
Next: Go Indie[page-break]
3. Go Indie
Yeah, yeah, we know. Sony will never let Raimi approach Spidey the way he made Drag Me To Hell - stripped down, lean and mean.
But when he chatted to Total Film about the making of Hell recently, his eyes lit up and he talked enthusiastically about having to solve problems without chucking cash at them.
Creativity doesn’t always need a mega budget.
And while he was quick to point out that he also enjoys the scope and scale that Spider-Man afforded, he told us he’d happily attempt a lower-budget Marvel movie.
Plus, we bet the studio’s bean-counters would love it if he could pump out a lo-fi web-slinger who still makes the fans happy and scores megabucks. All the more profit for the corporate overlords…
Think of it for a moment: a Spider-Man movie on a slightly more intimate scale, but with plenty of fun set pieces, and still focused on the characters and more attention paid to the little details.
Next: Tone Down The Angst[page-break]
4. Tone Down The Angst
We don’t mean leave out the character conflict that has been such an engaging part of the films.
It’s simply that everything got ramped up into melodrama for the third film, to such a degree that Peter Parker seemed like a moaning fool and Mary Jane a whiney neurotic.
We don’t mind seeing Peter in conflict with his superhero side, but Spidey also has a long history of quips and quirks that seems to have gone missing from the movies.
Even Sam himself seems to be thinking along these lines...
“I really think I know in my heart who the character is, and I haven't quite been able to sing the song yet, or bring it out to the extent or degree of detail that I feel in my heart that I can,” he said in the Cinematical interview.
“And I may not be successful, but I still feel like I know it better than I'm able to play it. I feel like the kid who really practiced at the piano recital, with years of comic books, and when I got to my other recitals, I sometimes made some missteps with them.”
Next: Ditch Dunst[page-break]
5. Ditch Dunst
Okay, controversial. But we don’t mean get rid of Mary-Jane. She’s an integral part of the Spider-Man mythos.
Even Raimi isn’t 100% sure Dunst will be back, despite the actress saying she’d like to do it.
“Kirsten? I have talked with her, and she’s very excited about the possibility of it,” he told MTV. “I think I’m going to have to read the screenplay and make sure everything we’ve talked about is working, before I could honestly tell you absolutely how it would go.”
Maybe it’s time to think about someone else, then. How about Evan Rachel Wood? She might be getting some experience if she really does sign on to the Spider-Man musical.
And if only Raimi hadn’t used up Bryce Dallas Howard playing Gwen Stacey…
Next: Give Elizabeth Banks More To Do[page-break]
6. Give Elizabeth Banks More To Do
Since Spider-Man 3 arrived, Elizabeth Banks’ career has gone from strength to strength.
She might not be a superstar yet, but she’s more than proved herself as a deft and likable comic actress.
And her star status isn’t even an issue, since the character sells the franchise more than even Tobey Maguire’s name.
So why not have writer David Lindsay-Abaire whip up more of a role for Banks’ Betty Brant – previously only seen working for J Jonah Jameson at the Bugle.
She’d be a winner, we’re sure – and she’d help with lightening up the tone no end.
What would you like to see in Spider-Man 4? Speak below!
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