People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
  Spider-Man 4 delayed over villains
Bad news for fans of Marvel’s web-slinger: Sony has announced that it has delayed the planned spring production start of Spider-Man 4 due to clashes with franchise director Sam Raimi over the script, specifically, who the villain (or villains) will be. It seems that Raimi, a fan of the classic Spider-Man stories of the ‘60s, wants to go with the old-school baddie the Vulture (a middle-aged guy in a flying vulture-suit), while Sony wants, from what I understand, anyone but the Vulture, and to add some sex appeal and throw in the Black Cat (a sexy female thief in a catsuit with a flirty relationship with Spidey; essentially Marvel’s answer to Catwoman). But the last time Raimi had a villain forced on him by the studio, it was Venom in the generally-disliked Spider-Man 3. (Venom is a bad guy from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and Raimi was basically talked into including him against his wishes; I think the results bear themselves out in the fairly mediocre final product.) Raimi originally wanted Spider-Man 3’s villainous tandem to be Sandman and the Vulture, but he relented and replaced the winged bad guy with an evil alien version of Spidey’s costume.

Things could get dicey from here on in. Will Sony stick to their guns and risk Raimi – whose importance to success and the unique vibe of the Spider-Man movies cannot be overstated – walking away? From what I’ve read, the main reason Raimi even agreed to do a fourth movie was to make up for the third (which he has himself acknowledged was a disappointment), so it’s doubly bizarre that Sony is apparently again trying to force him into doing things with the story he doesn’t want to do. Raimi is a massive fan of Spider-Man, so he has a lot personally invested in these movies, probably more than any other director of a superhero franchise, so one would think the studio would let him do his thing (after all, it seemed to work out pretty well in the first two movies). And if Raimi does bail on the series, Sony will be forced to either kill the project entirely (which seems highly unlikely given that Spider-Man is arguably Sony’s biggest franchise), or hire another director to come in and take over, which would basically rip the heart out of the series. There’s an incredible amount of love and heart in the Spider-Man movies (I think that’s one of the main reasons they resonate with viewers the way they do), and Raimi is a very unique filmmaker, so it’s pretty safe to say Spider-Man 4 directed by someone other than Sam Raimi (especially with the cast of the first three intact) just won’t be the same.

I really hope Sony and Raimi can work this out. If we’re going to get a fourth Spider-Man movie, it should be the one that the filmmaker who helped make the franchise into the juggernaut it is wants to make.

In the meantime, Spider-Man 4’s production has been put on hold, and while Sony hasn’t officially moved the May 6, 2011 release date, Paramount and Marvel have just bumped up the release of Thor two weeks to the May 6 slot, which is a bit telling. Stay tuned to see how this plays out.

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