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What Vulture's Costume Would Have Looked Like In Sony's Canceled Spider-Man 4 Movie

It may be shocking to some that superheroes weren't always a billion-dollar investment. Sure, there have always been popular movies like Tim Burton's "Batman" and the Christopher Reeves version of Superman, and despite these films getting at least one sequel, they never quite launched giant cinematic universes. Before the behemoth that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe and whatever DC is calling their current franchise iteration, there were two movies in the early 2000s that helped jump-start the current obsession with superheroes. According to Collider, these were Bryan Singer's "X-Men" and Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man," which saw "Spider-Man" become the first movie to make $100 million in its opening weekend.

With Tobey Maguire in the titular role of Spider-Man/Peter Parker, 2002's "Spider-Man" sees the beloved wall-crawler face off with one of his most prolific arch-villains, Norman Osborn/Green Goblin (William Dafoe). Considering the runaway success of this film, it was only a matter of time before a sequel was greenlit, and in 2004, "Spider-Man 2" was released. Wildly considered one of the best superhero films of all time, "Spider-Man 2" has Spider-Man battling Doctor Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), better known as Doctor O,ctopus for their robotic set of prehensile limbs. Unfortunately, "Spider-Man 3" failed to meet financial and critical expectations, and Sony and Raimi's collaboration ended. However, considering that the production of movies usually spans years at a time, it has recently come to light what another famous Spider-Man villain may have looked like in Sony's abandoned "Spider-Man 4."

Vulture was originally suppose to appear in Spider-Man 3

As a refresher, "Spider-Man 3" bucked the previous movies' focus on a singular villain and instead featured not one but three different villains. These were Venom (Topher Grace), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), and another version of the Green Goblin (James Franco). Needless to say, this bloated movie was the final Maguire-led version of "Spider-Man," though apparently "Spider-Man 4" was already in the early stages of production. Not only that but "Spider-Man 3" had gone through several stages throughout its production. During an interview with JoBlo, Church explained that "Spider-Man 3" originally only featured Sandman and Franco's Green Goblin but had Vulture teased at the beginning of the film. This tease would have led to Vulture being the main villain of "Spider-Man 4."

Church added, "They introduced at the very beginning the character of Vulture, but he was only in it briefly and then at the very end of that picture they were gonna bring The Vulture back just to sorta set the stage that he was probably going to be the main villain in Spider-Man 4. But then, obviously all of that stuff sort of derailed. Well, not so much derailed, but took a different railway." As reported by Den of Geek, John Malkovich was in talks to appear as Adrian Toomes/Vulture, though obviously, this never came to pass. So what would the Vulture would have looked like in the long lost "Spider-Man 4?"

The Vulture suit in Spider-Man 4 would have been more birdlike

Although fans eventually got a chance to see the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton, in "Spider-Man: Homecoming," it seems like there had been another version long in the works before this 2017 film, with practical elements of the costume already created. The reason for the cancellation of this film? Script issues. 

According to Variety, Raimi explained why he gave up on his version of "Spider-Man 4" by saying, "I wanted to make a Spider-Man movie to redeem myself for that. [The aborted] 'Spider-Man 4' — that was really what that was about. I wanted to go out on a high note. I didn't want to just make another one that pretty much worked. I had a really high standard in my mind. And I didn't think I could get that script to the level that I was hoping for by that start date."

Sharing three images on Twitter, comic book author Ken Penders showed off a still-in-progress version of the Vulture's iconic weaponized wings. The first image sees the Vulture's wings spread out, and one can clearly see the mechanical aspect of the costume in hard lines, angles, and metal. Penders captioned this particular image by saying, "Before Tobey & Sam were bid adieu by Sony, work actually had begun on SPIDER-MAN 4, and I visited friends who were working on the Vulture's costume intended for actor John Malkovich. Once production shut down, all materials were turned in. I've sat on this for almost 15 years." Some design elements may have even been lifted for Keaton's version of the character, though the "Spider-Man 4" definitely leans into the bird inspiration for the costume, as where the "Homecoming" iteration is closer to the look of a fighter jet.

The Spider-Man 4 Vulture costume was created with practical effects

Ken Penders then posted and captioned some more pictures by saying, "My bad. It seems I DID have a pic where the John Malkovich body mold can clearly be seen as well as a pic showing the controls to manipulate the wings. The things one finds lying around on hard drives I haven't looked at for awhile & did so while searching for something else." Again, these behind-the-scenes pictures show just how much of the costume and design had already gone into creating the Vulture costume, and it definitely appears to be more on the practical side of effects as opposed to simply a motion capture suit.

Whatever the case may be, these images show off what might have been had "Spider-Man 4" ever come to pass. Though certain elements of "Spider-Man 4" were later adapted into "Spider-Man: Homecoming," it would have been interesting to see how Sam Raimi would have redeemed the original "Spider-Man" franchise after the response of "Spider-Man 3." Even now, Raimi expresses a hope to return someday to direct another "Spider-Man" movie, and in April 2022, Raimi told Rolling Stone that he is still interested in doing another "Spider-Man" film with Tobey Maguire, assuming that the story is there and that it meets his high standards after the "Spider-Man 3" debacle. Either way, it is still pretty cool to see what the Vulture may have looked like in another reality where "Spider-Man 4" may have come to pass.