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Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man 4 - Will It Ever Happen?

While the past few decades have seen an abundance of comic book adaptations hit the silver screen, some of the most infamous productions are those that never had a chance to be fully realized. There's Joel Schumacher's canceled "Batman Unchained," George Miller's scrapped "Justice League: Mortal," and Tim Burton's canned "Superman Lives" starring Nicolas Cage as the Man of Steel (which gets a surprise reference in 2023's "The Flash). Then, of course, there's Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 4."

It has been well over an entire decade since the planned fourth entry in Raimi's "Spider-Man" series starring Tobey Maguire as the titular webslinger was canceled, but diehard fans are still consistently and vocally clamoring for a revival of the project. The embers have only been further stoked by Maguire's surprise return to the character in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." With the conversation becoming as fervent as it is, it's worth taking a look at why "Spider-Man 4" didn't come out in the first place, and whether it has an actual chance of happening in the future.

Why isn't Spider-Man 4 happening yet?

Perhaps the biggest sore spot for fans who want a "Spider-Man 4" with Tobey Maguire is that the movie was, at one point, officially slated for release. In a now-infamous tweet from 2009, the official Sony Pictures account confirmed that "Spider-Man 4" would see a release on May 6, 2011. Of course, that didn't happen. While there were once plans for the movie and even some movement in terms of casting, a few key production issues ended up bringing the whole thing crashing down.

In an interview with Vulture, Sam Raimi spoke about the cancellation. "It was simply that we had a deadline and I couldn't get the story to work on a level that I wanted it to work. I was very unhappy with 'Spider-Man 3,' and I wanted to make 'Spider-Man 4' to end on a very high note, the best 'Spider-Man' of them all. But I couldn't get a script together in time, due to my own failings, and I said to Sony, 'I don't want to make a movie that is less than great, so I think we shouldn't make this picture. Go ahead with your reboot, which you've been planning anyway.'"

As for the following decade-plus beyond that initial cancellation, subsequent reboots have shifted the focus away from Maguire to Andrew Garfield's iteration and, most recently, Tom Holland's MCU Spider-Man in turn. However, just because the project hasn't happened yet, that doesn't mean it won't happen in the future.

What Sam Raimi and others have said about Spider-Man 4

With the massive legacy that Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire left behind with their trilogy of "Spider-Man" movies, it's no surprise that the pair and other people involved in the franchise have been prodded for details on a possible "Spider-Man 4" and whether it could actually happen. As it happens, recent developments like Raimi directing "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" and Maguire reprising his role of Spidey in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" have shifted the team's perception of a full-scale return.

In an interview with Fandango, Raimi said that there's at least a slight chance that "Spider-Man 4" could get made, but there's still nothing concrete. "I've come to realize after making 'Doctor Strange' that anything is possible, really anything in the Marvel universe, any team-ups," he explained. "I love Tobey. I love Kirsten Dunst. I think all things are possible. I don't really have a story or a plan. I don't know if Marvel would be interested in that right now. I don't know what their thoughts are about that. I haven't really pursued that. But it sounds beautiful."

Other "Spider-Man" stars and crew members have commented on the possibility of "Spider-Man" 4 over the years, but perhaps the juiciest and most notable recent tidbit comes from actor Thomas Haden Church, who played Sandman in both "Spider-Man 3" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home." "There's always been some kind of ... I've heard rumors ... that Sam Raimi was going to do another [Spider-Man movie] with Tobey [Maguire] and if that happens, I would probably campaign to maybe at least do a cameo," he told ComicBook.com in a 2023 interview.

What could be explored in Spider-Man 4

If "Spider-Man 4" does get made, it would likely draw upon the lingering plot threads left by "Spider-Man 3." The conclusion of that movie sees Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man facing off against Topher Grace's Venom. James Franco's Harry Osborn sacrifices himself to help stop Venom and reconciles with Peter before his death. Mourning the death of his best friend, Peter reconciles in turn with Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson, and thus, the story draws to a close.

While the original script and plot details for "Spider-Man 4" have never been fully detailed, it has been indicated in various instances that the film was going to focus on Maguire's Spidey moving forward from the tragedies he faced in "Spider-Man 3" to face off against a new threat: the villainous Vulture, rumored by Movieline and other sources to be played by "Billions" actor John Malkovich. In the aforementioned Vulture interview, Raimi also confirmed that "The Dark Knight Rises" star Anne Hathaway was cast as Spidey's occasional love interest Felicia Hardy aka Black Cat.

Of course, any pre-existing framework for "Spider-Man 4" as it was in its original state would likely get revised if the project were to get made today. For one thing, fans have glimpsed an older and wiser version of Maguire's webhead in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." It's possible that "Spider-Man 4" would pick up from there instead, chronicling a story with an experienced, veteran Spider-Man. Suffice to say, there are a lot of different ways the film's story could be taken.

Who would star in Spider-Man 4

Arguably the most important element of a potential "Spider-Man 4" movie would be the return of the original star himself, Tobey Maguire. Fortunately, the actor has demonstrated a willingness to return to the role through "Spider-Man: No Way Home," and he's been pretty vocal about being up more. "I love these films and I love all of the different series," he told Marvel. "If these guys called me and said, 'Would you show up tonight to hang out and goof around?' or 'Would you show up to do this movie or read a scene or do a Spider-Man thing?', it would be a 'yes!' Because why wouldn't I want to do that?"

As far as returning cast members go, J. K. Simmons has recurred as J. Jonah Jameson throughout many different "Spider-Man" movies, so it's possible he could come back as well. Kirsten Dunst hasn't completely ruled out a potential return as Mary Jane Watson either. "There's still time," the actor said in an appearance on Deadline's The Actor's Side. "I mean, listen, no one's asked me about anything, but I do think that ... I mean, this multi-universe just keeps going on and on, so ... I feel like that could happen."

As touched upon before, the time that has passed since "Spider-Man 4" saw its cancellation means that any of the new players who were attached to the cast of the movie, like John Malkovich and Anne Hathaway, wouldn't necessarily be involved in a new iteration of the project. Still, Sam Raimi's comments indicate that he would, at the very least, expect Maguire and Dunst to return.