Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The History Of Every Canceled Spider-Man Movie

Spider-Man has had an interesting go of things in Hollywood. No matter who's at the helm, each version of the franchise gets audiences excited with the first film or two before falling flat and getting rebooted with a new actor to try it all again. We saw it with Tobey Maguire, then Andrew Garfield, and have since moved on to Tom Holland — and on the animation front, we can't forget the resounding success of Into the Spider-Verse.

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is sick of seeing his Uncle Ben die. Spider-Man is one of the most recognizable comic book characters in the world, so it makes sense that Hollywood is always looking for ways to bring the character to the screen (and make more money in ticket and merch sales). It should come as no surprise, therefore, that there are a lot of Spider-Man movies that never got off the ground.

Today, we're taking a look at some of those adaptations of the wall-crawler that were never made. Some sound like they might still be worth watching. Others... not so much. Either way, it's a fascinating "what if" look at where Spider-Man might be today if things had turned out differently.

Cannon Films' Spider-Man

As a studio, Cannon Films is generally known for schlocky low-budget films. After all, this is the production company that brought us Lifeforce, Missing in Action, and Masters of the Universe. It seems odd, but this same studio once held the rights to Spider-Man — and they were much closer to releasing their take on the story than you might think.

Cannon picked up the Spider-Man license for a paltry $225,000 in 1985, and their first idea showed a blatant misunderstanding of the character: they talked to Tobe Hooper (the director of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) about making a horror-influenced adaptation in which Spider-Man would have been transformed by someone named Dr. Zork into a human/spider hybrid, complete with eight limbs, and battled against Dr. Zork's other creations rather than joining them.

Luckily, the Spider-Man horror movie was reworked. Cannon's next version of Spider-Man would have featured Peter Parker in college, with Dr. Otto Octavius as the primary villain. Uncle Ben's death, the reluctant Peter saving the day — it's all there. Cannon even made a teaser trailer for the film, and targeted several actors. Tom Cruise was suggested for Peter Parker before they settled on Scott Leva, while Peter Cushing and Bob Hoskins were also looked at for various roles. It's intriguing to imagine what might have been, but given Cannon's track record, it's for the best that this didn't work out.

Roger Corman and Stan Lee's Spider-Man

Roger Corman is known for being a veritable Rumplestiltskin of film — he often took properties no one was interested in and made them into something on very low budgets. He became something of an icon in Hollywood for his unique brand of pop cinema, and mentored numerous filmmakers. He never got too far with it, but Corman also had ideas for his own version of Spider-Man.

Corman planned his Spider-Man movie in the early 1980s, and he even brought Stan Lee in to write it. We don't have a lot of details on why the movie never happened, but it seems that Lee wanted a big-budget spectacular — reportedly, his script included a massive battle between Spidey and Dr. Octopus on top of the United Nations building. The film would also have included several love interests for Peter Parker, including Mary Jane Watson and a Russian KGB agent. (Spider-Man would also prevent nuclear war with Russia by defeating Dr. Octopus. Remember, this was the early '80s. Everything had to include the Cold War.)

Things eventually went south and Corman lost the rights to Spider-Man. He then went on to produce the infamous 1994 Fantastic Four film which was never officially released. Corman has since weighed in on the takeover of cinema by superhero films, calling the stories "simplistic" and referring to them as "modern fairy tales" instead of "pure art."

James Cameron's Spider-Man

Before Titanic, before Avatar, James Cameron explored the very real possibility of a Spider-Man franchise. He told Collider that he even wrote an 80 or 90-page treatment of the first film, but Carolco, the studio he was working with at the time, went under. Cameron's Spider-Man had some bizarre scenes, including Peter using his powers to peep on Mary Jane while she changed and a scene during which he describes the mating habits of spiders as he has sex. On the Brooklyn Bridge.

Depending on which treatment of the film you look at, Cameron had some casting ideas in mind as well. Leonardo DiCaprio was considered for both Peter Parker and Harry Osborn, while Drew Barrymore was considered for Gwen Stacy. Robyn Lively, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Molly Ringwald were in the running for Mary Jane, Maggie Smith was Aunt May, and R. Lee Ermey was J. Jonah Jameson. 

In some versions, the planned villains were Electro and Sandman, who would have been ideally played by Lance Hendrickson and Michael Biehn. According to the Telegraph, another of Cameron's treatments would have also featured Terminator 2 alums Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong as Doc Ock and Peter Parker, respectively. We can picture it, but that doesn't mean we want to see it.

The Amazing Spider-Man 3

Andrew Garfield and director Marc Webb had some heavy lifting to do with The Amazing Spider-Man. Not only did they have to recover from the misstep of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3, but they also had to answer the question "Why are we redoing this hero again already?" Fortunately, the first film of this series was pretty solid, mainly due to its casting. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 didn't fare quite as well, paving the way for Spidey to join the MCU. Considering what we know about what was planned for The Amazing Spider-Man 3, that's probably for the best.

Forbes revealed the planned plot details for the third installment of The Amazing Spider-Man, in which Peter would have invented a serum that brings the dead back to life, resurrecting Gwen Stacy and her father. The serum would also give life to a monster that would join the Sinister Six. Finally, Spider-Gwen would have also been involved, because why not?

Interestingly, it may not have just been the poor reactions to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that tanked this picture. IBTimes speculates that Garfield also rubbed his bosses the wrong way, particularly after a public event at the end of the 2014 World Cup. He was supposed to be introduced to a massive crowd as Spider-Man by then-Sony CEO Kaz Hirai, but he backed out at the last minute. The Sony email hack revealed that executives were extremely unhappy with him, and it may have cost him his role as Spider-Man.

Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 4

Sam Raimi's Spider-Man franchise helped to set the stage for modern superhero films, with the second entry still regarded as one of the better comic book films ever made. The third film crashed extremely hard, but Raimi, of course, wanted things to turn out differently — there were even rumors that he'd film a fourth and fifth film back to back in order to meet studio demands.

The director told Yahoo! Entertainment that he thinks about his planned fourth movie "all the time." He continued: "It's hard not to, because each summer another Spider-Man film comes out! So when you have an unborn one, you can't help but think what might have been."

Raimi's fourth Spider-Man movie would have seen our hero square off against Vulture (John Malkovich) and Mysterio (Bruce Campbell). Den of Geek writes that other villains were tossed around — including Electro, Lizard, and even the formation of the Sinister Six — but these two seemed the most likely candidates. There were also rumors that Black Cat would debut and turn into a villain called "The Vulturess" so she didn't seem like a ripoff of Catwoman.

The studio got cold feet after the response to Raimi's third film and decided to go a different direction. Raimi's longtime storyboard artist, Jeffrey Henderson, released some storyboards from the unmade fourth chapter and a few memories of what the duo had planned. It sounds like it could have been fun, but it's probably best that the Maguire/Raimi train came to a stop after Spider-Man 3.

Glass Ceiling

Before The Amazing Spider-Man 2 came along and mucked everything up, Sony had an entire series of Spidey-themed movies lined up, including several featuring villains, all coming together to create an entire Spider-Man cinematic universe. After The Amazing Spider-Man 2 failed to click with audiences, several ideas were tossed around about how to continue the franchise, and one such concept — called Glass Ceiling — would have featured a variety of female Spider-Man characters teaming up. These characters could include Black Cat, Silver Sable, Spider-Woman, Spider-Girl, and Silk, although nearly all the details that have publicly emerged regarding Glass Ceiling amount to little more than speculation.

It seems like the property never got far beyond the initial planning phase before the powers that be opted to go with Tom Holland's MCU Spider-Man antics. Considering what has transpired since Sony signed its unique character-sharing deal with Disney/Marvel and gone on to expand its own corner of the franchise with Venom and Morbius, it will be interesting to see how much of this planned "Spider-Man cinematic universe" — if any — could still make its way to the screen. Maybe we'll see a version of this story in Into the Spider-Verse 2.

Sinister Six

Sony has repeatedly laid the groundwork for a Sinister Six movie. Rumors about a villain-centric Spidey spinoff flew after the film was heavily hinted at during a post-credits scene in Amazing Spider-Man 2, but it was shelved after that movie underperformed. Hopes were revived after Spider-Man: Homecoming introduced Vulture as its central villain and included Shocker, Tinkerer, Prowler, and Scorpion. Mysterio entered the fray in Spider-Man: Far from Home, and Kraven the Hunter and Norman Osborn are rumored to show up in the next sequel. Producer Amy Pascal, for one, still seems very on board with the idea.

All that being said, there has been almost no real news on the villain-centric film, and Drew Goddard, who was linked to the earlier Sinister Six spinoff, has several other projects that are currently in production (including the rumored X-Force film). Maybe this Spider-Man movie hasn't been canceled yet, but it seems unlikely we'll see it in the near future — or in the iteration that has been discussed. That said, Pascal has talked about it within the context of Spider-Man's current role in the MCU, so it's still a possibility that the Sinister Six could seek revenge.


Yes, they made a Venom movie with Tom Hardy, but that wasn't the original plan. Sony was reportedly eyeing the character for his own film while Sam Raimi was still at the reins of the Spider-Man franchise — most likely the major reason the director was pushed into including the character in Spider-Man 3. If that had turned out better, we might have seen a Venom spinoff starring Topher Grace.

Sony execs thought Grace was a likable enough actor to play a sympathetic villain in his own film. Spider-Man 3's negative reception may have led to a different actor taking on the role, but it didn't slow down their plans for a Venom movie. It was rewritten several times and went through several plot and casting iterations — some involving just Venom, and some bringing in his symbiote foe Carnage. One of the frequently repeated rumors was that Jim Carrey was being discussed as Cletus Kasady.

Sony brought in Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese to put together a script, and the studio continued to push forward with the film. Ultimately, they decided to reboot the Spider-Man franchise instead, giving us The Amazing Spider-Man and shelving Wernick and Reese's Venom treatment.

David Fincher's Spider-Man

Before Sam Raimi was handed the keys to the Spider-Man film kingdom, Sony had several other directors in mind to bring the wallcrawler to the big screen. By 1999, they had narrowed their options down to four: Michael Bay, Chris Columbus, Barry Sonnenfeld, and David Fincher. They eventually approached Fincher (and did so again when they rebooted the franchise after Raimi), but he pitched himself right out of contention. Fincher himself summed it up nicely, recalling, "I was asked if I might be interested in the first Spider-Man, and I went in and told them what I might be interested in doing, and they hated it."

Fincher told io9 that he wanted the first ten minutes of the film to essentially be a "music video" showing Spider-Man's origin, including how he got his powers, the death of his uncle, and losing Mary Jane Watson. From there, Fincher said, "I wanted to start with Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin, and I wanted to kill Gwen Stacy." He wasn't interested in telling the origin story beyond that; instead, he wanted to focus more on the psychology of the character and the "idea of a teenager, the notion of this moment in time when you're so vulnerable yet completely invulnerable."

Fincher reportedly wanted Edward Norton to play the role — which might seem a bit strange, as Norton was 30 years old, but then again, Tobey Maguire was nearly 30 when he played the part.