In the mid-1990s, sometime between Terminator 2 and Titanic, iconic director James Cameron was toying with the idea of making a Spider-Man film, but didn’t due to not getting the rights from Fox Studios. What would that movie have looked like? Well, Cameron has the answer for you: like a pretty basic Spider-Man movie.
While promoting his new book, Tech Noir: The Art of James Cameron, with ScreenCrush, Cameron gave a rough outline of what he imagined for the superhero movie that never saw the light of day. Cameron detailed a regular kid, not very popular, getting bit by a spider, developing weird superpowers, and creating their own terrible suit that they improve upon throughout the film. Sound familiar?
Well, that’s because the same old scenes have been in almost every Spider-Man movie ever, whether it be Sam Raimi’s original 2002 film with Tobey Maguire or 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield. Both films show their version of Peter Parker studying the art of costume design and hand-crafting their respective suits. Although we don’t see Tom Holland’s Parker actually create his original suit, we do see him get an awesome upgrade from Tony Stark, as well as designing an amalgamation of all versions of his suits in 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. To emphasize this point further, even Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse starts his Spidey-career with a hastily made mask before upping his game to a real suit by the end of the film.
Cameron also emphasized how his iteration of Spider-Man would really struggle with unpopularity and how his superpowers would be a metaphor for puberty or something more, such as “that untapped reservoir of potential that people have that they don’t recognize in themselves.” Hmm…kind of sounds like “with great power comes great responsibility,” doesn’t it? As for being unpopular, every iteration of Spider-Man has started as an uncool, nerdy kid who doesn’t get the girl until the third act, whether it be Mary-Jane Watson or Gwen Stacy.
Overall, would it have been interesting to see Cameron’s vision of Spider-Man on the big screen, maybe played by a young Leonardo DiCaprio? Of course. However, in the end, I think Cameron’s overarching story and themes still play into the same one every Spider-Man film has incorporated in some way, shape, or form.