Hot property in the 1990s following the considerable success of Titanic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, James Cameron was at the top of every production house’s hit-list to help them replicate similar box-office dynamite. Just one of these projects was Sony’s Spider-Man, eventually directed by Sam Raimi, for which James Cameron had written a large script treatment.
Far darker than the eventual superhero blockbuster, Cameron’s vision for the web-slingers debut on the silver screen saw heavy use of profanity and bloody violence. In the director’s brand new book, Tech Noir: The Art Of James Cameron, the Avatar filmmaker calls the project, “The greatest movie I never made”.
Starring rather different takes on iconic villains such as Electro and Sandman, Cameron had imagined Electro as a manic businessman whilst Sandman was his fantastical bodyguard. Speaking about the unmade project in a roundtable interview dissected by ScreenCrush, Cameron noted, “The first thing you’ve got to get your mind around is, it’s not Spider-Man. He goes by Spider-Man, but he’s not Spider-Man”.
Discussing his want to give Spider-Man a grittier feel, Cameron said: “Superheroes in general always came off as kind of fanciful to me, and I wanted to do something that would have been more in the vein of Terminator and Aliens, that you buy into the reality right away”. This was certainly the case for the superhero script that even featured a sex scene between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson on top of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Comparing the friendly neighbourhood web-slinger to the other superheroes of DC comics, the filmmaker concluded by stating: “So you’re in a real world, you’re not in some mythical Gotham City or Superman and the Daily Planet and all that sort of thing, where it always felt very kind of metaphorical and fairytale-like”.