Spider-Man Film History 101

The Amazing Spider-Man - Columbia Pictures (2012)
One of the things I wanted to do when I began this site was to write or curate articles dealing with the long history of superheroes in cinema. While my output of original material has been...ahem, less than prolific, there are a lot of talented people out there who have done some great work recently.

Case in point, io9 posted a well-researched article by Charlie Jane Anders that summarizes nearly thirty years of ill-fated attempts at bringing Spider-Man to the big screen. Some of the knowledge that Anders drops in this piece might stump the most die-hard movie fan. I was surprised at how little I knew about Spidey's Hollywood history.

Poster for the never-made Cannon Spider-Man movie (1990)
For example, did you know that the very first attempt at making a Spider-Man live-action movie was in 1976 and would've included a 100 foot tall robot, Nazis, and the death of Gwen Stacy? No? Not surprising since it never made it to the production stage. Sounds like it would of been pretty cool, though.

How about this one? Bet you didn't know that Roger Corman, producer of B movie "classics" like It Conquered the World and Little Shop of Horrors, came close to making his Spidey movie in 1982. Had it been made, it would've been based on a screenplay by Spidey co-creator, Stan Lee.

Of all the failed attempts at a Spidey flick, the James Cameron version is the one that probably would've been the coolest. He actually wrote a script in 1993 that strayed quite a bit from the comic book (including the first use of organic webshooters), but unfortunately, the movie rights to Spidey got tangled up in a long court battle, and the movie was scrapped.

Pre-production image from James Cameron's ill-fated Spider-Man movie (1993)
Of course, Spidey finally got his blockbuster movie in 2001 thanks to Columbia Pictures and director Sam Raimi, but it was a long, strange trip to get there.  It's hard to believe that it took so long. Just think of all the terrible action movies, featuring lame characters, that were made during the time people were trying to make a Spider-Man film. Fortunately, now we have the 2012 franchise reboot, starring Andrew Garfield, to look forward to, and from the early trailers, it looks fantastic.  Meanwhile, if you want to catch up on your Spidey-on-film facts, click on the link at the bottom of this article.

While some of the info in the io9 article might be known to long-time Spidey fans (such as James Cameron's screenplay from the early '90s) some of the facts are pretty obscure. If you want to learn the complete history of superheroes in the movies, here are the three books Anders references in his article -
 Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book  by Jordan Raphael and Tom Spurgeon  

Superman vs. Hollywood: How Fiendish Producers, Devious Directors, and Warring Writers Grounded an American Icon (Cappella Books) by Jake Rossen

 Comic Book Heroes of the Screen  by William Schoell.

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  1. Matt, you blog is incredible! You absolutely chose a niche and you've kept to it unfailingly. Your articles are high quality and news, views, and reporting are just as important as longer, in depth articles. Don't be down on your original output now!

  2. Thanks very much Mandy! I'll take your words to heart and press on.


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