The Canceled Movies That Never Got Made


When it comes to superheroes, Spider-Man stands alongside Superman and Batman as the most famous in the world. He is the face of Marvel Comics, the relatable ‘Everyman’ in a world filled with various other superheroes. The Spider-Man film series is filled with iconic moments, and have smashed box-office records multiple times, from the 2002 film breaking the opening weekend record to the latest film Spider-Man: No Way Home uniting the three different film versions of Spider-Man to become the sixth highest-grossing movie of all time worldwide.

The animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse even won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and two sequels are currently planned. Audiences can’t seem to get enough of Spider-Man, and Sony Pictures appears to be happy to give audiences more. Not only is Spider-Man expected to stay in the MCU, but the studio has plans to make their own cinematic universe made up of their various Spider-Man related characters in a franchise that so far includes Venom, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Morbius with Kraven the Hunter and Madame Web set for release soon.


Yet despite the character’s success, like many other different superhero franchises, the character has had a complicated behind-the-scenes history of various false starts, canceled plans, and entire franchise reworkings. A number of high-profile talent have been attached to work on Spider-Man films that never saw the light of day. All the Spider-Man movies that never happened. This is a list of the most notable and confirmed Spider-Man projects that almost happened, and the reasons why they never did.

Cannon Spider-Man Films

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Spider-Man had a few live-action attempts, in the TV movie The Amazing Spider-Man starring Nicholas Hammond (The Sound of Music) on CBS in 1977 and the Japanese Spider-Man by Toei in 1978. However, the first attempt at a feature film came in 1985 when Cannon Films optioned the rights to make a Spider-Man movie. They hired Texas Chainsaw Massacre filmmaker Tobe Hooper to direct, although Cannon Films executives Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus misunderstood the concept and thought it was more a horror story similar to The Wolfman.

The Outer Limits creator Leslie Stevens was hired to write a treatment reflecting their misconception. In Stevens’ story, a corporate scientist intentionally subjects ID-badge photographer Peter Parker to radioactive bombardment, transforming him into a hairy, suicidal, eight-armed monster.

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Stan Lee was unhappy with the changes made to his popular character and insisted on a rewrite, where the film was a retelling of Spider-Man’s origin with Doc Ock being the primary villain. While no cast was ever finalized, Tom Cruise was actually considered for the role of Spider-Man, and the film’s new director Joseph Zito wanted Bob Hoskins to play Doc Ock. The film, however, did not happen due to a combination of financial troubles from Cannon FIlms and the rights lapsing, and the project remains one of the many strange what-ifs of comic book movie adaptation.

James Cameron Spider-Man Film

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One of the most high-profile projects to never happen, director James Cameron started work on a treatment for Spider-Man while he was finishing work on True Lies. Cameron is one of the most successful and recognizable filmmakers in the world, and when he was working on Spider-Man he was just coming off the massive success of Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Cameron’s treatment told Spider-Man’s origin story and featured Electro and Sandman as the primary villains, however instead of the comic book versions, these were variations. Electro was a greedy capitalist named Carlton Strand and Sandman is named Boyd. The movie climaxed with an action scene in the World Trade Center and Peter revealing his identity to Mary Jane. The treatment was also far more adult, keeping with the director’s R-rated filmography at the time, and featured a good amount of profanity and even a sex scene between Peter and Mary Jane on top of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The film failed to happen due to contractual agreements, rights issues, and the fact that in 1996 both Marvel and the film’s planned production company Carolco Pictures went bankrupt. Cameron went on to direct Titanic, and the Spider-Man franchise would eventually go to Sony Pictures, who would hire Sam Raimi to direct the 2002 film. One element Raimi did take from Cameron’s pitch was the organic web-shooters. Also, due to the film planning to use Sandman and Electro, this is why Sandman was absent from Spider-Man: The Animated Series, replaced instead with Hydro-Man, and Electro was not introduced until the final season.

Spider-Man 4


The Spider-Man films directed by Sam Raimi starring Tobey Maguire were the gold standard of superhero films in the 2000s, and made up the most successful superhero franchise until the MCU came along. All three films were box office hits, although the critical reaction to Spider-Man 3 was not as well-received due to numerous studio notes by Sony, including forcing the director to include Venom in the film.

Raimi wanted to redeem the franchise, and Sony certainly wanted to keep their most profitable franchise going, so they set a release date of May 6, 2011, for Spider-Man 4. The movie was set to feature John Malkovich as the Vulture (a villain Raimi originally wanted to include in Spider-Man 3) and would feature Anne Hathaway as Felicia Hardy, yet instead of suiting up as Black Cat like in the comics, she would become the Vultress, as she would be the daughter of Vulture.The film also intended to open with a montage scene of Spider-Man taking down many low-level villains including Shocker, Rhino, The Prowler, and Mysterio, who would have been played by Bruce Campbell.

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Sam Raimi departed the project as he was unhappy with the scripts that had been turned in with drafts from James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) and Gary Ross (Seabiscuit). He was uncertain he would be able to make the planned release date and deliver the film creatively. Sony scrapped plans for Spider-Man 4. However, this one movie’s cancelation had major unseen ripple effects. Sony would reboot the franchise with The Amazing Spider-Man series, which performed under expectations and eventually led to the MCU Spider-Man.

Anne Hathaway would move from one cat-themed antihero to another as she was cast as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. With the May 6, 2011, release date vacant, Marvel Studios swooped in and put Thor out on that date, helping boost the MCU. Now, after all these years, Sam Raimi has returned to the world of Marvel superheroes, as he is directing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which coincidentally has a May 6 release date.

The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and 4

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Sony was so confident in their plans for The Amazing Spider-Man franchise, they announced two sequels 11 months before The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hit theaters. The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was set for release on June 19, 2016, and The Amazing Spider-Man 4 was set for May 4, 2018. While no official plans for the films were revealed, Dennis Leary did reveal he was set to return as Captain Stacey, and a rumored storyline involved Peter bringing back his loved ones from the dead with an experimental serum.

After the box office disappointment of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, both films were shelved in favor of focusing on Sinister Six. There were reports however that Sony was still keen on making this concept work, at one point considering making the third Andrew Garfield film set between the events of The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that would have allowed them to bring Emma Stone back as Gwen Stacey, and would see Spider-Man fight Kraven the Hunter and Chris Cooper as the Green Goblin, similar to his Ultimate Comics counterpart, setting up what audiences see in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The project was scrapped though after it was announced the character would be rebooted in the MCU.

Unmade Venom Films

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While Venom finally did get a feature film in 2018 and a sequel in 2021, the road to the symbiote character was a long one that went through various incarnations in various different Spider-Man franchises. The original plan was to be a spin-off of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, although Topher Grace was not expected to reprise his role. Future Hunger Games director Gary Ross, who had been hired by Sony to rewrite scripts for Spider-Man 4, was brought on to write and direct the film, but it fell through in favor of trying to tie the film with The Amazing Spider-Man series.

In December 2013, five months before The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opened in theaters, Sony announced they were working on a Venom spin-off film to connect to the franchise. Star Trek and Transformers screenwriter Alex Kurtzman was hired to direct Venom and the plan was for it to be released between The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 4. The film was titled Venom Carnage, but the project would be stalled once again when Sony rebooted Spider-Man again, this time in the MCU. The Venom project was reworked to be a stand-alone film and became the 2018 film.

Sinister Six

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Sinister Six was Sony’s big plans for their Amazing Spider-Man franchise, making The Avengers in reverse where a group of villains would team up to fight a single hero. Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard was set to write and direct the film. The team was teased in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and after that film underperformed at the box office, Sony bumped up Sinister Six to be the next film in the franchise, setting a November 11, 2016, release date.

The film reportedly never settled on a final roster, with candidates including Harry Osborn’s Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Vulture, Rhino, Mysterio, Black Cat, Scorpia, Sandman, and Kraven the Hunter all considered at various points. There were even plans that Spider-Man would be forced to join the team in an uneasy alliance, similar to the event comic Ultimate Six. The movie was pitched as a redemption story for the villains, and rumors also circulated that Norman Osborn would return as the Green Goblin, and that the film would feature the Savage Lands. The film never materialized and was scrapped when Sony rebooted Spider-Man in the MCU, but much like Venom, it appears the studio has not given up on the concept.

A form of The Sinister Six appears in Spider-Man: No Way Home, with the three Spider-Man fighting villains from other universes (Venom also is transported, making him the unofficial sixth member). The after-credit moment of Morbius seems to indicate that Sony is still interested in doing some version of the Sinister Six, but the project remains unclear.

Silver & Black

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Sony appears to have had quite a bit of interest in Black Cat, as she was originally considered for Spider-Man 2, before being one of the primary characters in Sam Raimi’s canceled Spider-Man 4. She finally made her big-screen appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with Felicity Jones playing Felicia Hardy, clearly setting up a major role for the character. However, the plans for that franchise were scrapped, but Sony Pictures was still interested in getting a female-led superhero project off the ground.

In 2017, Thor: The Dark World screenwriter Christopher Yost was hired to pen the script for a team-up film between Black Cat and the character Silver Sable, titled Silver & Black. The film was set to be part of Sony’s universe consisting of the announced Venom and Morbius film. Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball) quickly signed on to direct the film, and the studio set February 8, 2019, release date. Spider-Man’s villains Chameleon, Tombstone, and Tarantula were considered for the film and the movie was described as being similar to Thelma and Louise.

The film was removed from the release schedule as Prince-Bythewood wanted to rework the script and eventually moved on to direct the pilot for another Marvel-related project, Cloak & Dagger for Freeform, and eventually The Old Guard. Sony then scrapped plans for Silver & Black, instead deciding to split the two characters into their own films. The last word on the project was that Sony is considering turning the characters into a miniseries, similar to what they have planned for the character Silk.

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