Screenwriter David Koepp reveals a scene from James Cameron’s early scripts for his unmade Spider-Man film, which highlights Peter’s adolescence.
Avatar director James Cameron had a risk spider-man scene in his original script treatment. Before Sam Raimi came onboard to direct the first live-action spider-manCameron was well into the development process, having written what he called a “script” for the film, complete with storyboards. The film was set to feature both Electro and Sandman as the villains and would focus on spider-man well into his career as a superhero, with Leonardo DiCaprio eyed to play the web-slinger. However, a series of legal issues with the rights caused the film to be scrapped, with spider-man ending up in the hands of Sony.
eventually, spider-man was made by Raimi in 2002, who cast Tobey Maguire as the lead. Raimi would direct two more spider-man films after that, while Cameron moved on to other projects, including titanica and Avatar, both of which went on to become box office behemoths. in the first spider-man film, Raimi and screenwriter David Koepp explored the origins of Peter Parker and his transition into Spider-Man, including the physical changes that his body went through in the process after being bitten by a radioactive spider, which felt more than a little metaphorical of teenage adolescence.
In a new retrospective piece at VarietyKoepp, Raimi, and producers Amy Pascal and Avi Arad all discussed the journey of spider-man to the big screen, including Cameron’s early attempt to get it done. Koepp mentions the 80-page “scriptment” that Cameron wrote and how it was attached to the film rights when they went to Sony. Koepp noted that the spider-man script leaned heavily into the metaphorical aspects of “sexual development” in the film, with a scene included that had Peter Parker waking up with web strands all over himself. However funny it was in the scriptment, however, Koepp says it slow a sense of legitimacy to the property that hadn’t been seen before, and believes it had a positive influence on superhero movies. Read what Koepp had to say below:
“[Cameron] pushed the metaphor of adolescent sexual development really far. There’s a great moment where Peter wakes up in bed with web strands all over himself. It was like, wow, I don’t know if we can do the wet dream thing, but that was pretty funny. Even just the fact that Cameron had taken it seriously was a big deal. It legitimized it in people’s minds — not least of all, probably, Sony.”
In the time since Raimi and Maguire’s spider-man films, the issue of Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man while dealing with everyday teenage issues has been at the forefront of subsequent reboots. Andrew Garfield’s The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 explored his developmental issues as a standard teenager with a crush on Gwen Stacy and physical changes, just as Tom Holland’s MCU spider-man saga also delved into his coming-of-age journey not only as a superhero, but as a teenager trying to be “normal” and fit in with his peers; a common struggle for most adolescents.
Cameron has never shied away from portraying some of the more in-depth and uncomfortable aspects of growing up in his films. titanicain particular, seems to have gleaned a bit of the teenage rebellion, angst, and sexual exploration that may well have ended up in his spider-man had it happened. Even Cameron’s Avatar series has dabbled in the process of “becoming” and “acceptance” as a physical transformation takes place. While seeing Spider-Man have a “web dream” on the big screen may not ever have ultimately happened, it shows that more complex (and often funny) moments being worked into a superhero script before they became mainstream likely helped pave the way for them to be taken seriously, rather than simple fodder. Cameron will once again be exploring the coming-of-age genre with Avatar: The Way of Water when it releases in December, perhaps bringing some of his original spider-man ideas into the mix.
Next: Every Unmade James Cameron Movie (& Why They Didn’t Happen)
- Avatar 2 (2022)Release date: Dec 16, 2022
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