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Spider-Man: The Movie was a planned but ultimately unproduced movie based on the Marvel Comics superhero. Spider-Man: The Movie would have been released in the early 90's and was going to be directed by James Cameron.

Synopsis

James Camereron's Spider-Man script has been leaked online. Below is a synopsis of the script.

The movie begins with Peter Parker in the restroom of his high school and he is popping a zit on his face. Peter then runs to his science class where you are itroduced to Mary Jane Watson and her boyfriend Flash Thompson. One day peter and his class go a field trip to a laboratory. This laboratory makes mutagenically enhanced flies and there are fifteen of them. However, one of the flies escapes and a regular spider catches it in it's web and eats. The mutation in the fly is then passed on to the spider. While Peter takes pictures of Mary Jane for the school paper the spider crawls onto his hand and bites him. Peter freaks out and when he goes home the spider venom plunges him into a psychotropic state and sees disturbing images of spider webs. Peter Parker then passes out.

Hours later Peter wakes up in his underwear and is hanging upside down from a flag pole. Peter then runs back home and sneaks into his house. As Peter looks at his arms he sees grotesque spinnerets growing out of his wrists and discovers that they can shoot spider webbing. However, Peter creates "web shooters" to wear on his wrist and hide the spinnerets. Peter Parker then creates a costume and starts appearing on late night talk shows calling himself Spider-Man. 

One day at school Peter and Mary Jane are assigned by their chimestry teacher to be partners. While talking about what their project will be about Peter decides that he wants to know more about where his powers come from and he asks his teacher if they can do the report on spiders. Mary Jane is grossed out by this idea. When Peter and Mary Jane start working on their project Mary Jane becomes attracted to Peter because of Peter's personality.

Later on that night Uncle Ben drops Peter off at the library. However, Peter goes on tv and preforms as Spider-Man. After the show Spider-Man sees a burglar stealing the nights profits but lets him escape. Upon returning home Peter sees police cars in front of Aunt May and Uncle Ben's house. Peter then sees Uncle Ben lying on the ground and he runs up to him. Uncle Ben then dies right before Peter's eyes. As Spider-Man, Peter tracks the burglar to a warehouse and beats him up. He then finds out that the burgular is the same person he let escape at the tv studio. Spider-Man wants to kill him but knows that his Uncle Ben would not want that. So Spider-Man webbs up the burgular and leaves him for the police.

Peter then decides to use his powers for good and starts to catch criminals as Spider-Man. However, J. Jonah Jameson (who in this script is a tv executive) starts a smear campaign against Spider-Man.

You are then introduced to a wealthy business man named Carlton Strand. While running away from the police Strand runs by a modern art exhibit made out of metal. When Strand runs by the exhibit is struck by lightning and then travels into Strand's body. Strand later discovers that he has the power to control electricity. Strand also learns that because of these powers he can not touch anybody or else they will die from electrocution. As his beautiful assistant, Cordelia, shows up. Cordelia then takes off her clothes revealing that she is wearing a wetsuit because that is the only way they can have sex without her dying. However, Strand tells her to take the wetsuit off. Strand then kisses Cordelia really hard which sends electricity through her body and kills her. Strand then uses his powers to defibrillate back to life.

Strand then begins to use his powers to manipulate computers at banks to transfer money into his own account. Strand then starts hunting for more people with super powers and abducting them. One of which is a man named Boyde who can turn his body into and control sand. Boyde then becomes Strand's enforcer. Boyde later shows up to one of Spider-Man's TV appearances and roughs Spider-Man up a little bit. As Spider-Man punches Boyde his hand goes right through him and Spider-Man learns that he is made out of sand. However, Boyde fails to kill Spider-Man.

Spider-Man then defeats some drug dealers and takes their money and gives it to a deserving family. Mary Jane is then mugged but saved by Spider-Man. Spider-Man and Mary Jane then swing web swing across Manhattan and then takes her to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge. Spider-Man then lifts up his mask and kisses her. Spider-Man then webbs up Mary Jane and the two of them have sex. The next day at school Mary Jane is really perky and also breaks up with Flash.

Strand then uses his media connections to force J. Jonah Jameson to launch an even bigger smear campaign against Spider-Man. The police then begin to hunt Spider-Man. Strand's plan is to back Spider-Man into a corner and force Spider-Man to join forces with him. Strand also has Spider-Man followed and learns of Spider-Man's relationship with Mary Jane. Strand then kidnaps her to use her as bait for Spider-Man.

When Spider-Man tracks Mary Jane to Strand's business Strand threatens to kill Mary Jane by electrocuting her. Boyde appears and grabs Spider-Man with a big hand made out of sand. Strand then starts to give Mary Jane little zaps of electricity all over her body. Spider-Man yells at Strand and Boyde "I'll kill you motherfuckers! You goddamn bastards!" Spider-Man then breaks free from Boyde which causes Boyde to explode. Boyde then reforms and as Strand fires a blast of electricity at Spider-Man. As Spider-Man he jumps out of the way and the electricity hits Boyde turning him into glass which kills him. Spider-Man and Strand start to fight and their fight eventually leads to the top of the World Trade Center. During their battle Strand falls over the side of the World Trade Center but Spider-Man catches him with his web. Strand then hits the side of the building. Spider-Man then pulls Strand up and takes off his mask. Strand asks if he is a senior in high school and Peter answers that he graduates next week. Strand then starts to chuckle weakly and coughs up blood and then dies. Spider-Man then dumps $200 million (in cash) of Strand's money into the streets of New York.

Sometime later Peter Parker and Mary Jane graduate from high school and start dating. Peter also beats up Flash. Peter then kisses Mary Jane in the hall way of school and realizes that he is Spider-Man (from the kiss they had earlier while they had sex). It is then revealed that Peter and Mary Jane go to different colleges and Mary Jane is going for her medical degree. However, they are able to have a long distance relationship.

Cast

The following actors were cast by James Cameron to star in the movie before it was cancelled.

Actor Role
Leonardo DiCaprio Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Maggie Smith May Parker
R. Lee Ermey J. Jonah Jameson
Lance Henriksen Carlton Strand
Robyn Lively Mary Jane Watson
Michael Biehn Boyd

Development

Cannon Films

The low box office performance of 1983's Superman III made feature-film adaptations of comic book properties a very low priority in Hollywood until the 1990's. In 1985, after a brief option on Spider-Man by Roger Corman expired, Marvel Comics optioned the property to Cannon Films. Cannon chiefs Menahem Golan and his cousin Yoram Globus agreed to pay Marvel Comics $225,000 over the five-year option period, plus a percentage of any film's revenues. However, the rights would revert to Marvel if a film was not made by April 1990.

Tobe Hooper, then preparing both Invaders From Mars and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, was mooted as director. Golan and Globus misunderstood the concept of the character ("They thought it was like The Wolf Man", said director Joseph Zito) and instructed writer Leslie Stevens, creator of The Outer Limits, to write a treatment reflecting their misconceptions. In Stevens' story, a corporate scientist initially subjects ID-badge photographer Peter Parker to radioactive bombardment, transforming him into a hairy, suicidal, eight-armed monster. This human tarantula refuses to join the scientist's new master-race of mutants, battling a succession of mutants kept in a basement laboratory.

Unhappy with this perceived debasement of his comic book creation, Marvel's Stan Lee pushed for a new story and screenplay, written for Cannon by Ted Newsom and John Brancato. The variation on the origin story had Otto Octavius as a teacher and mentor to a college-aged Peter Parker. The cyclotron accident which "creates" Spider-Man also deforms the scientist into Doctor Octopus and results in his mad pursuit of proof of the Fifth Force. "Doc Ock" reconstructs his cyclotron and causes electromagnetic abnormalities, anti-gravity effects, and biocation which threatens to engulf New York City and the world. Joseph Zito, who had directed Cannon's successful Chuck Norris film Invasion USA, replaced Tobe Hooper. The new director hired Barney Cohen to rewrite the script. Cohen, creator of TV's Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Forever Knight, added action scenes, a non-canonical comic for the villain, gave Doc Ock the catch phrase, "Okey-dokey", and altered his goal from the Fifth Force to a quest for anti-gravity. Producer Golan (using his pen name "Joseph Goldman") then made a minor polish to Cohen's rewrite. Zito scouted locations and studio facilities in both the U.S. and Europe, and oversaw storyboard breakdowns supervised by Harper Goff. Cannon planned to make the film on the then-substantial budget of between $15 and $20 million.

While no casting was finalized, Zito expressed interest in actor/stunt man Scott Leva, who had posed for Cannon's promotional photos and ads, and made public appearances as Spider-Man for Marvel. The up-and-coming actor Tom Cruise was also discussed for the leading role. Zito considered Bob Hoskins as Doc Ock. Lee expressed his desire to play Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson. Lauren Bacall and Katharine Hepburn were considered for Aunt May, Peter Cushing as a sympathetic scientist, and Adolph Caesar as a police detective. With Cannon finances siphoned by the expensive Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Masters of the Universe, the company slashed the proposed Spider-Man budget to under $10 million. Director Zito opted out, unwilling to make a compromised Spider-Man. The company commissioned low-budget rewrites from writers Shepard Goldman, Don Michael Paul, and penciled in company workhorse Albert Pyun as director, who also made script alterations.

Scott Leva was still associated with the character through Marvel (he had appeared in photo covers of the comic), and read each draft. Leva commented, "Ted Newsom and John Brancato had written the script. It was good but it needed a little work. Unfortunately, with every subsequent rewrite by other writers, it went from good to bad to terrible." Due to Cannon's assorted financial crises, the project shut down after spending about $1.5 million on the project. In 1989, Pathé, owned by corrupt Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti, acquired the overextended Cannon. The filmmaking cousins parted, Globus remained associated with Pathé, Golan leaving to run 21st Century Film Corporation, keeping a number of properties (including Spider-Man) in lieu of a cash buy-out. He also extended his Spider-Man option with Marvel up to January 1992.

Golan shelved the low-budget rewrites and attempted to finance an independent production from the original big-budget script, already budgeted, storyboarded and laid out. At Cannes in May 1989, 21st Century announced a September start date, with ad touting the script by "Barney Cohen, Ted Newsom & John Brancato and Joseph Goldman." As standard practice, Golan pre-sold the unmade film to raise production funds, with television rights bought by Viacom and home video rights by Columbia Pictures, which wanted to establish a studio franchise. Stephen Herek was attached as director at this point. Golan submitted this "new" screenplay to Columbia in late 1989 (actually the 1985 script with an adjusted "1989" date) and the studio requested yet another rewrite. Golan hired Frank LaLoggia, who turned in his draft but grew disenchanted with 21st Century. Neil Ruttenberg was hired for one more draft, which also "covered" by script readers at Columbia. Columbia's script analysts considered all three submissions "essentially the same story." A tentative production deal was set. Said Stan Lee in 1990, "21st Century [is] supposed to do Spider-Man and now they're talking to Columbia and the way it looks now, Columbia may end up bying Spider-Man from 21st Century."

Carolco Pictures

21st Century's Menahem Golan still actively immersed himself mounting "his" Spider-Man, sending the original "Doc Ock" script for production bids. In 1990, he contacted Canadian effects company Light and Motion Corporation regarding the visual effects, which in turn offered the stop-motion chores to Steven Archer (Krull, Clash of the Titans).

Toward the end of shooting True Lies, Variety carried the announcement that Carolco Pictures had received a completed screenplay from James Cameron. This script bore the names of James Cameron, John Brancato, Ted Newsom, Barry [sic] Cohen and "Joseph Goldmari", a typographical scrambling of Golan's pen name ("Joseph Goldman") with Marvel executive Joseph Calamari. The script text was identical to the one Golan submitted to Columbia the previous year, with the addition of a new 1993 date. Cameron stalwart Arnold Schwarzenegger was frequently linked to the project as the director's choice for Doctor Octopus.

James Cameron "scriptment"

Month's later James Cameron submitted an undated 57-page "scriptment" with an alternate story (the copyright registration was dated 1991), part screenplay, part narrative story outline. The "scriptment" told the Spider-Man origin, but used variations on the comic book characters Electro and Sandman as villains. This "Electro" (named Carlton Strand, instead of Max Dillon) was a megalomaniacal parody of corrupt capitalists. Instead of Flint Marko's character, Cameron's "Sandman" (simply named Boyd) is mutated by an accident involving Philadelphia Experiment-style bilocation and atom-mixing, in lieu of getting caught in a nuclear blast on a beach. The story climaxes with a battle atop the World Trade Center and had Peter Parker revealing his identity to Mary Jane Watson. In addition, the treatment was also heavy on profanity, and had Spider-Man and Mary Jane having sex on the Brooklyn Bridge.

This treatment reflected elements in previous scripts: from the Stevens treatment, organic organic web-shooters, and a villain who tempts Spider-Man to join a coming "master race" of mutants; from the original screenplay and rewrite, weird electrical storms causing blackouts freak magnetic events and bi-location; from the Ethan Wiley draft, a villain addicted to toxic super-powers and multiple experimental spiders, one of which escapes and bites Peter, causing a hallucinatory nightmare invoking Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis; from the Frank LaLoggia script, a blizzard of stolen cash fluttering down onto surprised New Yorkers; and from the Neil Ruttenberg screenplay, a criminal assault on the NYC Stock Exchange. In 1991, Carolco Pictures extended Golan's option agreement with Marvel through May 1996, but in April 1992, Carolco ceased active production on Spider-Man due to continued financial and legal problems.

Litigation

When James Cameron agreed to make Spider-Man, Carolco lawyers simply used his previous Terminator 2 contract as a template. A clause in this agreement gave Cameron the right to decide on movie and advertising credits. Show business trade articles and advertisements made no mention of Golan, who was still actively assembling the elements for the film. In 1993, Golan complained publicly and finally instigated legal action against Carolco for disavowing his contractual guarantee credit as producer. On the other hand, Cameron had the contractual right to decide on credits. Eventually, Carolco sued Viacom and Columbia to recover broadcast and home video rights, and the two studios countersued. 20th Century Fox, though not part of the litigation, contested Cameron's participation, claiming exclusivity on his services as a director under yet another contract. In 1996, Carolco, 21st Century, and Marvel went bankrupt.

Via a quitclaim from Carolco dated March 28, 1995, MGM acquired 21st Century's film library and assets, and received "...all rights in and to all drafts and versions of the screenplay(s) for Spider-Man written by James Cameron, Ted Newsom & John Brancato, Menahem Golan, Jon [sic] Michael Paul, Ethan Wiley, Leslie Stevens, Frank Laloggia, Neil Ruttenberg, Barney Cohen, Shepard Goldman and any and all other writers. MGM also sued 21st Century, Viacom, and Marvel Comics, alleging fraud in the original deal between Cannon and Marvel. In 1998, Marvel emerged from bankruptcy with a reorganized plan that merged the company with Toy Biz. The courts determined that the original contract of Marvel's rights to Golan had expired, returning the rights to Marvel, but the matter was still not completely resolved. In 1999, Marvel licensed Spider-Man rights to Columbia, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment. MGM disputed the legality, claiming it had the Spider-Man rights via Cannon, 21st Century, and Carolco.

Trivia

  • Spider-Man would have been rated R because of it's strong language, violence, and graphic sex scene between Spider-Man and Mary Jane.
  • Carlton Strand was very loosely based on Electro but he never wears the Electro costume and is only called by his real name in the script.
  • Sandman's name was changed from Flint Marko to Boyde. Like Strand, Boyde is never called Sandman.
  • Sandman's origin is never explored in the script.
  • Because James Cameron was planning on using Electro and Sandman in this movie these two villains were not allowed to appear in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
  • After Cameron's Spider-Man movie fell through John Semper Jr. did get to use Electro toward the end of the series but ran out of time before he could introduce Sandman.
  • Christopher Daniel Barnes expressed interest in playing Spider-Man in this film. Barnes even said "I've fought Venom so many times, I would hate to see somebody else get the chance!"

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