Spider-Man: James Cameron envisioned a much darker film

In a book to be published on December 14 in the United States, “Tech Noir: The Art of James Cameron”, the filmmaker returns a little to the abortive idea of ​​his project to adapt Spider-Man to the screen, wanting hollow out a realistic and very dark vein.

Columbia TriStar Films

Let it be said: the Hollywood cemetery is littered with film projects that have sunk into the abyss of Development Hell, or simply went by the wayside, for various reasons. Thanks to the burning news of Spider-Man: no Way Home, which is flooding all channels now, the long-cherished former project of James Cameron, who wanted to adapt the (mis) adventures of Spider-Man to the screen , resurfaced. A film that he also wanted to make after his colossal Terminator 2 venture.

In a (superb) book due out on December 14 in the United States, entitled Tech Noir: The Art of James Cameron (and prefaced by Guillermo del Toro), a block of 400 pages and 3kg on the scale, the filmmaker confides precisely on this adaptation which has not seen the light of day. He talks about it like “the greatest movie he’s ever made” raises the site ScreenCrush. After getting Stan Lee’s blessing, Cameron plunged into an adaptation, wanting to develop a dark tone.

“I wanted to do something that had some kind of cruel reality” Cameron said. “Superheroes in general have always come across as a bit of a fantasy to me, and I wanted to do something that would have been more in the vein of Terminator and Aliens, so that you can embrace reality right away. So you are. in a real world you’re not in an imaginary city like Gotham City. Or Superman and the Daily Planet and all that stuff, where it always seemed very metaphorical and fairy. “

Cameron wanted to plant his frame in New York. A period “where it’s snowing. The guy gets bitten by a spider. He turns into this kid with these powers and he has this fantasy of being Spider-Man; he makes this costume and has to improve it, because he has big problems with it. Things like that. I wanted to anchor it in reality and anchor it in the universal human experience. I think that would have been a fun movie to make. “


An article from LA Times, dated 2002, came back to this aborted project, explaining that this Spider-Man reviewed and corrected by Cameron would have been “morally ambiguous, and even capable of sadistic violence”. Mary Jane’s father was seen “like a drunkard and abusive”. In addition to this dark path, Cameron also wanted to focus more on the adolescence of Peter Parker.

“The first thing you have to think about is that it’s not Spider-Man.” Cameron writes in his book. “His name is Spider-Man, but he’s not Spider-Man. He’s Spider-Kid. He’s Spider-High-School-Kid. He’s a bit of a geek and nobody notices him, and he’s socially unpopular. […] And it was also in my mind a metaphor for puberty and all the changes in your body, your anxieties about society, society’s expectations, your relationships with whatever genre you choose that attracts you, all of those things. things”.

Don’t go into a trench war

The burning question of course is why couldn’t the movie get made? Cameron tried to convince Carolco, the company that produced his film Terminator 2, to acquire the rights. But the company went into resounding bankruptcy, sunk after the shipwreck of Pirate Island, before even considering buying them.

The filmmaker then turned to Fox, in vain there too. “I tried to get Fox to buy the rights, but apparently it was complicated. Sony had a very questionable attachment to the rights, and Fox didn’t feel like getting into a standoff. [L’ancien président de la Fox] Peter Chernin did not want to fight. He didn’t want to get into a legal fight. And I was like, “Are you kidding? This license could be worth, I don’t know, a billion dollars!”

A failure for James Cameron, who draws a certain lesson from this experience: “I think Spider-Man was probably the kick in the ass I needed to do my own stuff.” Still, Jimmy got it right: the Spider-Man franchise grossed more than $ 10 billion for Sony, and the cash machine is not about to stop spinning, especially with the next theatrical installment, which should be, except industrial disaster, a big success …

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