• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

Spider-Man was the ‘greatest movie’ James Cameron never made

Few directors dominated the 1990s like James Cameron. After a blockbuster decade in the 1980s, collaborations with Arnold Schwarzenegger on Terminator 2 and True Lies cemented his status as a bankable action director of the ’90s. Then the unprecedented success of Titanic sent him through the stratosphere. But there was one property that remained out of his grasp: Spider-Man.

In a Zoom roundtable with ScreenCrush and others promoting his new book, Tech Noir: The Art of James Cameron, Cameron discussed what he calls in Tech Noir “the greatest movie I never made.”


Traces of Cameron’s Spider-Man exist all over the place. A Variety article from 1993 says Cameron had turned in a script, and an anonymous agent crows that it is “going to be as big as the Batman movie,” referencing the Tim Burton franchise. In 2015, Leonardo DiCaprio told Empire that he “had a couple of chats” with Cameron about taking on the webslinger, and felt that Cameron was at least “semi-serious” about the idea.

While DiCaprio did not seem to mourn the lost opportunity to play Peter Parker, saying he wasn’t sure “anything would have changed” in his career if the movie had come to fruition, Cameron was eager to point out that his version of the character would have been very different than modern iterations.

“I wanted to make something that had a kind of gritty reality to it,” Cameron said on Zoom. “Superheroes in general always came off as kind of fanciful to me, and I wanted to do something that would have been more in the vein of Terminator and Aliens, that you buy into the reality right away. So you’re in a real world, you’re not in some mythical Gotham City. Or Superman and the Daily Planet and all that sort of thing, where it always felt very kind of metaphorical and fairytale-like.

“I wanted it to be: It’s New York. It’s now. A guy gets bitten by a spider. He turns into this kid with these powers and he has this fantasy of being Spider-Man, and he makes this suit and it’s terrible, and then he has to improve the suit, and his big problem is the damn suit. Things like that. I wanted to ground it in reality and ground it in universal human experience.”

But in many ways, Cameron was seeing the same things that would later appeal to Sam Raimi. This includes both making Parker’s web-shooting a biological function as well as the character representing “that untapped reservoir of potential that people have that they don’t recognize in themselves.”

In 2000, IGN offered an overview of Cameron’s script. Many parts of it feel similar: Peter Parker, an awkward high schooler who lives with Aunt May and Uncle Ben, has a crush on Mary Jane Watson. Uncle Ben is killed by a robber, but that’s where the story starts to diverge. The police take Spider-Man into custody for Uncle Ben’s murder, who then busts out. A local TV reporter, J. Jonah Jameson (there’s no Daily Bugle), starts to declare that Spider-Man is a menace.

With references to Franz Kafka’s classic novella The Metamorphosis, Cameron’s story becomes about Electro and Sandman trying to recruit Parker into a criminal organization for super-powered villains. Parker resists, sleeps with MJ, curses up a storm, and eventually defeats the two on top of the World Trade Center. The ’90s!

 
Last edited:

Pagusas

Elden Member
Didn’t this have Arnold as doc ock?


What could have been.,..

 
Last edited:

Doom85

Member
He did. Spider-Man discovers his web shooters when he has a wet dream about MJ. Really.

surprise wtf GIF


Err, yeah look I respect James Cameron, but I would not want this as Spidey’s first big screen appearance. Raimi kept it to the classic era for the most part, and the later continuities got to mix things up more which is fine.

This would be like if Tim Burton’s Superman had happened but was also the first big screen appearance of Supes. Despite having some issues with a few of the changes he made to Batman, I actually liked what he had had planned for Supes (yes, everyone mocks the idea of Nicholas Cage playing him, but give the documentary on the cancelled film a watch, IMHO they had some cool ideas and it could have worked), but only because we already had a more faithful adaptation with the original first two films with Christopher Reeve, so I wouldn’t mind a new film that took things in a unconventional direction.
 

ManaByte

Gold Member
surprise wtf GIF


Err, yeah look I respect James Cameron, but I would not want this as Spidey’s first big screen appearance. Raimi kept it to the classic era for the most part, and the later continuities got to mix things up more which is fine.

This would be like if Tim Burton’s Superman had happened but was also the first big screen appearance of Supes. Despite having some issues with a few of the changes he made to Batman, I actually liked what he had had planned for Supes (yes, everyone mocks the idea of Nicholas Cage playing him, but give the documentary on the cancelled film a watch, IMHO they had some cool ideas and it could have worked), but only because we already had a more faithful adaptation with the original first two films with Christopher Reeve, so I wouldn’t mind a new film that took things in a unconventional direction.
Burton's Superman would be fine if you took out the crazy shit Peters made Kevin Smith add to the script. Without that stuff, it's a great Death and Return of Superman movie.
 

Rest

All these years later I still chuckle at what a fucking moron that guy is.
90's di Caprio was total trash. Movie would have sucked with him as Spider-Man.
 

tygertrip

Member
Burton's Superman would be fine if you took out the crazy shit Peters made Kevin Smith add to the script. Without that stuff, it's a great Death and Return of Superman movie.
Peters insists that Smith is exaggerating, and even flat-out lying about some aspects. Given Smith has been caught lying before, I tend to believe Peters. But I don’t care, it made for a funny story!
 

EverydayBeast

thinks Halo Infinite is a new graphical benchmark
Avatar is James Cameron's future, as powerful as Spider-Man is it's also a lot of other developers "great movie" they've never made.
 

Ionian

Member
Avatar is James Cameron's future, as powerful as Spider-Man is it's also a lot of other developers "great movie" they've never made.

I'd say he eats fresh Cod and prawns daily. And has fish-fingers. Christ the dude is so rich off making that junk film. More power to him but I thought it sucked. It was trite and boring.
 
Last edited:

Rest

All these years later I still chuckle at what a fucking moron that guy is.
LOL. Wrong. Dude was a damn fine actor. Name a bad film.
Shutter Island. Titanic. What's Eating Gilbert Grape. He was awful in everything I saw him in. The only reason I don't still hate his acting is because someone dragged me to see Inception. After that, Django Unchained and The Wolf of Wallstreet, I thought maybe my tastes have changed, and he was good in that old stuff. I went back and watched some of it and he was still fucking awful.
 

Ionian

Member
Shutter Island. Titanic. What's Eating Gilbert Grape. He was awful in everything I saw him in. The only reason I don't still hate his acting is because someone dragged me to see Inception. After that, Django Unchained and The Wolf of Wallstreet, I thought maybe my tastes have changed, and he was good in that old stuff. I went back and watched some of it and he was still fucking awful.

Barely remember Shutter Island, do remember liking it though. 'What's eating girlbert grape'. I only remember a fat woman eats herself to death. Agree that's not shake spear.
EDIT: thought inception was his worst. Had to watch it a second time to be sure.

So pointlessly boring for me.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom