Web-Slinging Facts About Spider-Man’s Amazing Theatrical Adventures

Originally created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for Marvel Comics in 1962, Spider-Man was never going to stay confined to paper pages. In 2002, the web-slinger made his American theatrical debut thanks to director Sam Raimi. The film re-defined what it meant to be a Summer blockbuster and helped kick off the superhero craze that has continued to dominate multi-plexes since. In that time, Peter Parker has starred in eight stand-alone movies while being featured in several others. Here is everything you didn’t know you needed to know about all of the Spider-Man movies!

A TV Show Turned Into A Movie

a still image from spider man the dragons challenge
CBS
CBS

In 1977, Columbia pictures produced a television movie for Spider-Man intended to lead into a series. Peter Parker was played by Nicholas Hammond, who commanded the role for two seasons and thirteen episodes.

Overseas, these episodes were cut into three movies: Spider-Man, Spider-Man Strikes Back, and Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge. While it can be argued that these, and not 2002’s Spider-Man count as Spidey’s big-screen debut, the truth is they were never intended to be watched that way.

Tom Cruise Almost Played Spidey In The ’80s

tom cruise was almost cast as spider man in the 1980s
Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images
Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images

In the ’80s, Cannon Films bought the rights for Spider-Man from Marvel for $225,000 and began developing a movie. The studio targeted rising star Tom Cruise for the title role and considered Katharine Hepburn for Aunt May.

The film, which would have featured Doc Ock as the main villain never materialized, and in 1990 the character’s rights reverted back to Marvel. Of course, this wouldn’t be the last time a Spider-Man movie had its web cut short.

Arnold Schwarzenegger As The Villain

arnold schwarzenegger almost played a spider man villain
Siemoneit/Sygma via Getty Images
Siemoneit/Sygma via Getty Images

James Cameron took his shot at making a Spider-Man film in the ’90s, even writing the screenplay. Once again, Doc Ock would be the villain, and he would have been played by Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The reason this movie never got made is pretty simple – Cameron reportedly filled the script with profanity and at least one NSFW scene between Spider-Man and Mary Jane. With another movie canned, Marvel would need the third time to be the charm.

Sam Raimi Saved The Day

sam raimi directing spider-man in 2002
Sony/Columbia/Marvel
Sony/Columbia/Marvel

Sony took a huge chance when they hired Sam Raimi to make a Spider-Man film at the turn of the century. Known as a horror director, Raimi’s only foray into comic book territory was Dark Man, a low budget and dark take on the genre released in 1990.

The risk paid off. Spider-Man, starring Tobey Maguire, was released in 2002 to critical acclaim. The movie grossed $114 million in it’s opening weekend, becoming the first in history to do so.

A Post 9/11 Tribute Was Included

in 2002 spider man included a scene to pay tribute to new york city after 9/11
Sony/Columbia/Marvel
Sony/Columbia/Marvel

Released less than one year after the events of September 11, 2001, Spider-Man made sure to include a scene honoring New York. When citizens of the recovering city scene throw things at Green Goblin on the bridge, they show their unity resilience. This scene was not in the original script.

Posters featuring the Twin Towers were also removed from cinemas, and anyone who own one today has a highly valuable collector’s item on their hands.

A Fan Backlash Over Webs

spider man shooting web out of his wrist in 2002
Sony/Columbia/Marvel
Sony/Columbia/Marvel

For as much as Sam Raimi got right about Spider-Man, he got one thing wrong according to die-hard comic book fans. In the movie, Peter Parker gains the ability to shoot web organically from his wrists after being bit by the spider.

In the comics, Parker created “web slingers” that he wears on his wrists and shoots a synthetic web from. Raimi defended his decision as more logical than a high school student with no spare time and resources being able to invent his own weapon.

Alfred Molina Named His Tentacles

alfred molina named his tentacles in spider man 2
Sony/Columbia/Marvel
Sony/Columbia/Marvel

Spider-Man 2 came out in 2004 and finally brought Doc Ock to the big screen. Played brilliantly by Alfred Molina, the actor wore a suit of mechanical tentacles on his back that he grew quite fond of.

Molina became so attached to his four tentacles that he gave them names: Harry, Flo, Moe, and Larry. While three of his tentacles received Three Stooges names, Flo was special according to Molina, and was named because it was the “most motherly” helping feed him and remove his sunglasses.

It Hurts Being Bad

thomas haden church broke three knuckles punching through a wall while filming spider man 3
Sony/Columbia/Marvel
Sony/Columbia/Marvel

In Spider-Man 3, Thomas Haden Church played conflicted villain Sandman. It didn’t take long into filming that Church learned just how much it hurts to be bad. During his first take of punching through a brick wall, he broke three knuckles.

Before shooting Church was told that the bricks in the middle were fake, and the ones on the top and bottom were real. The only problem was the fake bricks hadn’t been put into place when cameras began rolling.

What Happened To Spider-Man 4?

spider man 4 was canceled by sony
Sony/Columbia/Marvel
Sony/Columbia/Marvel

After Spider-Man 3 wrapped, Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire were supposed to return for Spider-Man 4. Unfortunately, the movie was canceled after the negative reaction to the overstuffed threequel. That’s not the only reason, though.

During shooting for Spider-Man 3, Raimi clashed with Sony about the direction the franchise should go. Ultimately, he made the decision to quit, believing he couldn’t deliver another film in the time frame he was being given. Sony then decided to start the franchise over with up-and-coming actor Andrew Garfield and indie film director Marc Webb.

Andrew Garfield Cried

andrew garfield cried when he was cast as spider man
Sony/Columbia/Marvel
Sony/Columbia/Marvel

It was no easy task replacing Tobey Maguire. “With great power comes great responsibility,” were words that weighed heavy on Andrew Garfield. He was so affected by his casting that he even admitted to crying the first time he tried on the uniform.

Luckily fans fell in love withe the new Peter Parker. The Amazing Spider-Man made $262 million at the box office and spawned one sequel before Marvel came knocking on Sony’s door (we’ll get to that later).

The Return Of The “Web Slingers”

the amazing spider man brought web slingers back to the franchise
Sony/Columbia/Marvel
Sony/Columbia/Marvel

With Marc Webb behind the camera, the “web-slingers” that Sam Raimi left behind returned. The new director felt that Parker was special before getting bitten, and having him invent the canisters and web fluid himself was proof of that.

Of course, taking a more organic approach wasn’t the only change that Webb made. He literally started the franchise over, taking Peter Parker back to high school and replacing Mary Jane Watson with Gwen Stacy.

Mary Jane Who?

the rebooted amazing spider man franchise went with gwen stacy instead of mary jane watson
Sony/Columbia/Marvel
Sony/Columbia/Marvel

In the comics, Peter Parker’s original love interest was Gwen Stacey, not Mary Jane Watson. Although Watson is the more famous love interest, the rebooted franchise chose to focus on Spidey’s first love instead.

That doesn’t mean Mary Jane was never going to be in the new movies. Shailene Woodley was cast as the character for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and even filmed scenes — which were left on the cutting room floor.

J.K. Simmons Was Irreplaceable

j jonah jameson was left out of the rebooted spider man franchise after jk simmons iconic performance
Sony/Columbia/Marvel
Sony/Columbia/Marvel

Another character noticeably absent from the Andrew Garfield led Spider-Man movies was J.Jonah Jameson. Originally played by J.K Simmons, his take on the iconic character was considered to perfect by the crew to top.

Since Spider-Man 3 the character has been noticeably absent from any iterations from the franchise. Or has he? Without getting into spoilers, Spider-Man: Far From Home, released in 2019, may just have hinted at the return of Jameson, and Simmons back in the role, too!

Stan Lee Wanted To Play Jameson

stan lee would have wanted to play j jonah jameson in spider man if he was younger
Suzanne Cordeiro/Corbis via Getty Images
Suzanne Cordeiro/Corbis via Getty Images

By the time Spider-Man came out, Stan Lee was 80-years-old, about 30 years too old to play J. Jonah Jameson. Before he passed in 2018, Lee revealed that if he had been younger he would have loved to play the character.

Would his take have been as brash and over-the-top as J.K. Simmons? It’s impossible to know, but we’d be lying if we said we weren’t curious about Lee’s possible take on the character.

Andrew Garfield Was Fired… Maybe

after the amazing spider man 2 came out, andrew garfield may have been fired from the role of peter parker
Sony/Columbia/Marvel
Sony/Columbia/Marvel

In 2015, an email hack to Sony revealed that Andrew Garfield may have been fired for insulting the boss of the company. Kaz Hirai was going to announce The Amazing Spider-Man 3 at a dinner in Brazil when Garfield canceled his appearance.

Before making the announcement, Hirai changed his mind. The actor has disputed the email leak, claiming, “What I’ll proudly say is that I didn’t compromise who I was, I was only ever myself. And that might have been difficult for some people.”

Marvel Returns

marvel rebooted spider man a third time with tom holland playing the web slinger
Sony/Marvel
Sony/Marvel

Shortly after Garfield was gone, Sony announced a deal with Marvel, allowing the character to be included in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sony still owned the rights to the character, but Marvel would start the franchise over again.

Tom Holland was quickly cast as the new Peter Parker and made his Spider-Man debut in Captain America: Civil War. One-year-later he would star in his first MCU stand-alone movie: Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Rising To The Top

spider man had a huge impact in the mcu
Sony/Marvel
Sony/Marvel

Spider-Man may have been introduced to the MCU nine-years after it began, but he quickly became one of its most important characters. Peter Parker’s relationship with Tony Stark was so vital, that it became one of the emotional arcs of Avengers: Endgame.

With Spider-Man coming back to life thanks to the time heist, Tony Stark sacrificed himself to save not only his newfound family but his mentee. The goodbye between the two characters left fans in tears as credits rolled.

The End Of Phase 4

spider man far from home ended phase 4 of the mcu
Sony/Marvel
Sony/Marvel

Continuing to prove how important he was to the MCU, Spider-Man second stand-alone film Spider-Man: Far From Home, officially ended Marvel’s “Phase 4.” It was the first film released after Endgame and dealt with the aftermath of that movie’s events.

Spider-Man: Far From Home made $380 million in the United States and cracked one billion dollars worldwide. With success like that, the future seemed bright for the web-slinger. Then the worst-case scenario happened.

Sony And Marvel File For Divorce

sony and marvel ended their financing deal after spider man far from home
Sony/Marvel
Sony/Marvel

Spider-Man: Far From Home ended with a major cliffhanger for Peter Parker, and the news that came out after its release crushed fans. Marvel and Sony couldn’t come to terms on a new co-financing deal to keep the character in the MCU.

The split was met with anger across the internet. Rabid fans pleaded with Sony to change their minds, while MCU regulars like Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) made the same plea with Marvel. Sadly, neither side was willing to compromise.

Holland Is Confident In Sony

tom holland trusts the direction sony is taking spider man in
Han Myung-Gu/WireImage
Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

With Spider-Man going back home to Sony fans were not only left wondering what would happen with the MCU, but Tom Holland as well. Much to their dismay, Holland is under contract with Sony, not Marvel, and is committed for at least one more Spider-Man adventure.

For his part, Holland is doing his best to fan the flames of hate, saying that what Sony has planned is bigger and better than anything he could have imagined.