There have been a slew of fantastic Spider-Man movies, including at least two by Sam Raimi (or three depending on who you talk to), and several by Jon Watts, featuring Tom Holland asyour friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. Yet, the greatest Spider-Man film is unlikely to see: James Camerons Spider-Man.
Cameron spent years looking for aSpider-Man movie before filming. At the same time, Marvel had only a single theatrical film to its credit. And it wasHoward the Duck. Even someone who wants to turn a Marvel comic into a Hollywood movie was chastised.
In his new book,Tech Noir: The Art of James Cameron, Cameron talks about his desire to make a Spider-Man film. This enormous, beautiful volume contains hundreds of pieces of art by Cameron, sketches, paintings, and concept art, along with Cameron''s own commentary on his inspirations and technique. The book concludes with twoillustrations that Cameron painted while he was developingSpider-Manto show potential fans how it would look and feel.
While he rises above him, Cameron Spidey pokes fun at the character as he climbs up the sidewalk with a building in New York City. InTech Noir,Cameron callsSpider-Man the greatest movie I ever made. When I received the opportunity to speak with Cameron during a Zoom roundtable discussion ofTech Noir, I asked: Why does hisSpider-Man become the greatest white whale of his career,and how would his appearance differ from the manySpider-Man films we have
I believe it would have been very different, according to Cameron. For one thing, he said, he worked on his treatment with Stan Lees'' guidance and advice. I didn''t make a move without asking him permission, Cameron added, before revealing his conviction for the character.
Cameron said that the first thing you have to get your mind around is itsnot Spider-Man. He goes by Spider-Man, but he''s not Spider-Man. He''s Spider-High-School, and he''s kind of geeky. He''s not just famous, but he''s socially unpopular and all that stuff.
With that in mind, Cameron saw Spider-Man as a great metaphor, with his superpowers, presenting an untapped reservoir of potential that people do not recognize in themselves. It was also in my mind a metaphor for puberty and all the changes to your body, your anxieties about society, your attitudes towards your gender of choice, and all of the things you learned.
Cameron suggested a substantial change to Spider-Man: transforming his web-shooters from a computer that Peter Parker invents to a biological force he gains after being bitten by the radioactive spider. Lee agreed and the idea, however, ended up inSam RaimisSpider-Man (and laterin the pages ofThe Amazing Spider-Mancomicsas).
While the Raimis movie did utilize that particular approach, Cameron said hisSpider-Man would have looked very different than the web-slingers that have brought it to the big screen so far.
I wanted to make something that was more like Terminator and Aliens''s, and I wanted to do something that would have been more like Terminator and Aliens''. So, for example, he becomes this kid with these powers and he makes this suit and its terrible, and then he has to improve the suit, and his big concern is the damn suit. I wanted to use it in universal human experience.
Cameron never had the opportunity. Marvel had sold the rights to create aSpider-Man movie to Cannon Films, a low-budget company. (They never did anything with the material, but they also purchased it here.) When Cannon went under, Cameron convinced Carolco, the studio behindTerminator 2, to buy the rights to Spider-Man, but they went bankrupt before he could get the film out.
Cameron said, "Every day it was a free ball." I tried to get Fox to pay it, but apparently the rights were unveiled, and Sony had a very skewful attachment to the rights. But Fox wouldn''t go to bat for it, according to the creators. I know, this item might be worth $10 billion later...
The decision not to go after therights resulted in James Cameron''s Spider-Man''s conclusion. It wasn''t a complete loss, though, as Cameron now believes it taught him a valuable lesson. So I made a decision after Titanic to just type of move on and do my own things rather than labor in the house of others IP. So I think[Spider-Mannot coming together]was probably the ultimate in my ability to just go make my own stuff.
Tech Noiris is packed with Cameron''s own stuff, including extensive exploration ofXenogenesis, the science fiction novel that he hoped to put on the ground in the late 1970s, and Avatar, which will continue with four more sequels beginning withAvatar 2next December. This December, well getSpider-Man: No Way Home. It might be epic and exciting, but it still wont be James CameronsSpider-Man.
The Art of James Camerongoes in Tech Noir will be on sale on December 14.