Spider-Man 3 grossed a whopping $890 million at the worldwide box office in 2007, but the film was panned by critics and fans alike. Even so, Sony Pictures and director Sam Raimi still wanted to move forward with a fourth film in Tobey Maguire-led series. In October 2008, James Vanderbilt was hired to pen the script; however, a year later, it had already gone through two rewrites by David Lindsay-Abaire and Gary Ross. When the script still wasn't up to snuff by January 2010, Raimi dropped out of the project and Sony officially cancelled Spider-Man 4 and began working on a reboot.
"It really was the most amicable and undramatic of breakups: It was simply that we had a deadline and I couldn't get the story to work on a level that I wanted it to work. I was very unhappy with Spider-Man 3, and I wanted to make Spider-Man 4 to end on a very high note, the best Spider-Man of them all," Raimi told Vulture in 2013. "But I couldn't get the script together in time, due to my own failings, and I said to Sony, 'I don't want to make a movie that is less than great, so I think we shouldn't make this picture. Go ahead with your reboot, which you've been planning anyway.' And [Sony co-chairman] Amy Pascal said, 'Thank you. Thank you for not wasting the studio's money, and I appreciate your candor." So we left on the best of terms, both of us trying to do the best thing for fans, the good name of Spider-Man, and Sony Studios.'"
Before Spider-Man 4 was cancelled, John Malkovich was in negotiations to play Vulture and Anne Hathaway was in talks for the role of Felicia Hardy/Black Cat. Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell, who made cameos in the first three Spider-Man films, was going to appear as evil illusionist Quentin Beck/Mysterio.
Of course, all of this is being brought up again because storyboard art for Spider-Man 4, created by Jeffrey Henderson, has surfaced online, giving us a glimpse of what might have been.
io9 reached out to Henderson, and he confirmed that Campbell was only going to make a cameo as part of “a montage of C and D- list villains that we knew would never be used as main antagonists: Mysterio, the Shocker, the Prowler, the old school-onesie-wearing version of the Rhino, maybe even the Stilt Man, etc.”
Henderson also shed some light on Raimi's take on Vulture. “The thing we kept coming back to was that, as a character, everyone was going to dismiss the Vulture as just an old guy in a silly green suit,” Henderson said. “So we wanted to go the opposite way and really make him the most fearsome and formidable adversary that Spider-Man had faced in the series.”
Spider-Man: Homecoming, being directed by Jon Watts, will be released on July 7, 2017.