How many times the Marvel hero reached the big screen? A lot of. And if you don’t yet have a tattoo of him, this might be the time to give it some serious thought…
Spiderman, the Marvel comics hero has been doing the rounds since 1962 and, in over fifty years, has seen all sorts of variations on the original plot. His movie career began in the mid-’70s when everybody’s favourite “wall crawler” first appeared in three films made for television on CBS (‘Spiderman’, ‘Spiderman Strikes Again’ and ‘Spiderman – The Dragon’s Challenge’). He was played by Nicholas Hammond and the films were broadcast to great success between ’77 and ’79.
The ’80s should have marked the breakthrough to Hollywood and the big time for Peter Parker and his secret alter ego, but, as we will see, something didn’t go quite right. The latest Superman flops starring Christopher Reeve (including the disappointing ‘Superman IV’ in ’87) convinced the majors to put the Spiderman project on hold to the dismay of millions of fans. Notwithstanding industry rumours and the efforts of the well-known film-maker Tobe Hooper (‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ director) who did his best to convince the producers, there was no more mention of Spider-Man throughout the ’90s.
The year of the great comeback was 2002 when the first ‘Spider-Man’ came out directed by Sam Raimi (the cult director of ‘The Evil Dead’) and made a star of Tobey Maguire (Peter Parker) and Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane Watson). The film dealt with the formative years of Peter and his “mutation” caused by the bite of a genetically modified spider. It featured a worthy enemy in the form of Willem DaFoe as the ruthless industrialist Norman Osborn who, in the course of the film, would turn into the Green Goblin. Just a short note in the margins: Harry, Osborn’s son, is played by a young James Franco who appears here in his first blockbuster.
It was such a resounding success at the box office (over 800 million dollars) that Raimi immediately got the go-ahead for a sequel. ‘Spider-Man 2’ came out in June 2004 and rolled out another classic enemy (played by Alfred Molina), aka Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus. The film was a hit with the critics and even won an Oscar for “best special effects”. Then in 2007, the third instalment came out, ‘Spider-Man 3’, and was a landslide success at the box office (890 million dollars!), but caused a serious rift between the director and the producers at Sony Pictures.
Raimi was all on for a ‘Spider-Man 4’ (which would never come out…) and even had plans for another trilogy which would feature big names like John Malkovich and Anne Hathaway, but in the end the studio took the controversial and totally unexpected decision to reboot the saga with a film about the first high school adventures of Peter Parker. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ appeared on screens in July 2012 directed by Marc Webb. This time around the red and blue costume was worn by Andrew Garfeld (who had starred in ‘The Social Network’), and the bad guy, Lizard, was played by the Welsh actor Rhys Ifans while Emma Watson takes on the role of Gwen Stacy, Peter’s girlfriend. In the meantime other two chapters have increased the franchise (2014 ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ and 2017 ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’) with a working title (‘Spider-Man: Homecoming 2’) expected for July 5, 2019. We’ll wait and see!