Just before making Titanic and becoming one of the biggest directors of all time, James Cameron was just a hotshot filmmaker with just a few straight up bangers on his resume. At the time, Cameron was resolute in getting Spider-Man with Leonardo Dicaprio into the cinemas before the millennium was over, but his dream would not come to pass.
The James Cameron Spider-Man movie has been whispered about in comic book nerd circles for decades. It was supposed to be akin to some of the most violent Spider-Man comics, and it was surprisingly sexy. After reading the filmmaker's scriptment, it’s safe to say the Spider-Man movie James Cameron almost made was a mess of excelsior proportions.
As bad as James Cameron’s Spider-Man scriptment is, it helped pave the way for Sam Raimi’s excellent stab at the character, which would go on to make superhero films viable in Hollywood for the next decade and counting. All of Cameron's juvenile interests are on display in the script, and it reads like someone really swinging for the fences. It’s not great, but if he had the chance to hone the film and nurse it through production, it may have actually been an interesting ride.
Keep reading true believers, and learn all about how James Cameron almost made a Spider-Man movie.
If you’d like to know what Peter Parker thinks of you, just read James Cameron’s scriptment:
"Nerdy. He doesn't care. Screw 'em... He thinks they are the real losers. They'll be flipping burgers while he's discovering the cure to cancer. We'll see who wins in the long run. He wears his isolation like a badge... with an air of superiority."
In addition to his "edgier" attitude, the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler also developed quite the potty mouth. The one thing about Spider-Man that never changes is that he’s one of the wittiest character in the Marvel Universe. There are stronger, smarter, and more powerful characters, but you can always count on Peter Parker for a sharp-tongued quip.
So it’s a bit out of character for James Cameron to write dialogue where Parker shouts stuff like: “I'll kill you! Motherf*cker! You hear me?! You're dead, you sick bastard!”
The casting rumors for James Cameron’s Spider-Man are just rumors, but they are VERY '90s. The names that keep swirling around are Leonardo DiCaprio – who would go on to star in Cameron’s Titanic – and Edward Furlong who had just worked with Cameron on T2. Both of these actors make sense, DiCaprio still had the boyish charm that made him pop in Romeo + Juliet, and Furlong hadn't yet descended into the late period Val Kilmer cosplay.
Each of these actors would have made for an entirely different movie, both interesting in their own right, but it’s probably for the best that Toby Maguire ended up donning the mask.
The scriptment is full of “cool” asides to let the reader know that Cameron doesn't really care about any of what he’s writing. He may be trying to illustrate that Parker is one of those disaffected youths he’s heard so much about, but Cameron just comes off like a dick. After the final fight where Sandman is straight up murdered, Cameron simply writes, “bummer.”
There’s a disaffected Gen-X feeling to the whole script where the bombastic is made understated – mostly for the worst. However, there is a great moment where Spider-Man saves Mary Jane’s life. He swings her safety while Electro is throwing lightning bolts at them and the scene ends with Mary Jane telling Spidey that she loves him. His response? “Cool.”
Somehow, Cameron's teen anger toward jocks and babes is intertwined with his old man anger at seeing youths watch music videos and wear their Sketchers. In one passage, he manages to crap on Pearl Jam, MTV, and people who don’t care about Greek culture.
From James Cameron’s Spider-Man:
“Peter is a bright kid. He doesn't have many friends. He is ostracized for his interest in science. Our MTV culture frowns on people who think too much. Intellectual curiosity is decidedly un-hip. Who cares about where the universe came from or how the Greeks hammered Troy? Did you hear the new Pearl Jam album?”