How To Kill A Superhero Franchise In 20 Easy Steps: Spider-Man Edition

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Is Spidey cursed?

Rarely has a major motion picture franchise fallen so far so fast. In only 3 years – make that 20 perilous steps – the Spider-Man franchise went off a cliff. What had once reminded us of Batman now only reminds us of Batman and Robin. Make that Catwoman. (or any other titles from our list of the worst superhero films of all time)

Tuesday’s news that the much-anticipated Spidey musical was not to be – announced less than 24 hours after Spider-Man 4 was slaughtered in its current form – seemed like kicking a hero when he was down. But alas, the webbed warrior has been wrestled away from his most devout fans, disfigured on the big screen in Spider-Man 3, and now killed on the front page of Variety.

(More on Techland: James Cameron Almost Saved Spidey 18 Years Ago)

There’s only one thing left to do – swat through the cob webs of the fallen dynasty and retrace Spidey’s ill-fated steps that have doomed both the musical and films. Behold, the sad, slow death of our big-screen Spider-Man:

Jan. 12, 2010

The latest Spider-Man misstep has its very own spotlight.

Earlier today, execs for the Broadway show Spider-Man, Turn Off The Dark announced they’d be handing back refunds along with apologies. Preview performances of the show, starring Alan Cumming and Evan Rachel Wood, were set to begin Feb. 25, but have been canceled.

The show has suffered mega delays due to producers being unable to raise enough cash to foot the $50 million production bill ­– the largest ever for a Broadway show.

According to the New York Times, the show is still slated to open in 2010, though with Spider-Man’s recent luck, I’m not so sure. Looks like my dreams of Sing-A-Long Spidey could be dead.

(More on Techland: Best of the Decade: Characters)

Jan. 11, 2010

Sam Raimi, out. Toby Maguire, out. Yet Spider-Man 4 lives.

Why. Won’t. It. Die?

Sony announces plans to resuscitate the Spider-Man franchise with a gritty, teen-version of Peter Parker. Remarkable reasoning skills on Sony’s part because when I think “gritty” I think “typical high school movie.” Please note that had James Cameron made his original Spider-Man film in the early 90s, we might be watching Spider-Man 4 in 3D right now…

Jan. 10, 2010

Actor John Malkovich tells an Italian sports show that he’d been tapped to play the Vulture for the latest Spidey installment and that he was just waiting on the script to arrive.

(More on Techland: The Five Underrated Sci-Fi Movie Masterpieces)

Jan. 5 2010

After a string of unsuccessful rewrites, production on the fourth film is halted and its release date is given to upcoming Disney blockbuster “Thor.” Rumors point to clashes between Raimi and studio heads over the film’s villains as the reason for the hold up.

Dec. 31, 2009

Disney finishes its $4.24 billion purchase of Marvel. Movies already under production at Marvel Films will remain (relatively) untouched by new Disney fingers, but in this case, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.

Dec. 17, 2009

The film is on hold due to spats between Raimi and Sony producers over who should be Spider-Man’s next nemesis. It also comes out that Raimi’s hand was forced on the set of  Spider-Man 3, where he was told to use Venom as the villain, despite the fact that he wanted to use the Vulture.

(More on Techland: Top 10 Superhero Deaths of the Decade)

November, 2009

Casting rumors run a muck through the blogosphere. Among them:

Anne Hathaway might appear as the Black Cat. Rachel McAddams will appear as the Black Cat. Hell, I even might appear as the Black Cat.

Nov. 6, 2009

Reeve Carney is cast as Peter Parker in the Broadway Musical Spider-Man, Turn Off The Dark. He’s in a band I’ve never heard of. I Google them, find their music video and hate them pretty much instantly.


Oct. 7, 2009

Gary Ross could direct Spider-Man spinoff Venom, which he would also write. No one thinks this is a good idea.

Aug. 17, 2009

Spider-Man 5 and 6? Whoa, whoa, whoa. The third sucked, we know nothing (as in zilch, zip) about Spider-Man 4, and you’re planning two more? Sony, you’re losing it.

Aug. 6, 2009

Spidey the musical might be broke.

(More on Techland: Best of the Decade: Comics)

July 8, 2009

Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasentville) is the latest to make an attempt on the Spider-Man 4 script.

June 26, 2009

Rachel Evan Wood and Alan Cumming are cast as the stars of Broadway’s Spider-Man, Turn Off The Dark.


May 21, 2009

Spider-Man 3 actress Lucy Gordon dies in her Paris apartment. (What did I say about that Spidey curse?)

March 27, 2009

Julie Taymor calls upcoming musical a “circus rock-n-roll drama.” Perfect.

(More on Techland: Disappointments of the Decade: The Master List)

May 4, 2007

Spider-Man 3 is released. Oh god, is it terrible. It goes on to earn $890 million and no one has a clue how.


April 20, 2007

Spider-Man, the musical is born. Bono and the Edge are set to write the music. The world groans.

June 30, 2004

Audiences cheer as Spider-Man 2, one of the best superhero movies of all time, lands in theaters. In hindsight, it now serves as a reminder that the whole Spider-Man franchise could have turned out so differently. But it didn’t. A studio interfered. An iconic character was stretched too thin. The magic was gone.

Skip the reboot, just bury the man already.

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