Spider-Man 4: What Really Happened?

3. Too Many Villains? (Again)

Article lead image
Marvel Comics

At this point in the Spider-Man 4 production timeline, it's late 2009: the movie has a director, several other crew members including a production designer and some visual effects supervisors, and stars Maguire and Dunst are back on board. While the script wasn't yet finished, everything was seemingly in place, aside from a release date.

One other big question also still remained on the lips of fans: what would the film actually be about?

Despite going through writers quicker than Fox goes through bad Fantastic Four movies, Spider-Man 4 suffered surprisingly few trustworthy plot leaks over the many years it was in development. But one area of the film that did see a lot of media attention was its villains.

Spider-Man 3 received a lot of hate for the amount of baddies it shoehorned in, so it was genuinely surprisingly to hear that so many members of Spidey's rogues gallery were associated with Spider-Man 4. An early report arrived in March 2007, when CinemaBlend stated that Morlun - a vampire-like being - was under consideration.

And the rumours didn't stop there.

Morlun spiderman
Marvel Comics

One villain who was widely expected to appear was The Lizard.

"The Lizard is probably one of my favourite characters", Raimi told MTV in 2007. Grant Curtis, producer of the first three Spidey films, said "it's hard to beat The Lizard" in an interview with IFMagazine.

Curt Connors (Lizard's human alter-ego) had already been established in the Raimi-verse as Peter's professor, and actor Dylan Baker wanted to suit up. It seemed like a sure bet.

Spider-Man Dylan Baker Lizard
Sony Pictures

A background player in the series so far, he would need very minimal screen-time to advance into villain territory...

But in that same MTV interview, Raimi stated that he'd love to see Electro, Vulture or The Sinister Six appear in the film, and after all this chatter, speculation and conjecture continued for several months, we were still no closer to finding out who the villain of Spider-Man 4 would actually be.

John Malkovich Vulture
Marvel

Fortunately, a pair of frontrunners soon emerged. In December 2009, Movieline sources stated that John Malkovich and Anne Hathaway were in talks to portray the Vulture and Felicia Hardy, respectively. While Hardy usually becomes Black Cat in the comics, this version of the character would reportedly end up being the Vulturess, an all-new superpowered antagonist.

Hathaway's character was also rumoured to be Vulture's daughter. In a possible plot outline published by Vulture (the site, not the winged dude) Felicia and Peter enter into a relationship after he breaks up with Mary-Jane, and Peter would also kill Vulture. As you'd expect, Felicia rejects Peter after discovering he killed her father. This story has never been confirmed, however.

Colossal Anne Hathaway
Neon

What has been confirmed is that Hathaway was indeed in negotiations to star in the film, after Raimi - chatting with Vulture in 2013 - mentioned her work on it, saying: "I loved what she was doing with the auditions for Spider-Man 4." But crucially, whether she was going to play Black Cat or Vulturess wasn't discussed. On the Malkovich side of things, he was confirmed as Vulture by the actor himself in an interview with /Film.

So if Spider-Man 4 had gone ahead, it seems like Vulture was a lock, as was Hathaway as either Vulturess or Black Cat (or maybe even both?). But the movie's villains didn't stop there.

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Video editor and writer WhatCulture/WhoCulture. Bought a 4K copy of The Martian in 2016 and still haven't watched it.