Spider-Man is back on the big screen, and he’s drawing a large crowd. Again.
The early box office numbers for “Spider-Man: Homecoming” show we’re still not bored by the web-slinger after five feature films. In fact, the rebooted series is looking to outdraw “Wonder Woman’s” strong opening weekend figures.
That’s all well and good, but things haven’t always been rosy for the red and blue hero, now portrayed by 21-year-old Tom Holland. In fact, ol’ Spidey has suffered some very public pop culture defeats.
And you can’t pin them on The Vulture, Doc Ock or other classic foes. It’s not easy bringing a superhero to screens large and small, and Peter Parker has hit some bumps along the way.
4. TV’s “Spider-Man” Series
That suit. Those special effects. The hopelessly ’70s soundtrack. The late ’70s TV show starring Nicholas Hammond as Spidey drew a crowd during its initial debut. Yet the show proved expensive to produce, quickly slipped in the ratings and left the character’s creator, Stan Lee, annoyed.
Put them all together, and you’re left with a pop culture footnote in the character’s otherwise rich history.
3. Tobey Dances!
The first two “Spider-Man” films didn’t exist in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. The term wasn’t around back then. They still proved exceptional examples of superhero cinema.
“Spider-Man 3” is a different story. And the one element of the film pilloried by fans in unison? The hepcat Peter Parker. Yes, Spidey’s alter ego adopts a hipster hair ‘do and hits the dance floor. It’s all very silly, turning the third film in the series into a franchise stopper.
2. Oh, My Aching Back
Actor Tobey Maguire got into trouble before “Spider-Man 2” started production. The actor claimed a back injury suffered on the set of “Seabiscuit” might delay his participation in the sequel. The studio allegedly balked at the news, fearing it could be a negotiating ploy. So the suits scrambled to find a possible replacement. Jake Gyllenhaal?
The two parties finally came to an agreement, and Maguire returned for the highly successful sequel. For a while, both sides came out looking poorly.
1. The Spidey Movie That (Thankfully) Got Away
Did you know “King of the World” director James Cameron nearly got his own Spidey feature? Back in the ’90s, Carolco Pictures had the rights to the Marvel hero and wanted Cameron to helm a big-screen adaptation. So the “Titanic” auteur went to work on a treatment.
Keep in mind writing isn’t the director’s strong suit. If you gritted your teeth during parts of his epic “Avatar,” you know what we mean.
So what did Cameron have in mind? Released snippets of that treatment reveal a sequence where Peter wakes up to some sticky white web fluid in his bed. Also, Spider-Man peeps at Mary Jane at one point, giving the character a very post-adolescent vibe.
Cameron remains a talented director, but director Sam Raimi’s 2002 take on the character proved both family friendly and wildly successful.