Monday’s shocking announcement that one of the decade’s most successful film franchises has thrown in the towel on a fourth installment hit fans as hard as a Sandman punch to the face. Now, Raimi and Tobey and Kirsten and everyone else are going to move on to other projects, and all we can do is miss them — and, of course, look back on the better days.
Remembering back to the 2001 press conference in a wrestling ring that started it all — yep, I was there! — all the way up to Monday’s sad goodbye, it somehow seems like “Spider-Man 4″ was the most dramatic movie in the series, simply through its production twists and turns. And so, it is with great affection that we look back on the roller-coaster ride of the Spidey movie we’ll never see.
April 24, 2007: On the eve of the “Spider-Man 3″ debut, Raimi and his cast were cautiously optimistic about extending the franchise. Kirsten Dunst said she’d love to return and wanted MJ and Peter to have “like, eight babies.”
May 7, 2007: “Spider-Man 3″ opens to an amazing $148 million weekend , breaking the records for biggest opening frame and biggest day. Although it is generally considered to be the weakest of the three Raimi films — what was up with emo Peter Parker ? — fans undoubtedly want more.
June 26, 2007: In some of his first public comments regarding another sequel , Raimi makes headlines by saying he’s considering such possible villains as Vulture and the Sinister Six.
July 31, 2008: Word leaks that Sony is considering making an entire movie that would revolve around “Spider-Man 3″ villain Venom. The creator of Venom tells us that Spidey’s black-suited supervillain would make a great subject of his own movie.
September 5, 2008: Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire sign on to a fourth (and possibly fifth) film in the blockbuster franchise. The name of Kirsten Dunst is suspiciously absent , and the villain in the film is largely suspected to be Dylan Baker’s long-developed supervillain the Lizard.
October 31, 2008: Holy pedigree! Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire is hired to pen the script, says his focus will be “outsiders in search of clarity.”
March 12, 2009: Sony and Marvel Studios announce a fast-but-not-completely-unreasonable release date of May 6, 2011, for “Spider-Man 4.”
April 23, 2009: Sony bosses reveal plans to possibly shoot the fourth film in 3-D, which would make it the first superhero movie ever shot with the “Avatar” technology.
May 19, 2009: Sam Raimi tells MTV that he is four weeks away from seeing playwright Lindsay-Abaire’s first draft. He also says that he has spoken with Dunst about returning and that “she’s very excited about the possibility.”
September 15, 2009: Dunst’s role in the fourth film is seemingly confirmed, as are plans to release the movie in IMAX.
November 17, 2009: Rachel McAdams quashes rumors that she’s a contender for the role of Felicia Hardy, a.k.a. Black Cat. But the rumors seem to at least provide some insight into who the villain is supposed to be.
December 8, 2009: Word leaks that John Malkovich may be in the running to play the Vulture — which would finally erase any ability we have to differentiate the veteran actor from first “Spider-Man” film villain Willem Dafoe.
December 16, 2009: With the chaos at its most intense, a hesitant Tobey Maguire pleads the fifth on anything having to do with our friendly neighborhood web-slinger. Something seems to be up.
January 5, 2010: Sources confirm to MTV that pre-production has ground to a halt, as Raimi has grown unhappy with the script and concerned over the looming deadline.
January 7, 2010: Norse God of Thunder/ future S.H.I.E.L.D. member Thor begins filming his first movie and stakes out a release date of May 20, 2011. With two Marvel movies unlikely to debut on the same weekend, somebody’s got to flinch, right?
January 11, 2010: “Spider-Man 4″ is officially scrapped .