It’s easy to forget, particularly in the excitement of the new Peter Parker’s reveal in Captain America: Civil War, that Sony and Marc Webb initially intended to make a longer Spider-Man series. The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was supposed to come out this summer, and though plenty of fans were happy enough to see the would-be trilogy cut short after two films, it’s difficult not to wonder what kind of film we might have been going to see this summer.
As we’ve discussed previously, the Webb films differed fairly significantly from the “Amazing Spider-Man” comics upon which they were supposedly based. That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of plot point similarities, but by no means did Sony and Webb create exact adaptations. As tends to be the case with superhero cinema, they merely used some concepts and focal characters from that particular strain of Spidey comics as inspiration and then crafted the films they wished to make.
Their independence actually started right off the bat when The Amazing Spider-Man presented a more mature Peter Parker focused largely on “real world” concerns. As iconic as the title “Amazing Spider-Man” is, some forget that it’s actually the oldest Spider-Man tale there is. To that point, an online slot machine game called “The Amazing Spider-Man Slot” is described as hailing from the original story of Peter Parker and displays graphics reminiscent of old comics. As a slot arcade game, it’s a relatively simple depiction of Spider-Man and his nemeses (such as Venom), but there’s an argument to be made that even this game was more closely tied to the original story than Marc Webb’s first film.
The early issues of “The Amazing Spider-Man” focused largely on the adolescent concerns of a deeply flawed teenage superhero: school bullying, a part-time job as the photographer for the Daily Bugle, and romantic entanglements. While the film did touch on high-school concerns, it pretty much catapulted Peter Parker right into superhero-sized conflicts and high drama. It’s understandable—they have to sell tickets, and moviegoers expect something more like Iron Man than The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. That being said, it felt disconnected from its primary comic sources. This is also why many legitimate Spider-Man comics fans were thrilled to hear that Tom Holland’s version of Peter Parker would showcase more of a focus on youth. Despite the fact that we’ve seen multiple Spider-Man origin stories on the big screen, we’ve never really focused on him as a teenager.
At any rate, the tendency of Sony and Marc Webb to go their own way with their Spider-Man story makes it pretty difficult to guess what The Amazing Spider-Man 3 may have looked like, at least in terms of identifying comic book influence. But one analysis took the time to collect some quotes from actors involved in the franchise, and it they had to say about a possible third film was mildly troubling.
Andrew Garfield, a polarizing Peter Parker who was deeply attached to the role, indicated that he was involved with the script and bounced ideas back and forth with would-be screenwriter Alex Kurtzman. The two seemed to be delving into some dark places to depict Parker’s struggles to cope with the tragic events at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (which were mostly taken from the comic issue “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”). That’s all well and good and sounds perfectly natural. But Denis Leary, who played Captain Stacy, made things sound a little crazier when he indicated that there would have been some kind of regeneration formula that would have allowed Parker to bring back the people he’d lost. The Spider-Man comics dealt with some dark and twisted stuff, and even cloning at various points, but did anyone really want a zombie Gwen Stacy on the big screen? Probably not.
Of course, we’ll never know what might have been, but based on the little evidence we have about the abandoned project, it may be for the best that Webb’s series was cut short. Fans are perfectly happy with the Tom Holland version of Peter Parker that now exists in the MCU, and it sounds as if The Amazing Spider-Man 3 might have eschewed comics in favor of crazy.