Our latest iterations of heroes typically toe a pretty family-friendly line. But a recent look back at Spider-Man‘s cinematic history by Variety revealed that there were other ideas on the table throughout the web-slinger’s long existence in Hollywood. And one of them touches on a long-held question about Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man and the nature of his organic web shooters. Spider-Man: No Way Home even recently posed the question as it gathered generations of Spider-Mans. Can Peter Parker’s organic webs come out of anywhere other than his hands? Well, the answers seem to be yes, symbolically, at least, according to James Cameron and his scrapped Spider-Man vision.
Variety notes that in the early 1990s, James Cameron penned “an 80-page ‘scriptment’—part script, part treatment—for a Spider-Man movie that featured Electro as the main villain and opened with Peter Parker already well into his career as Spider-Man.” But the scriptment leaned in on some “bold ideas.”
David Koepp, the screenwriter for 2002’s Spider-Man, elaborates on Cameron’s Spider-Man plans. He notes, “He pushed the metaphor of adolescent sexual development really far. There’s a great moment where Peter wakes up in bed with web strands all over himself. It was like, wow, I don’t know if we can do the wet dream thing, but that was pretty funny. Even just the fact that Cameron had taken it seriously was a big deal. It legitimized it in people’s minds—not least of all, probably, Sony.”
Honestly, it is pretty funny. We can’t imagine it flying today. But as far as Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, it doesn’t seem like it would have been all that out of place if Sony had opted to keep it. In a sense, discovering powers and experiencing bodily changes does seem like a good analogue for puberty. But getting into the nitty-gritty of real teenage experience wasn’t yet on the menu. Cameron moved on and the Spider-Man movie evolved away from sexual undertones. (Or, overtones, as the case may be.)
But interestingly, Sony did keep Cameron’s organic web shooters idea alive, they just didn’t take it there, as it were. So, to answer No Way Home‘s question… if we go by the original Cameron Spider-Man canon, which kicked off the idea of Spider-Man’s webs originating from inside of him… The webs seem like they probably can come out of other places. At least, it feels heavily implied. Cheers.