The 2002 film Spider-Man, along with 2000’s X-Men, is largely responsible for setting the tone of the current era of superhero blockbusters. When Spider-Man hit theaters in 2002, it was an absolute monster hit at the box office, setting an all-time opening weekend record with $114 million. It also set the tone for how comic book adaptations could toe the line between feeling grounded on a character level, but also allowing for high-flying spectacle when it came to the superheroics.
David Koepp, the screenwriter behind blockbuster hits like Jurassic Park and Mission: Impossible, was enlisted to write the screenplay for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man film and during a conversation with Collider’s own Drew Taylor for our interview series Collider Connected—pegged to the release of Koepp’s new horror thriller You Should Have Left—the screenwriter revealed that he originally envisioned Spider-Man as a trilogy of stories. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with the team working on those films for Koepp to return for the sequels, but he told us his plan would have involved killing off Gwen Stacey halfway through Spider-Man 2:
“Basically [my trilogy idea] was the telling of the Gwen Stacey/Harry Osbourne story but I spaced everything out differently. I wanted Gwen to be killed in the middle of the second movie, because that follows sort of the Empire Strikes Back model, and I had different villains I wanted to use. Just a different way to tell that story.”
Raimi and Co. didn’t bring Gwen Stacy into the fold until Spider-Man 3, with Bryce Dallas Howard filling the role, but the film didn’t depict her death as it was trying to juggle Peter and MJ’s relationship, Sandman, James Franco’s Hobgoblin, and Topher Grace’s misguided depiction of Venom all at once. That, uh, did not turn out great.
Koepp was nearly given the opportunity to finally see his story idea come to fruition when he entered talks to map out The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and The Amazing Spider-Man 3, but he told us that as he started getting into it, “the moment had passed”:
“There was a time maybe seven or eight years ago when I was gonna come back for a couple Spider-Man movies, after they’d done their first Amazing Spider-Man. On the very first Spider-Man I sort of planned out what I thought the first three movies should be, and then all the assorted personalities it didn’t work for me to keep writing the Spider-Man movies… So I was excited to come back and try to finish the story I started telling in the first one, and as we were about to agree that I was going to do that, I pulled out all the old stuff and I started outlining those two movies and I thought, ‘Boy, you can’t go home again. That moment has passed. The time when I was really feeling it was 10 years ago, and there’s no point in trying to recreate it.’ So I bailed.”
Sony did tackle the Gwen Stacy storyline in the Amazing Spider-Man films, but they assembled a writers room to plot out Amazing Spider-Man 2, a further sequel, and various spinoffs like a Sinister Six movie and a Venom movie (not the Tom Hardy one). But when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was poorly received by audiences and critics, Sony changed courses, scrapped those franchise plans, and struck a groundbreaking deal with Marvel Studios to reboot the franchise under their creative stewardship with Tom Holland.
Koepp, meanwhile, moved on and most recently wrote and directed the thriller You Should Have Left, which is being released on PVOD on June 18th.
Look for much more from our interview with Koepp—including the full episode of Collider Connected—on Collider soon.