Director Sam Raimi has imagined a host of alternate realities in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But on the press tour for the latest MCU film, Raimi has given fans a glimpse of a different world that almost came to be, one in which he joined Sony to make a fourth Spider-Man movie with Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker and Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson. As Raimi began developing the project following 2007’s Spider-Man 3, rumors circulated that Maguire would star opposite John Malkovich as Adrian Toomes aka the Vulture. But the bigger questions surrounded Raimi’s longtime partner Bruce Campbell. Who would he be in a fourth Spider-Man film?
Raimi partially answered that question in an interview with Rolling Stone. Among the regrets he has for the canceled film, the biggest might be losing the “really great cameo we had designed for Bruce Campbell.” When the magazine brought up Quentin Beck aka Mysterio, also rumored as the fourth movie’s villain, Raimi responds in the affirmative. “That was one of the possibilities,” he admits, with some clarification. “We had other things in mind, too, but that was one of them.”
If Campbell were to don the villain’s fishbowl helmet, he would have continued his tradition of playing nemeses who complicate the life of Peter Parker. Campbell first appeared in 2002’s Spider-Man as the wrestling ring announcer who forced Peter to change his moniker from “the Human Spider” to “the Amazing Spider-Man.” In the 2004 sequel, Campbell plays a strict theater usher who refuses to allow Peter late entrance into Mary Jane’s performance in The Importance of Being Earnest. Spider-Man 3 finds Campbell returning as a snooty waiter who undermines Peter’s attempt to propose to Mary Jane.
A friend of Raimi’s since his boyhood in Michigan, Campbell was the director’s first leading man. The two got their start making Evil Dead together, which starred Campbell as loser-turned-groovy-hero Ashley J. Williams. Even as the two separated to pursue different projects, Raimi found a way to work Campbell into most of his films, even if it’s dubbing the sound of Liam Neeson getting punched in Darkman.
While Spidey-fans can mourn the loss of Campbell’s Mysterio, few would complain about Jake Gyllenhaal’s take on the character in Spider-Man: Far From Home as a bitter ex-Stark employee. The same can be said of the Adrian Toomes who finally made it on screen, played with delicious malevolence by Michael Keaton in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
But in his conversation, Raimi focuses on a different villain for his fourth outing with Spidey. “I missed Kraven the Hunter,” Raimi told the magazine. “I always wanted to see Kraven fight Spider-Man on the big screen.”
Although it seems unlikely that he’ll be battling Spider-Man, Kraven will make it to the big screen in next year’s Kraven the Hunter movie, directed by J.C. Chandor and starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Until then, we can enjoy the other alternate worlds Raimi has for us when Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness releases on May 6.