Spider-Man is so popular he’s been played by three live-action actors and even inspired an animated series, in which there’s an entire multiverse of them. And yet in each of them his origin story is the same: Peter Parker or Miles Morales or Spider-Ham is bitten by a radioactive spider. But what if he hadn’t been? What if he became a web-flinging do-gooder by other, maybe less ridiculous means? That’s what would have happened had Marvel dug David Fincher’s threatened version, which they did not.
In a sprawling interview with The Guardian (in a bit teased out by The AV Club), the director of Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, and the new hitman saga The Killer recalls being one of the filmmakers who got to pitch their take on Spidey back when Marvel and Sony were rolling out their first big screen iteration. It didn’t go so hot. For one thing, he wanted to skip the whole spider bite aspect.
“They weren’t f*cking interested,” Fincher recalled with a laugh. “And I get it. They were like: ‘Why would you want to eviscerate the origin story?’ And I was like: ‘’Cos it’s dumb?’”
Perhaps, but it’s also evidently not something one messes with, which he gets. “That origin story means a lot of things to a lot of people,” Fincher said, “but I looked at it and I was like: ‘A red and blue spider?’ There’s a lot of things I can do in my life and that’s just not one of them.”
Instead the gig went to another iconoclastic filmmaker, Sam Raimi, who kept the “bitten by a spider” jazz and launched a franchise that couldn’t even be killed by a cheerfully ridiculous montage where Tobey Maguire’s evil Peter Parker does a Tony Manero-style dance through the streets of New York City. Still, one can dream of what could have been.
The Killer, meanwhile, is now in select theaters. It hits Netflix on November 10.