James Cameron Calls His Unmade Spider-Man Film 'The Greatest Movie I Never Made'

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Spins a web, any size, was almost directed by the "Titanic" guy, look out! Here comes the Spider-Man.

Disney's "Spider-Man: No Way Home" debuts in theaters soon, on December 17, 2021, but did you know that there was almost a very different take on the famous webslinger? In his new book, "Tech Noir: The Art of James Cameron," the "Avatar" director explained his ideas for a Spider-Man movie that would have predated Sam Raimi's 2002 adaptation, and called his Spider-Man "the greatest movie I never made." 

Cameron recently sat down with ScreenCrush to talk about his original plan for Spider-Man, and it sounds like it would have been one fascinating film. 

A Very Different Kind of Spider-Man Story

Cameron's plan for Spider-Man would have taken Peter Parker back to his high school years. While that's definitely been done, Cameron wanted to dig deeper into Peter's social awkwardness and loneliness. He also suggested switching Peter's web-shooter technology into a physical, biological power he develops after a radioactive spider bites his hand. Raimi ended up using the idea in his "Spider-Man" in 2002, and eventually, Marvel even tied it into the "Amazing Spider-Man" comics by having Peter Parker turn into a giant spider and give birth to himself. Cameron's idea wasn't quite that strange, but he did want to take Spider-Man in a decidedly darker direction:

"I wanted to make something that had a kind of gritty reality to it. Superheroes in general always came off as kind of fanciful to me, and I wanted to do something that would have been more in the vein of 'Terminator' and 'Aliens,' that you buy into the reality right away. So you're in a real world, you're not in some mythical Gotham City. Or Superman and the Daily Planet and all that sort of thing, where it always felt very kind of metaphorical and fairytale-like. I wanted it to be: It's New York. It's now. A guy gets bitten by a spider. He turns into this kid with these powers and he has this fantasy of being Spider-Man, and he makes this suit and it's terrible, and then he has to improve the suit, and his big problem is the damn suit. Things like that. I wanted to ground it in reality and ground it in universal human experience. I think it would have been a fun film to make."

Cameron's desire to make a more realistic Spider-Man is a far cry from the current status of the franchise, which involves using magic to rip open the multiverse. Instead, he hoped to use Spider-Man as a metaphor for "that untapped reservoir of potential that people have that they don't recognize in themselves. And it was also in my mind a metaphor for puberty and all the changes to your body, your anxieties about society, about society's expectations, your relationships with your gender of choice that you're attracted to, all those things."

It's a darn shame we never got to see Cameron's take on the arachnid-based superhero because his coming-of-age story with a superpowered twist sounds great.