Back when Spider-Man 4‘s production was moving along relatively well John Malkovich was in talks to join the film as The Vulture. Director Sam Raimi had wanted the winged villain to appear in previous Spider-Man movies, and it seemed he was finally going to get the chance to introduce the character as Peter Parker’s foe in Spider-Man 4. That was, of course, until the film was scrapped.
Since then Malkovich has moved on and recently signed up to appear in Transformers 3, however in a recent interview he spoke of his disappointed about the situation, and suggested that The Vulture may have actually been a reason for the films demise.
Well, I think a lot of the people who sort of follow that genre… I’m not sure, I never really spoke with Sam about this, but I’m not sure they — maybe the kind of fanbase, the fanboys — either didn’t approve of that character as an adversary for him to some extent…or maybe the studio. Or maybe that was totally unrelated to why it fell apart.”
I then told him the fanboys and online community were extremely excited that he was going to be the Vulture. So was he disappointed when the project fell apart?
“Yes [I was disappointed],” he says. “But because I like Sam and I like Toby [Maguire] and all that stuff, and the producers, two of whom I’d met before because I’d been offered the first [film] … I came to like them, so sure why not? But it didn’t play out.”
In case you were unaware, he was offered Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man.
Malkovich’s statement seems to back up what New York Magazine’s Vulture blog (funnily enough) suggested in February:
Condensed, it went something like this: Peter Parker gets over MJ, finds a new girl, falls in love. But: Peter also discovers her father is actually the Vulture, a naughty green guy with wings to be played by John Malkovich. Peter is torn between the love of his new lady and taking down the Vulture. Being a Spandex tight-ass, he decides to take down the Vulture, and kills him. This patricide goes down poorly with Peter’s new fiancée, and she rejects him. Despondent, Peter decides to abandon his superpowers, and Movie No. 4 ends with Peter Parker throwing away his Spider-Man mask, and audiences wondering if they are watching Superman II.
Sony’s execs didn’t much care for this dour story line, and its consumer-products division especially detested the villain who, let’s face it, is pushing 60. (But hey, John Malkovich, from one Vulture to another, we think you look great! Really!) Columbia’s toy partner, Hasbro, also worried that suggesting its main character was packing it in might hurt future toy sales. And these days, toys are a key revenue stream, and demand far more forethought than that given to the scripts of $200 million movies.
I was actually looking forward to Spider-Man 4 but maybe the film falling apart was a blessing in disguise. The script underwent numerous re-writes and Raimi and Sony were having disagreements over the story, casting and budget. Sony also hired James Vanderbilt to write the reboot while Spider-Man 4 was in production as a back-up plan in case the film didn’t go ahead, and in the end they chose the (less expensive) reboot.