Cameron's 1991 Spider-Man Script Is Dark & Hyper-Realistic, Just What We Love Today

Cameron's 1991 Spider-Man Script Is Dark & Hyper-Realistic, Just What We Love Today
Image credit: Columbia Pictures

James Cameron called his failed Spider-Man film 'the greatest movie I never made,' and it's hard to disagree with that.


  • Spider-Man is probably the most recognizable superhero of all time.
  • Every generation of viewers must have their own Spidey.
  • And for a new reboot, James Cameron's 1990s version, which never saw the light of day, seems perfect.

Spider-Man is arguably the most iconic and cherished superhero ever. His incredible popularity began with the comic books created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and has only grown through numerous TV shows and movies. That's why it is so natural that every new generation of viewers have their own Spidey.

Recent trends in filmmaking call for a non-idealistic, down-to-earth approach to superheroes. And that may mean that the time has come to reboot the Spider-Man franchise. This is where an old idea of James Cameron's could come in handy.

Cameron's Involvement

It's difficult to picture the MCU without Peter Parker nowadays. Yet, there was a time when a Spider-Man film was merely an idea being tossed around by various studios and directors.

Back in the early 1990s, before Spidey swung into theaters, before the MCU took off, and even before the Sam Raimi trilogy or Marc Webb's films, James Cameron had his hands on a Spider-Man project. The renowned director penned a unique scriptment that sadly never saw the light of day because of legal issues.

Ahead of His Time

The scriptment can be found online and makes for a fascinating read. The Avatar creator once revealed to ScreenCrush that he aimed for hyper-realism when writing his take on the Peter Parker story. He wanted to immerse viewers in a world that felt genuine and recognizable from the opening scene to the final frame.

Peter is first and foremost a teenager going through a sudden transformation, so to create this realistic effect, Cameron used a spider bite as a metaphor for the start of transition from childhood to adulthood, including the confusing body reactions. Thus, in one scene, Peter wakes up and discovers his bed covered in web strands, a clear nod to 'wet dreaming.'

In addition, the scriptment features an S&M scene between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, inspired by mating rituals of different spider species. Sprinkle in a couple of F-bombs, plenty of 'shits,' a Kafkaesque transformation from human to arachnid, Leonardo DiCaprio as the main character, Arnold Schwarzenegger donning the metallic tentacles as Doctor Octopus, and Cameron's R-rated vision suddenly seems like the kind of blockbuster we'd eagerly line up for today.

Cameron's Legacy in the Spider-Man Franchise

Unfortunately, it is unlikely the legendary director will ever want to revisit his 30-year-old project. Cameron made it clear in his interviews that he had no interest in directing another film based on comic books. Fans will have to be content with the parts of Cameron's legacy that made it into the Spider-Man franchise.

The details from Cameron's plot that were kept by David Koepp in his script for 2002's Spider-Man include the legendary organic web-shooters and the heart-wrenching scene of Uncle Ben's death as a result of Peter's actions. They both found their way into the Sam Raimi film series and definitely helped to make it iconic.

Sources: Script-O-Rama, ScreenCrush, ComicBook.

Would you like to see James Cameron's version of the Spider-Man story made into a movie?