While Spider-Man: Far From Home will bring Mysterio to the big screen soon, director Sam Raimi almost gave the villain his live-action cinematic debut in a very different film, Spider-Man 4. Raimi's proposed follow-up to 2007's Spider-Man 3 was intended to end his tenure with the Marvel superhero on a high note after the lukewarm reviews to Spider-Man 3 and his own dissatisfaction with the final film.
Raimi and returning star Tobey Maguire both signed on to return for a fourth installment, with James Vanderbilt penning scripts for proposed back-to-back sequels. To make the franchise more cost-effective and easier on scheduling of the cast, Sony had considered filming Spider-Man 4 and 5 simultaneously after the commercial success of The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, along with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, employed a similar production strategy. Ultimately, Sony decided just to proceed with a standalone fourth film, with Raimi hoping to start principal photography in March 2010 for a summer 2011 theatrical release.
While there were rumors that Dylan Baker's Doctor Curt Connors would finally transform into the villainous Lizard for the fourth film, with Baker confirming his participation in the film, it was eventually revealed that the intended main villain of the film was to be the Vulture, portrayed by John Malkovich.. With Kirsten Dunst's return as Mary Jane Watson unclear, Anne Hathaway was approached to portray Felicia Hardy in the film. However, in an interesting twist, Raimi's incarnation of Felicia would not be the Black Cat, as in the comics, but rather reimagined as a similar high-flying figure known as the Vulturess.
Thanks to illustrator Jeffrey Henderson, concept art from the proposed film has since found its way online. It shows proposed aerial battles between Spider-Man and the Vulture. The storyboards even revealed a shot of a dazed Peter Parker falling back down to Earth over Manhattan not unlike Spider-Man's high dive introduction at the beginning of 2014's Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Interestingly, the concept art also shows Spider-Man escorting a handcuffed Mysterio in a New York Police Department precinct, visibly less in shape than Jake Gyllenhaal's portrayal of the character in Far From Home, as Spidey is congratulated by the NYPD for apprehending the criminal.
Determined to make Spider-Man 4 the best film featuring the wall-crawler yet, Raimi admitted that he had problems getting the proposed story up to a level he was satisfied by and the film's eventual cancellation during pre-production had fallen on him.
Instead, he informed Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal to proceed with the studio's plans to reboot the character entirely, amicably walking away from the project, effectively ending Spider-Man 4 as Marc Webb signed on to helm The Amazing Spider-Man from a script by Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt's script for Spider-Man 4 has never leaked online but, based on subsequent interviews from Raimi and the concept art, appeared to have Spider-Man back in the general public's good graces and saving the day. There were proposed changes to the costume to make it appear more faithful to the comics, presumably after Peter's initial fights against the Vulture but final designs likely never proceeded beyond the conceptual design phase.
Instead, the art and comments provide a tantalizing glimpse at what could have been the original swan song to Raimi and Maguire's tenure with the web-slinging superhero.
Opening July 2, director Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Far From Home stars Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon and Martin Starr, with Marisa Tomei and Jake Gyllenhaal.