A Spider-Horror Story Fit for Sam Raimi

Spider-Man has always been my favorite comic book character. As ridiculous as his villains and antics are at times, it’s the humanization of the characters within his books that always intrigued me. The desire to do good, or the desperation to do bad, is something a lot of people can relate to, which helps us see through the brightly colored tights or the antagonists with giant yellow stars on their faces.

I’ve poured over many iterations from comic to cartoon to screen, and I have to say Spider-Man: Homecoming has been my favorite film adaptation. I will never forget the first time I saw Spider-Man on film, however, given to us through the eyes of horror veteran Sam Raimi. His first two Spider-Man films set the tone for future superhero films to come and brought to life Spider-Man’s many abilities such as his Spider-Sense and the utilization of the wirework of cameras swooping through cityscapes to capture the view of Spider-Man’s web slinging.

Homecoming came from Jon Watts, who directed Clown; and my combined love for both the Watts and Raimi iterations and how well done they are makes me believe the best Spider-Man adaptations are by directors who revel in the horror genre. My belief is reinforced in an interview with the chin himself, Bruce Campbell, who said on the DVD for the first Spider-Man that the concept is that of a B-Movie. Guy gets bitten by a spider and gets super powers; that’s like a 50’s movie. All right, Bruce, you got me there.

I would love to have had Sam come back for Spider-Man 4, but I’m ready to continue on with the MCU Spider-Man. The greatest thing about the MCU is each film lends itself to other genres. Guardians of the Galaxy is a science fiction/fantasy, Winter Soldier a spy/espionage film and Dr. Strange a huge fantasy film.  I think it’s time we get a horror style Marvel film; and while there are a myriad of different characters that fit in the horror genre to adapt, I would love to see Sam Raimi make a comeback with a horror themed Spider-Man film. All his flicks flirt with the horror genre, especially his Spider-Man films. As the chin has stated, Spidey fits the horror bill.

With Tom Holland’s version of Spider-Man just beginning, he will be quite busy the next few years in the last Avengers movies of Phase 3 of the MCU. Kevin Feige, producer of the Marvel films, himself has stated that Phase 4 of the MCU will indeed be a new batch of Avengers, and with Spider-Man being the youngest, he’s poised to be the new face of the MCU. What I would love to see in the next few Spider-Man  movies is the introduction of Dr. Curt Connors, aka The Lizard.

We had him in the Andrew Garfield version but that was nowhere near the potential of the character on film and the imagery on a horror scale was completely lackluster compared to the way he is written in the comics and depicted in the art. Raimi set him up for three movies, with a name drop in his original film, introduction in the second film, and as a scientific ally to Peter in his third film. From Homecoming’s after-credit sequence, it’s obvious the next few films will be Sinister Six centric, but what better way to set up Curt Connors than to have him as Peter’s trusted scientific advisor during those next few films that might see an absence of Tony Stark in his life?

The Lizard, much like the Hulk, is Stan Lee’s version of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Connors simply wants to use the DNA of lizards to regrow his missing arm, while his Lizard alter ego wants reptilians to take their rightful place as the superior evolutionary step. To an outsider these are silly concepts, but this character has given us some very heartbreaking and terrifying stories in his constant struggle with the monster within the man. Raimi given the chance could really play with this idea and truly give us some horrifying sequences with this character.

Never in my life had I ever thought of Dr. Octopus as a terrifying villain, but in the sequence wherein we witness the “birth” of Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2, we see through the eyes of each of his arms as they murder all the doctors in the operating room very much like the POV shots in the Evil Dead series. The editing of that sequence is sheer terrifying brilliance, and I can only dream of the monstrous cinematography Raimi could use to bring The Lizard to life.

Raimi could bring the first transformation into a mad scientist like lighting and framework as we would see shadows and hear screaming from Connors as he transforms. It would be like watching a contemporary Universal Monster Movie done right. Our first glimpse, The Lizard’s eyes shining through the darkness. Throughout the film I would imagine Raimi giving us teases to the look of The Lizard with horrifying practical FX body parts, hopefully Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero work, until we come to a final fully formed monstrosity that would face not our hero Spider-Man, but his alter ego the Man-Spider.

My favorite thing in the Raimi films is the parallels between the villains and Peter’s internal struggle. With the first Spider-Man film we saw Green Goblin play on Peter’s fears of being hated by the people he’s sworn to protect, trying to be the antithesis of a good father figure that Uncle Ben was. With the second film, Raimi took the “Spider-Man No More” story arc and mashed it with Doc Ock being a mentor to Peter. He saw himself losing everything as Spider-Man and saw his idol lose everything for his passion, inevitably becoming a villain. These story aspects are what makes Raimi’s films stand out and I believe The Lizard and The Man-Spider are symbolically perfect.

Man Spider

The Man-Spider is a little known version of Spidey that first appeared in “Marvel Fanfare #2” in which Spidey and Angel from X-Men make a trip to the Savage Land where the Mutates, created by Magneto, devolve them both into the basest versions of themselves.  Now of course we can’t use anything X-Men thanks to FOX so I think we take a page from the 90’s “Spider-Man the Animated Series” to properly introduce the Man-Spider into the MCU. The television show combined the concept with a story arc called the “Six Arms Saga” in which Peter has had enough of being Spider-Man due to losing so much in his pursuit of heroism. He concocts a serum with the aid of Dr. Connors that would erase his powers but unfortunately enhances them causing him to grow four more arms. In the cartoon, they call the growing of the six arms a, “mutation disease” which eventually leads to the Man-Spider mutation. It takes the combined forces of both The Punisher and Kraven the Hunter to subdue The Man-Spider in the cartoon and cure him.

Taking from both the comics as well as a bit from the cartoon, Raimi could easily have the monstrous horror movie showdown between these two creatures and just like in the cartoon introduce Kraven the Hunter to stop them both. If given the proper build-up of Dr. Connors in the MCU, by the time Phase Four or even Five rolls around, he could be an established beloved character in the MCU.  Introducing the mental devolution of Peter into the Man-Spider in horrifying dreams of devouring people on the street, much like in A Nightmare on Elm Street where Jesse watches himself murder people as Freddy Krueger, would be a great parallel to the devolution of Connor’s psyche. Peter growing multiple arms and going to Connors could be the catalyst that forces him to continue his research turning him into The Lizard.

Sergei Kravenoff could be introduced early on as someone coming to town to hunt down the infamous Spider-Man, giving Raimi another playground of horror as a Hills Have Eyes filming style could be utilized to show Kraven hunting Spider-Man. Think of the amazing themes Michael Giacchino could conduct for Kraven and The Lizard that could send chills down your spine. The atmosphere Raimi and Giacchino could create for all of these characters to interact would be the stuff of nightmares! Bringing a showdown between The Lizard and Man-Spider befitting of two titans of terror! It would take Kraven the Hunter to step in and defeat them. Of course there are a ton of protagonists that could be set up over the next couple of films to cure Spider-Man and The Lizard before Kraven completely murders them. We’ve already had The Prowler, Miles Morales and Ned set up in Homecoming with the possibility of scientist Liz Allen, a scientist who messes with Spider DNA constantly, coming soon, all of which could continue to aid Peter and help cure both him and Connors by the end of the film.

I’d love to see Raimi return to a film genre he helped pioneer and in turn conjoin it with a genre that helped make him and Bruce Campbell king. The return of the usual Raimi suspects could help populate the MCU; and just as at one point Bruce was going to play Mysterio, I have enough faith in the man to reign in his goofy side to bring Kraven the Hunter to life!

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Freddy Ruiz

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