As you undoubtedly know by now, Spider-Man 4 is no more. It was killed at some point yesterday afternoon, roughly a day or so after John Malkovich was happily awaiting his final Vulture script. It was one of the weirdest turnarounds I've ever seen in the time I've hung around online moviedom, particularly since I continued to receive comments gleefully extolling the virtues of Vulture.
Of course, it isn't just that Spider-Man 4 isn't happening. Movies crumble all the time. It's that Sony has declared the end of one Spider-Man and the beginning of another. The corpse of one franchise isn't even cold in its grave before they've planned to reboot the entire thing. It makes Fox's plans to reboot Daredeviland the Fantastic Four seem the soul of patience and discretion. Even the most jaded critic, analyst, or fan has a pretty sour taste in their mouth right now. It isn't just a matter of what this franchise has come to, but what blockbuster filmmaking has become.
This is an ugly, ugly new world -- and it wasn't born yesterday. Sony had plans to reboot Spider-Man even before part four fell apart. When James Vanderbilt came aboard in August, it was already speculated that Sam Raimi wouldn't return for installments 5 and 6. Sony planned on turning those into some kind of franchise reboot in order to remake the series and keep it going with a new Peter Parker. At the time, fans were supportive of that idea. Will they be so now, after they've become invested in Raimi, Tobey Maguire, and all the John Malkovich and Anne Hathaway possibilities? I don't know. I'm curious to watch the ripple effect today and find out.