Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 4 Is A Box Office Gamble Too Good Not To Take

22 years ago, Sam Raimi helped prove just how big superhero movies could be with his first "Spider-Man" movie. Starring Tobey Maguire, the film broke box office records and kicked off the biggest individual superhero franchise around. Raimi and Maguire united for two more movies, with 2007's "Spider-Man 3" rounding out the trilogy with mixed results. The original plan was for the two to reunite on a fourth film that never came to pass. Instead, Sony opted to reboot the series with Andrew Garfield headlining "The Amazing Spider-Man" films. But everything old is new again. Recently, talk of "Spider-Man 4" kicked up and, while nothing has been made official, the time feels right. Truthfully, it might be a now or never situation.

To be clear, much of the talk surrounding a proposed "Spider-Man 4" is generated almost entirely from the rumor mill and appears to be based on next to nothing concrete. However, Raimi was asked about it recently during WonderCon and, even though he made it clear it's not happening, he certainly didn't seem opposed to the idea. Ultimately, that decision would rest on Sony's shoulders, as they control the "Spider-Man" franchise. Yes, they have a deal with Marvel Studios that allows for Tom Holland's Spider-Man to exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but, seemingly, if Sony wanted to make this movie happen, they could make it happen, regardless of what Marvel Studios has in mind for the future. That's the beauty of the multiverse as it currently exists.

Speaking of the multiverse, that's really what has allowed this conversation to take place at all. Because Maguire united with both Holland and Garfield on screen in "Spider-Man: No Way Home," it re-opened the door for him to return to his corner of the multiverse. Meanwhile, Raimi made one of the biggest movies of the pandemic era with "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," a movie that grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide.

The time to strike is right now

That has, in effect, put all of the necessary pieces back on the board. Not for nothing, but Kirsten Dunst recently said in an interview with Marie Claire that she would be game to return for another superhero movie, even if it seemingly has more to do with the money. Even so, that would bring Maguire's Mary Jane back into the picture. My read on it is that Sony has far more to gain by pursuing this movie than they have to risk.

Raimi's original "Spider-Man" trilogy collectively grossed more than $2.5 billion worldwide. More than that, it paved the way for a franchise that has earned just shy of $9 billion globally. "Spider-Man 3" left a sour taste in a lot of mouths so it's difficult to say what "Spider-Man 4" might have done around 2011 when it would have hit theaters before it fell apart. That said, it's been long enough now that the nostalgia factor has kicked in. We've had no shortage of Spider-Man on the big screen, but there is a specific fondness for Raimi's films and Maguire's take on the character.

To that end, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" made an astonishing $1.9 billion at the box office in late 2021/early 2022, proving that such hits were still possible in the pandemic era. The inclusion of Maguire (and Garfield for that matter) is a huge part of that movie's success. Aside from being a well-executed crowd-pleaser, it was a nostalgia bomb that paid big dividends. It also might have increased the appetite for another adventure in the Marvel universe as directed by Sam Raimi starring Tobey Maguire. There's a reason these rumors make the rounds online so frequently. Put simply, it's something people want to see. So why not try and make it happen?

The superhero bubble is about to burst (if it hasn't already)

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that Sony hasn't tried to make "Spider-Man 4" happen already. Holland's fourth film still hasn't happened yet and, for the time being, it doesn't seem like it's all that close to happening. After the success of "No Way Home," they could have made another Maguire/Raimi movie, or even "The Amazing Spider-Man 3" (which would have also made some sense), before getting Holland to come back for another go-around. Be it for contractual reasons or creative ones, that didn't happen. Now, the window of opportunity may be closing.

2023 showed us that superhero movies are no longer going to be presumed successes. "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" was the only outright successful live-action superhero movie last year. Everything else either fully flopped or at least disappointed against expectations. However, "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" was a big success, once again proving that franchise's value. The future is going to rely on more surefire bets to allow superhero movies to continue to exist. It's harder and harder to launch brand new franchises. But tried-and-true ones like "Batman" and "Spider-Man" can keep audiences coming, if the movies are good.

Doing a fourth film that would reunite Raimi and Maguire would be another perfect nostalgia play, and one that could work as a bit of an insurance policy for Sony. To put it lightly, movies like "Madame Web" aren't working. Holland isn't going to want to play Spidey forever. The studio needs new ways to squeeze juice out of its biggest franchise. It seems to me that giving Raimi the chance to finish what he started all those years ago is one way to do that. It sure as heck seems like a safer bet than pursuing the next "Morbius."

It's time for redemption

Tobey Maguire is 48. Sam Raimi is 64. They're not getting any younger and with the superhero movie bubble on the verge of popping, Sony needs to act now if they have any interest in making this happen. And given that the floor for a live-action "Spider-Man" movie at the box office is around $700 million, they should have more than a little interest in doing it.

The lowest-grossing live-action movie in this franchise is "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," a movie that made $709 million worldwide against a $200 million budget. Back in 2014, that was just disappointing enough to open the door for Sony to make a deal with Disney and Marvel Studios while canceling plans for two more Garfield-led films. In the pandemic era, just about any studio in town would take those returns. It's amazing how much can change in 10 years. This to say, if there's one superhero franchise out there that's still worth betting on, it's this one.

In some ways, "No Way Home" was a bit of a redemption arc for both Maguire and Garfield, who didn't get to leave the franchise on their own terms. But it would seem fitting to let Raimi and Maguire truly give their iteration of this series a proper send-off. If the superhero landscape is going to dry up in the coming years, it would be sort of poetic to have come all the way back around to this dynamic duo. And, not for nothing, if all goes well, it could be a $1 billion hit, if history tells us anything.

Your move, Sony.