In the early 2000s, the world was riding high on Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. There was no “MCU”. No complicated, decade-spanning story to understand. There was only Spider-Man against an army of high-tech, sci-fi villains. For a while, it seemed Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise would go on forever as kids snapped up merchandise and tie-ins like there was no tomorrow.
And then Spider-Man 3 changed everything. In an instant, a once-promising franchise went up in flames.
Fans derided the sequel for being too campy and over the top, and the appearance of fan-favourite villain Venom was particularly hated. People wanted grit and drama, and Spider-Man 3 was neither gritty nor dramatic.
The incendiary reaction against the film caused a total rethink of the entire Spider-Man franchise and it had some wild knock-on impacts too, including the cancellation of a Spider-Man tie-in game.
Following the release of Spider-Man 3, there were still tentative plans for a sequel. While the reception for the third film was poor, its box office was still hearty enough to consider a follow-up, and plans appeared to be going full steam ahead at Sony.
From 2008 to 2011, Spider-Man 4 seemed like a done deal, and casting rumours pointed towards the Lizard being a primary antagonist, with Anne Hathaway also in talks for a role as Black Cat / Felicia Hardy. It was new, and it was exciting.
During this time, the Spider-Man 4 license was granted to Radical Entertainment, who’d develop a tie-in game to accompany the upcoming film. According to new information from Obscure Gamers, this tie-in was in development between 2008 and 2010 for the Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Nintendo DS, and would’ve mirrored the rumoured plot of the cancelled fourth film.
While not much was previously known about the Spider-Man 4 tie-in game, new footage reportedly from the Xbox 360 version of the game has just recently made its way to the Obscure Gamers forum.
It’s the first time fans have been able to see the game in action, and while the origin of the footage is unclear, it does match leaked stills and images posted by developers since the game was cancelled nearly a decade ago.
Surprisingly, the game also looks fairly complete.
While NPCs are fairly static and some are greyed out, the actual world of the game looks great and it features moving traffic, a working map and relatively normal physics. Even the Spider-Man model works great in this prototype build, with smooth web-swinging and minimal jankiness.
According to ObscureGamers, this build of the game was partially built on top of Prototype‘s game world, which explains why it looks so finished — but the polished state of the leaked footage makes it even more of a shame that this game never saw the light of day.
Being a movie tie-in, the game’s fate was always entwined with the release of Spider-Man 4, a film that failed to materialise. It’s a real shame on both counts, because the action in the leaked footage looks great and because Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker deserved a better legacy.
Sadly, Radical Entertainment’s Spider-man 4 is just another example of a game we’ll never get to see.
Still, it’s a fascinating look at the effort and passionate at Radical Entertainment, and the closest we’ll ever get to seeing what Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 could have been.
In another universe, Spider-Man 4 redeemed Sam Raimi’s beloved franchise and we got another great Spidey game to boot. In our world all we have left is this footage, and our dreams.