James Cameron's Cancelled Spider-Man Movie Art Surfaces Online (Photos)

By Richard Nebens Updated:
Spider-Man James Cameron

While James Cameron is currently making headlines with his work on Avatar: The Way of Water, fans also have a look into what he was planning for Marvel's Spider-Man.

Cameron is known for his incredible success in blockbuster movie franchises, although he's largely been absent from the superhero game as Marvel and DC continue to climb to new heights. However, at one point in the mid-1990s, the writer/director had written a script for an R-rated Spider-Man film, for which he was considering casting future Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio for Peter Parker and Arnold Schwarzenegger for Doctor Octopus.

This Spider-Man movie would have provided a darker look into Peter's origin story after he experiences the classic spider bite, balancing his high school life and superhero responsibilities as every take on Peter Parker must do.

Now, while Cameron celebrates another billion-dollar box-office hit with Avatar 2, a couple of pieces of concept art have circulated online highlighting his ideas for Marvel's web-slinger 30 years ago.

James Cameron's Spider-Man Concept Art Surfaces

Two new pieces of concept art from director James Cameron have been circulating online after being shared on social media by SlashFilm's Chris Evangelista, featuring Cameron's take on Spider-Man from a canceled solo movie in the 1990s. 

The drawings, which Cameron created himself, come from his 2021 book, "Tech Noir: The Art of James Cameron." 

Although the details are hard to see, the white eyes of Spider-Man's mask shine, as his look is replicated fairly accurately from the comics. Some of the webbing on his suit can be seen running down his left arm, as he climbs the side of a New York City building with just a hint of blue seen on his leg.

Spider-Man, James Cameron
Tech Noir: The Art of James Cameron

The same image is replicated with a dark blue hue, making the eyes on Spidey's mask pop even more prominently against his darker suit. It's unclear if Peter would have donned a black suit that's been utilized in the comics and other movies or if this is just a different look at the original image.

Spider-Man, James Cameron
Tech Noir: The Art of James Cameron

Cameron recently touched on the Spidey project to Comicbook, in relation to comments made about the possibility of foraying into the comic book movie landscape.

The Avatar director noted his "personal love" for Spider-Man, though stated that the character has already been in good hands with other directors at the helm:

"I have no interest in directing a comic book film... I had an interest in Spider-Man, but that was a unique thing. A personal love of Spider-Man. But, that ground has been very well-served by other people."

Cameron previously spoke to Screen Crush about what his take on Spider-Man would've looked like, calling it a "gritty" take on the character:

“I wanted to make something that had a kind of gritty reality to it,” he noted. “Superheroes in general always came off as kind of fanciful to me, and I wanted to do something that would have been more in the vein of Terminator and Aliens, that you buy into the reality right away. So you’re in a real world, you’re not in some mythical Gotham City. Or Superman and the Daily Planet and all that sort of thing, where it always felt very kind of metaphorical and fairytale-like. 

Above all, the director wanted his version to be grounded in reality, with Peter having to deal with issues like his super suit:

"I wanted it to be: It’s New York. It’s now. A guy gets bitten by a spider. He turns into this kid with these powers and he has this fantasy of being Spider-Man, and he makes this suit and it’s terrible, and then he has to improve the suit, and his big problem is the damn suit. Things like that. I wanted to ground it in reality and ground it in universal human experience. I think it would have been a fun film to make.”

Would James Cameron Ever Direct Spider-Man?

While these two images only show a small tease of what Cameron would have done with Marvel's web-slinger, the idea of seeing a Spider-Man movie under his direction has many wondering what could have been. Particularly with the director's success on other iconic '90s blockbusters like Terminator 2 and Titanic, a darker take on Marvel's most popular hero is something that surely would've had fans interested.

This also came during a time when the superhero genre wasn't anything like what it is today, as Wesley Snipes' Blade was still a few years from debuting and setting a new standard for comic book movies. However, Cameron has always been one to push the standard for what movies can do from a visual standpoint, which makes the idea of a Spider-Man movie interesting if he could have brought the web-swinging and wall-crawling to life on the big screen.

Now, with three different iterations of Spider-Man having hit theaters in the 21st century, fans can only look back to pieces like this when imagining what Cameron would have done with this more mature Spidey outing. While he likely won't direct a superhero project in the future, perhaps the wallcrawler could turn Cameron's head if he ever gets a moment away from the Avatar franchise.

Avatar: The Way of Water is now playing in theaters worldwide.

- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.