How Many More Spider-Man Sequels Should Tobey and Kirsten Make?

Today's Variety story about the Fantastic Four reboot reminded me of reports that James Vanderbilt, who wrote the first draft of the upcoming, cast-reuniting Spider-Man 4, is scripting Spider-Man 5 and 6 to not only link together but to provide a reboot point for new actors and a new director if necessary. I can't imagine Sam Raimi would come back for Spidey 5 as he's supposed to make World of Warcraft next (then again, I was surprised by his virtually unprecedented decision to helm all four of the Spidey pictures thus far), but should Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst? Let's consider their options.

Both actors are returning for at least Spider-Man 4, another deal that seemed deeply unlikely once upon a time. Maguire famously appeared ready to jump ship on Spider-Man 2 (which would have led to a Jake Gyllenhaal recast) until his wife's father, Universal CEO Ron Meyer, convinced him he'd be pulling a Shelley Long. For her part, Dunst wasn't exactly keen on the idea of doing a fourth sequel during press rounds for the last one.

Here's the thing, though: Both stars have seen their careers wane in the years since Spider-Man 3. Though principal shooting wrapped in 2006, Maguire's completed only one film since then: the Jim Sheridan drama Brothers, which still hasn't come out. All Dunst has released since Spidey 3 was the bomb How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, where she played Simon Pegg's love interest, for some reason. (And let's not even get started on Topher Grace -- Spider-Man 3 is still his only screen credit since leaving That 70's Show. If James Franco wasn't doing so well, we'd start to consider a Spidey 3 curse.)

Both Maguire and Dunst, then, need Spider-Man 4 to provide a jump-start to careers that have languished of late. But do they need Spidey 5 or 6? Maguire probably needs it the least -- he's got plenty of other films in development, and Raimi's likely abandonment of the franchise could give him the clean break he needs.

Dunst, though, could use a few guaranteed Spidey sequels; unfortunately, if Maguire and Raimi jump ship, Sony will probably enact a comprehensive reboot and recast the role of Mary Jane, regardless of Dunst's potential cooperation. By eliminating the franchise's three main players -- Raimi, Maguire, and Dunst -- Sony could shave off star salaries and steep back-end participation, keeping megabudgets manageable. That's why Gyllenhaal, who could command a Maguire-like paycheck at this point, shouldn't expect a call for Spidey 5. (Besides, he's got his own incipient franchise in Prince of Persia.)

And thus, I'm put in the interesting position of caring little about Spidey 4, yet eagerly anticipating the Spidey 5 recasting circus. Who might be approached to suit up and step into Hollywood's biggest sure thing? Let's start the rumors now: Megan Fox as Peter Parker!


  • stolidog says:

    As a hotly not-in-demand actress, Dunst should sign on until she's 80.

  • Kittenhead says:

    Topher Grace had major screen time in that film co-starring Dennis Quaid, Two Corporate White Guys Whining or whatever it was called.

  • Kyle Buchanan says:

    In Good Company. And it came out in 2004, three years before Spider-Man 3.

  • Dimo says:

    I'm not a studio head concerned with keeping a franchise alive, just a moviegoer. Having said that, Spider-man 2 was the zenith of the series for me. Spider-man 3 was a waste of my time, and 4 will not get anymore of it.

  • Colander says:

    I was going to say something like this, but I know well that a dynamite trailer can completely change the buzz going into a picture that nobody thought they gave a shit about.

  • Strange take? says:

    Wasn't Topher Grace also a star of the hit film, "Trafick" by Stephen Soderbergh? Or am I remembering wrong?...
    Also, why does everybody put down "Spidey 3" when it was one of the highest grossing films of all time, and didn't it beat the box office of either the first or second installment on top of that? I thought it was rather creative and showcased Raimi's clever genre-bending edginess and fun sense of humor. Plus Sony tried to reimagine Spidey without Maguire, and they ultimately didn't want to risk it.
    The film is hardly cursed! If so, that's a billion-dollar curse I'd gladly welcome.

  • jamie says:

    I'm sad that Topher Grace has disappeared. Not so much that Kirsten Dunst has, but isn't she doing a Debbie Harry movie?
    I heard that Sam Raimi agreed to do Spidey 4 because he wasn't happy with Spidey 3 and knew he could do better. But I concur with Dimo on everything except the very last part after "and." I hold out hope.

  • Scott says:

    Dunst is the worst part of the Spiderman movies for me. She was fine in the first one, though she is not nearly as attractive as the comic MJ is supposed to be. I would rather they focus more on character development other than the Peter/MJ soap opera that just happens to have a villian in it. The movies so far are Villian introduced, he finds out about Peter's love interest, kidnaps her and Spidey saves her in the finale. Rinse, repeat.

  • Artonio says:

    Hasn't Tobey just recently had kids? I can understand him not doing much between Spidey installments. I'm sure he'll do the 4th one at least. Spider-Man 3 was terrible though, so I'm not sure why I'm even commenting.
    I suppose if Sony finds her too expensive for Spider-Man, Kirsten could always go back to her other franchise and do Bring It On 6 : Bring It Oner.

  • snickers says:

    If Maguire, Snaggletooth and Raimi never returned to the Spider-Man franchise, the cinema world would be a better place.

  • braless wonder says:

    One less than they've already made...

  • Anonymous says:

    Mary Elizabeth Winstead should DEFINITELY be cast as MJ if Dunst is out after SM5.

  • John says:

    More Spiderman movies ? I love Spiderman as much as anyone else does, but please, give it a rest already. I liked the movies and Sam Raimi, but it's still way too Early.
    Spiderman Movies and Terminator Movies are DONE TO DEATH.