In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the director spoke openly about his career highs and lows and the joys and challenges of stepping back into the Marvel universe with the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
During the lengthy discussion, Raimi revealed the thing he missed most about the Spider-Man movie that never was — “the really great cameo we had designed for Bruce Campbell.”
Campbell, whose history with Raimi stretches back decades and includes the duo’s work on Evil Dead (1981) and Evil Dead 2 (1987), previously appeared (albeit briefly) in all three of Raimi’s Spider-Man films opposite franchise star Tobey Macguire. Raimi teased his plans to give Campbell a narrative upgrade in the fourth installment, confirming long-standing rumors that he was to take on the role of iconic villain Mysterio. In the MCU, Mysterio was played by Jake Gyllenhaal in 2019’s Spider-Man: Far from Home.
“That was one of the possibilities,” Raimi said. “We had other things in mind, too, but that was one of them.”
Following the release of Spider-Man 3, Raimi had been working on the fourth entry in his successful box office franchise. This chapter was ultimately scrapped following production delays and numerous script changes. That eventually led to a reboot of the comic book superhero with Andrew Garfield taking over the mantle.
During the interview, Raimi also expressed that he “missed” the opportunity to explore Kraven the Hunter, the son of a Russian aristocrat who becomes a big game-hunter. Known as one of the web slinger’s most formidable foes in his rogues’ gallery, the character is currently slated for his own film, distributed by Sony, directed by J. C. Chandor and starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the title character.
“We were going to work that character into the next Spider-Man; I always wanted to see Kraven fight Spider-Man on the big screen. I thought that would be really unique. He’s the ultimate hunter, and Spider-Man is like the most agile trickster of the skies,” Raimi said.
Beyond his Spider-Man regrets, Raimi talked about those Doctor Strange reshoots and how the script created one of the biggest challenges to his Marvel return.
Speaking about the reshoots The Hollywood Reporter first reported in November 2021, the director explained that they were mostly about adjusting the story after test screenings to help the audience understand what’s happening on-screen physically or conceptually.
“There’s a lot of points where the audience says, ‘I don’t understand this. I don’t understand this concept.’ Or, ‘I’m aware of this concept, and then you explained it again in the third act.’ ‘Oh, you’re right. The audience knows that already.’ Or: ‘They had to know that in order to accept this next story beat,’” Raimi explained. “A lot of it is test screenings, learning what is confusing on a complex picture like this, or learning things that have overstayed their welcome.”
He went on to say that it’s also about recognizing when the story’s pacing is too slow and when the audience doesn’t need something, “even though it’s a proper beat to put in.”
“They can figure that out on their own, so what seemed like a logical step now becomes, in the editing process, ‘Hmm. That’s slowing us down. Let’s skip it and let the audience make the leap themselves,’” Raimi continued. “But it’s also about recognizing what they really like, and sometimes expanding those things that they’re really reacting well to. It’s recognizing what’s original about the picture, and when you’ve got the opportunity to, expanding upon that.”
While that might have seemed the most challenging part of the movie’s process, Raimi said it was “being halfway into [filming] and not knowing what the ending was.”
“Michael’s trying to stay a couple days ahead of us with the next page coming out of his computer printer, and it’s hard because you want to make sure that everything is supporting the whole — that the themes are running through the picture,” he continued. “But when you don’t quite know everything about the picture, it’s hard to do that job as effectively as possible.”