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SYFY WIRE Spider-Man

After 'Spider-Man 3' debacle, Sam Raimi had something to prove returning for 'Doctor Strange' sequel

Sam Raimi remembers the hard lessons of Spider-Man 3, which is part of why he returned to superhero movies.

By Matthew Jackson
Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange/Stephen Strange

Much has been made of director Sam Raimi's return to superhero films with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which hits theaters this week and promises to lend plenty of new lore to the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. Raimi, a lifelong comic book fan, was once one of the most prominent superhero filmmakers in the business thanks to his Spider-Man trilogy, but stepped away from the genre for nearly two decades to work on other projects when his Spider-Man 4 plans fell through. It's not lost on him that this feels like an important moment to return, and in a new interview the director reflected on what it's been like to come back to Marvel movies after such a long time away. 

Speaking to Rolling Stone in a wide-ranging chat about Spider-ManDoctor Strange, and much more, Raimi addressed the fallout that came from the disappointing release of Spider-Man 3 in 2007, and how it fueled his original efforts to make a fourth Spider-Man film that would in some way redeem the letdowns of the third installment. 

"It was a very painful experience for me," Raimi said. "I wanted to make a Spider-Man movie to redeem myself for that. [The aborted] Spider-Man 4 — that was really what that was about. I wanted to go out on a high note. I didn’t want to just make another one that pretty much worked. I had a really high standard in my mind. And I didn’t think I could get that script to the level that I was hoping for by that start date."

Raimi spent the years immediately following Spider-Man 3 in development on a fourth film with Tobey Maguire in the title role, but the project was ultimately scrapped in favor of a reboot, and The Amazing Spider-Man followed in 2012. Raimi went on to direct the original horror film Drag Me To Hell and the L. Frank Baum adaptation Oz the Great and Powerful, and continued his work as a producer on films like the 2013 remake of his horror classic Evil Dead and last year's The Unholy

Then came the offer to return to Marvel films with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Raimi saw an opportunity to prove that he could still roll up his sleeves and give us all some comic book movie magic again.

"This one’s really more about having enjoyed the Marvel movies quite a bit and wondering, 'Do I still have what it takes to be able to make those?' I remember how hard it was — it’s like a marathon," Raimi said. "And it’s like, 'Yes, I do have it in me. I’m going to show those kids how to make a superhero picture.' [Laughs.] I’m joking. But it did have something to do with it. Things have changed since I made those Spider-Man films. New technologies, new techniques, and the development of techniques that we had a hand in implementing back in the day into new, bigger and better systems. So it was fascinating to jump back into a superhero movie 20 years after I had made the first Spider-Man."

For more from Raimi, including what he loved about the first Doctor Strange film, what Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen brought to the film, and much more, check out the full interview at Rolling Stone. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is in theaters Friday. 

Multiverse of Madness promises to be Marvel's first proper horror movie. Other upcoming horror films include Firestarter in theaters and streaming on Peacock on May 13, The Black Phone in theaters on June 24 and Jordan Peele's NOPE in theaters July 22.