Sam Raimi first made his name – in the realm of Marvel moviedom, at any rate – with his 2002 big screen adaptation of Spider-Man. But things could easily have gone very differently. In the wake of Stan Lee’s death earlier this week, Raimi joined the legions of artists, filmmakers, and fans in paying tribute to the late legend. Among the reminiscences that Raimi shared with the Hollywood Reporter was that of his first professional collaboration with Lee, which came a bit earlier than you might have expected:
“After I did ‘Darkman’, Stan Lee called me and was like, “Hey kid, I liked your movie.” He took me out to lunch and said we should work together. I said I’d like to make a movie about Thor. We worked together writing treatments and took it to Fox and pitched it. And they said, “Absolutely now. Comic books don’t make good movies.” This was in 1991.”
My, how things have changed. In 1991, comic book movies were outliers. The good ones? Even more so. Now though? Well, I don’t have to tell you! Beyond Lee’s longstanding determination to bring Marvel’s heroes to the movies, Raimi’s story highlights the notorious shortsightedness of Hollywood’s shot-callers. After all, the idea that “comic books don’t make good movies” is a bit of an odd one even for the early nineties. While the good ones were certainly fewer and far between in those days, there’s still the phenomenal success given the success of the first two ‘Superman’ movies and the 1989 mega-hit that was Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’. But it also speaks to just how much the specific landscape of superhero movies has changed. Even when the superhero boom kicked off in the wake of ‘X-Men’ and ‘Spider-Man’ some ten years after Lee and Raimi’s attempt at a Thor movie, the eponymous thunder god would still have been considered a long shot. And then, of course, Marvel Studios came along and the rest is history.
Would you have liked to see Sam Raimi’s take on a Thor movie? What might that have looked like? Let us know what you think in the comments and be sure to check back for more as tributes to Stan Lee continue to pour in from every corner of the entertainment industry.