Friday, August 31, 2012

An Excerpt from James Cameron's Spider-Man Script Treatment

(Note: These are all real.)

An arm, wearing red spandex and a red glove, drops down from the roof of the newsstand. The news-guy whirls as the arm slaps two bucks on the counter and grabs a Newsweek. The owner rushes out the door... looks on top of his kiosk. There's nothing there. He looks up, all around... nothing. He grins and holds his fist in the air. 


CUT TO THE FIGURE, atop the WTC. Still hanging. He pulls the Newsweek out of his belt and stares at the cover in the moonlight.

How can I expect them to get it.
I don't even get it.
I do wish they'd at least get my
name right.  It's Spider Man...
not The Spider Man. Jeez. Boneheads.
I need a better publicist.

He rips the magazine easily in half, then in quarters, then in eights... somewhere in here we realize that this takes more strength in the hands than you or I have. He releases the stamp-sized shreds. Camera drifts with them as they flutter down over the city like confetti.

Wouldn't they have kittens if they
knew Spiderman wasn't even a man.
Just a kid named...

yeah they would have kittens, that would be groovy and the bee's knees and the cat's pajamas


CLOSE UP on an elderly lady yelling. "Peter... you're going to be late!" It's morning and she's calling up the stairs to...

PETER PARKER. Age 17. Peter is in the bathroom, popping a zit in the mirror. He puts on his glasses and checks his look in the mirror. Still the same. Nerdy. He doesn't care. Screw 'em.

James, where's the real Peter Parker? Is this like a movie about the Clone Saga or something?

He grabs a big stack of books and heads downstairs. Over breakfast we meet his aunt MAY and Uncle BENJAMIN. Nice people but way too old to be the kind of role-model parents a kid needs. Still, he loves them even if he forgets to actually mention it 99% of the time like any kid. Aunt May is thin and fusses over Peter too much. He indulges her. When he has time, which he doesn't this morning.

I agree, James, I've read a couple of the comics and in no way are Uncle Ben and Aunt May ever good role models because they are just too OLD to understand KIDS. Well, except you, you seem to be doing a great job.

Peter's parents were killed in a plane crash when he was six. He woke up one day without a family. Somehow he always felt guilty that they went away. As if he had done something wrong. His 17 year old mind tells him it was just fate, just a random accident... but deep in his subconscious that scared 6 year old still cries, begging for them to come home... he won't cause trouble anymore... he'll go to bed when they tell him.



Peter is a bright kid. He doesn't have many friends. He is ostracized for his interest in science. Our MTV culture frowns on people who think too much. Intellectual curiosity is decidedly un-hip. Who cares about where the universe came from or how the Greeks hammered Troy? Did you hear the new Pearl Jam album?

Peter is defiant. He thinks they are the real losers. They'll be flipping burgers while he's discovering the cure to cancer.
We'll see who wins in the long run.

He wears his isolation like a badge... with an air of superiority.

James, I want this Peter Parker to get punched in the face. Is that what you're doing here, like a... parody or something? Something that's bad?


He has the 17 year-old's sense that he knows everything about the world, and can see so clearly all the things that are wrong with it. In fact he is very insulated and knows almost nothing about human nature in all its complexity. He doesn't even understand himself very well. Because his life of the mind is his badge of superiority, he frowns on the pursuits of the body.

Sports? Forget it. Bunch of jock boneheads crashing into each other. Like stag elk in rut. Senseless violence. Girls? Good in theory, but how do you talk to them? Dancing? No way. He tried it once. Not a pretty sight.

Peter is a virgin. And apt to remain that way for a while. He's your basic sexually pent-up adolescent.

Thank you for clearing that up James, it really helps me understand the character better.

Later in the treatment:

At the same time, in some neighborhoods, he is a local
legend. Crime is down, and the friendly neighborhood
Spider Man is a welcome sight. And everybody wants to
claim him.

Black kids think he's black. White kids white. Hispanic etc.

"Spidey man ain't no white dude. He too down. What I'm sayin. You see his moves? He definitely a brother."
"No way, home. My brother knows a guy that talked to him once, man."
Italians say he's Italian.
Gays think he's gay.

Later in the treatment:

Suddenly, Spider Man is there. He trounces the attackers and webs them up. He knows by now that without a crime actually taking place, the cops won't even hold these guys, so all he can do is warn them.

If you worthless chunks of vomit show your faces around here again,
I'll decorate my Christmas tree with your intestines. Got it?

They get it. They're still worthless chunks of vomit, but at least they'll be somewhere else.

He picks Mary Jane up and whisks her through the air, swinging from roof to roof. It is a wild fantasy ride for her... like a dream. He takes her to the top of the top of the world... literally. The stainless steel globe from the '64 World's Fair in Flushing Meadow Park. They sit up there in the moonlight. she melts against him. And with the confidence which the mask gives him... he kisses her... through the fabric. It is a tender, sensuous moment.

James, do you know how masks work

Later in the treatment:

He tracks the guy down to a warehouse and goes in to get him. Peter drops into the room with the guy... who laughs when he sees him.

Well. The fag in tights. We keep bumping
into each other.

It's Spider Man, not The Fag in Tights. Jeez. Bonehead.

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