There is the inevitable temptation while working on a sequel to do more and more in order to trump the prior films. Make it flashier and flashier. Fill in the sides. Soon the film becomes so bloated that it sinks beneath its own weight. I don’t necessarily need to tell you the problems with Spider-Man 3; there have been enough autopsies done that the problems have been well-covered. What is worth a discussion is what that means for Spider-Man 4.
Raimi is a talented filmmaker, but some filmmakers abstain from any self-correction, especially when it pertains to a series that is ostensibly bigger than any one man. But at least, according to the Coventry Telegraph, Raimi is committed to fixing the problems. As well as admitting that the profusion of villains detracted from the experience, he also talked about the lessons he learned from Drag Me to Hell:
“I think I’ve learned about the importance of getting to the point and the importance of having limitations, and I’m hoping to take that into a production where I’m actually allowed to explore with more of the tools to pull it off with a little more splendour.”
In another interview with MTV, Raimi discussed potential villains, though, of course, he was non-committal. “I love the Lizard,” said Raimi. “There’s a great story there in the Marvel comic books about Dr. Connors. I’m less familiar with Carnage.” He went on to say:
“What we’re trying to do right now is really understand the journey Peter is going to go on this time and have the villain maybe be a counter to that growth, something that he has to overcome. Or maybe he has to grow in a way to overcome the villain, because there always seem to be stories of coming of age, of a young man growing up and learning things about life, so once we are identifying the exact movement that Peter has to grow to, I think the villain—and we’re trying this right now; we’re trying to choose a villain based on who would be the proper counter to that growth, so we really have dramatic conflict.”
We can always wonder what could have been had they been more forward-thinking and committed to a longer story arc like they seem to be doing with Spider-Man 5 and 6 (which Raimi says are too far away to think about), but the damage has been done. All Raimi can do is take the franchise in a different direction and hope to avoid further landmines.