With Spider-Man 3 unpopular with fans of the franchise, but still having made Sony a lot of money, Sam Raimi was set to helm a fourth Spider-Man film, for release in 2011.
Raimi admitted that Spider-Man 3 had problems and that he’d learnt from his mistakes. Raimi claimed that unlike the first two films he lacked control on the third and was forced to make choices he didn’t want to. Raimi was given more control on Spider-Man 4. James Vanderbilt was hired as writer, but while Columbia and Marvel like Vanderbilt’s ideas, Raimi didn’t. Initially, David Lindsay-Abaire and later Gary Ross were hired to rewrite it.
Initially, Raimi suggested that he was interested in progressing the Lizard story hinted at in Spider-Man 2 & 3. Lindsay-Abaire says that his script featured Kraven as the villain. John Malkovich confirmed that he was casted as the villain Vulture. Anne Hathaway auditioned for the role of Felicia Hardy (Black Cat) although many rumours said that she’d play the Vulture’s daughter the Vulturess. Vanderbilt was rehired by Sony to write Spider-Man 5 & 6, scripts designed to be reboots if Raimi and cast didn’t return for Spider-Man 5.
In January 2010, Raimi decided that he could not meet the 2011 release date and maintain creative integrity and left the film.
Sony then decided to go with the Vanderbilt reboot they already had in place. Hathaway appeared in 2012 The Dark Knight Rises as Catwoman, a performance of which Raimi said, “I’m not surprised, because I loved what she was doing with the auditions for Spider-Man 4.”