It’s no secret that Spider-Man 3 is universally despised in comic book circles, but the truth is that the movie made over $850 million worldwide, leaving Sony with no reason to fire director Sam Raimi at the time. In 2009, production on Spider-Man 4 began with Raimi, his collaborators, and the studio throwing around ideas about where to bring the franchise next.

The proposed storyline would have featured John Malkovich as the villainous Vulture and Anne Hathaway playing Felicia Hardy, who was changed from the Black Cat of the comics into a Vulture henchwoman named the Vultress. The rough plan was for the fourth film to shoot in 2010, with a 2011 release date in mind. Pre-production started and some photography tests were taking place in New York to work out the kinks of a new camera system designed to shoot the movie’s action sequences in a more kinetic way.

Unfortunately, the 2011 release date didn’t sit well with Raimi, who wanted more breathing room after the studio’s heavy hand made him compromise his vision on Spider-Man 3. With acrimony growing on both sides, Raimi left the project and the studio moved forward with The Amazing Spider-Man reboot, which it had actually been developing behind the scenes the whole time for just this scenario. Sure, the reboot wasn’t all that awful, but we can’t help but wonder what else Raimi could have brought to the franchise he turned into a global phenomenon.