In fewer than two decades, the Spider-Man franchise has already amassed a history of stops and restarts. But the most surprising were the sudden cancellations of Amazing Spider-Man 3 and the spin-offs planned to follow. It was confusing and strange, but there's an interesting story behind why the sequel to a successful movie got tossed in the garbage.


After Sam Raimi's withdrawal from Spider-Man 4 because of studio interference, among other things, Sony Pictures decided to reboot the franchise. The new series starred Andrew Garfield and relatively new director Marc Webb. It was a bold move for Sony, since Raimi and Tobey Maguire's collaborations were proven box-office draws. However, the studio wanted someone younger in the role of Peter Parker, feeling the story of Spider-Man is the story of “a boy trying to become a man,” according to Collider. While some fans expressed sadness over the loss of Maguire, they were happy there was going to be another Spider-Man movie of some kind. Plus, we wouldn't have to look at that weird, confused expression Maguire makes when he's acting.


So 2012 came, and so did Amazing Spider-Man. The movie had a decent story, moving away from the goofiness of Raimi's interpretation of the character and going for something a little more serious and grounded in the real world. It also had an impressive cast: Denis Leary as Captain Stacy, and Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Plus, there's no denying that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are a much more attractive pairing than Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire. The movie did well commercially, grossing almost a billion dollars, and set a record for the all-time highest-grossing reboot. It even garnered some impressive critical attention. In fact, in one of his final reviews, Roger Ebert said that it was the “second best” of the Spider-Man franchise. Sure, second-best doesn't sound that impressive, but it's not like he said it was godawful. So the reboot was off to a decent start!


Of course, there was a sequel. Like most sequels, it didn't perform as well with the critics as the first movie. It pulled in about the same amount of money, however, but the reviews weren't as kind as theater goers' wallets. The general consensus was that, while Garfield, Stone, and everyone else in the cast did a good job, there was just too much going on. As a result, the movie came off as something of a muddled mess. Still with all that went wrong with it, it wasn't bad enough to earn any Razzie nominations. And it did well enough that not only had the studio planned to make more sequels, but spin-offs too.


Sony's plans for Amazing Spider-Man 3 and 4 were pretty crazy. According to various websites, the plan involved not only resurrections for both Gwen Stacy and her father, but also Gwen becoming something like the Spider-Gwen character who has since debuted in the comics in 2015. (For those not familiar with the comics, “Spider-Gwen” is basically, “Gwen Stacy, but with the powers of Spider-Man. And is from another dimension.”) To add to that, Sony also planned some villain-centric films as well: Sinister Six and Venom. Casting villains in the lead role isn't something that gets done a whole lot, especially not in comic book movies, making it a pretty controversial—yet interesting—move on Sony's part. There were even rumors that Felicity Jones might get her own spin-off as Amazing Spider-Man 2's Felicia Hardy, aka Marvel Comics' Black Cat, but that was probably speculation. Sony's plan was to create their own universe to compete with, or be something akin to, Marvel's cinematic universe, while using Marvel's own characters, ironically enough. Still, the ideas were all intriguing. But then, seemingly overnight, those plans got scrapped.

Amazing Spider-Man 3 and 4 were both planned and even had release dates: June 10, 2016 and May 4, 2018, respectively. Paul Giamatti also confirmed that he'd return as the Rhino for the third movie, according to Collider. But then the movies began to get delayed. Also, Marc Webb, a huge part of the first two films success, stated that he'd only return to direct the third film and only act as consultant for the fourth, which wasn't a good sign. Ultimately, all of the planned movies got cancelled. It was also strange that the studio, which had all of these big plans for the character, would suddenly ditch their plans. It'd be one thing if they delayed everything or put the plans on hold. That'd just mean the right script hadn't been found or there was a technical issue or scheduling conflict holding things up. But a cancellation meant something bigger was going on.


The Sony hacks from late-2014 revealed a lot about the sudden changes with their Spider-Man franchise. According to some of the stolen and leaked emails, even though Amazing Spider-Man 2 was still better than any of the Transformers movies, the lukewarm reviews it received were enough to spur Sony into taking the character in another direction. This decision was made primarily by the new regime that took over after former studio head Amy Pascal stepped down. Subsequently, this new direction involved the hiring of another actor to play the role of Peter Parker, Tom Holland. The hiring of Holland, the youngest actor to take the role so far, suggested a desire to keep Parker young. Sony didn't want him to be an adult struggling to make it in the real world. Nor did the studio want him to be a young adult. They want Spider-Man to remain young, a snot-nosed punk even. But this wasn't the only big news to come from the hacks…


According to documents made public by the hacks, Sony worked out a deal with Marvel to bring Spider-Man into Marvel's cinematic universe. Fanboys and fangirls around the world squealed in delight. Since then, it's been revealed that Spidey would make his debut in a big way, as part of Captain America: Civil War. This puts Spidey in line to participate in Marvel's climactic Avengers: Infinity War movies, something a lot of fans, Hugh “Wolverine” Jackman included, want to see. But while all this is great news, it's not the only thing the hacks revealed.


Andrew Garfield helped pave the way for this new direction for Spider-Man. It's also the actual reason plans for Amazing Spider-Man 3 got canceled. According to a series of emails obtained by Showbiz411, Garfield was supposed to attend a gala after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where he'd have been announced as the star of Amazing Spider-Man 3 by Sony bigwig Kaz Hirai, but Garfield cancelled at the last minute. Garfield most likely cancelled due to feeling under the weather from the long flight there, which is understandable. But still, Hirai felt slighted. And some of the execs not only agreed, but felt that it was a slight against the company as well. So Garfield was out. A man lost a job because someone's feelings got hurt. That's professionalism! And the old Parker luck in action…