According to the latest news from Yahoo! Finance, Spider-Man 4 is back to the drawing board. The plug is being pulled on whatever Sam Raimi might have had in mind for Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and friends. The new target release has been extended to 2012. I would imagine that the title may be "re-imagined" as well. The name "Spider-Man 4" is hardly conducive to the image of a fresh new start.
The Raimi version of Spider-Man 4 hadn't entered production yet, and there had been rumors of a the project being "on hold", though these were denied by the studio. The ongoing momentum version of events was supported by the news only a day or two ago that John Malkovich had been cast as the Vulture (despite his earlier negative reaction to the Green Goblin role).
But it seems the in fact there was substance to those rumors of internal wrangling causing thing to stall. And now it appears we're getting an "Ultimate Spider-Man" style revamp with a James Vanderbilt script. The new approach is described as "a teenager dealing with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises". Perhaps they imagine they're being innovative, and so I hate to be the one to point out that the "human superhero" is exactly what Spider-Man has been about since 1962.
Personally, I enjoyed all three movies (especially the second one). But I'm not sad to see a new beginning. I was never entirely convinced that Tobey and Kirsten were perfect for the key roles. Tobey always seemed a bit too soft-faced and goofy for my liking, while Kirsten never really pulled off the "fiery, tough, independent, supermodel party-girl" role particularly convincingly. Still, there's no denying the fantastic supporting cast, the ground-breaking CGI, the highly capable directing, and the solid script-writing.
Certainly, I think Sam Raimi set the bar pretty high for whatever comes next for Spider-Man at the movies... and now we can start all over again speculating on what is yet to come. I wonder if John Malkovich is still waiting by the phone?