everything that caused major issues with the Spider-Man 90’s Clone Saga have been butterflied,
Both the speculator boom and Knightfall/Death of Superman seem likely to occur in fashion. Honestly @Pyro had good version of the Clone Saga.
ITTL Mayday actually being born and Peter getting to be a father in the comics (assuming Marvel execs don’t chicken out at the last minute), and Ben Reilly truly taking over as Spider-Man for a few more years, will certainly be interesting.
This relates to @Pyro's version of Clone Saga:

An interesting butterfly for this TL would be to have Milestone collaborating with Marvel:
 
Yeah in OTL this was case partly fuelled by the a) Speculator boom b) Peralman and his minions ringing Marvel for everything it had, c) Knightfall/Death of Superman coming out and Marvel 'needing' a response - none of this seems relevant to the Disney owned Marvel ITTL.
The Death of Superman happened because the original plan was for Lois and Clark to marry, but the higher ups at DC nixed the idea because of the still-in-development Lois & Clark television series because they didn't want to confuse audiences. An exasperated Jerry Ordway (I believe) suggest, "Why don't we just kill him?" The rest, as they say, is history. If the Superman group is allowed to proceed with their original plans, then we will have The Wedding of Superman & Lois as the big event for 1992.

Granted, that will have massive butterflies in itself. Steel and Superboy (Conner Kent) were introduced in Reign of the Supermen and Hank Henshaw became one of Superman's biggest threats so that would leave their fate uncertain. Additionally, that would butterfly the destruction of Coast City and Emerald Twilight.
 
Spider-Man (1991), a Retrospective
From Swords and Spaceships Magazine, July 2012


So once again Spider-Man is getting rebooted. Go figure. But let’s take a moment to appreciate the very first time that Spidey came to the big screen, 1991’s Spider-Man, produced and released by MGM Studios with groundbreaking special effects courtesy of the Disney/Henson Creatureworks. With a then-unknown Seth Green in the title role and some star power via Liam Neeson as the Lizard, the film was a hit and launched a film empire, and a Marvel-DC film rivalry, that remains with us today.

First off, the plot was nothing that would amaze folks too much today. It’s pretty much a bog standard three-act “Peter Parker is an angry, picked-on nerd, Peter gets bitten by radioactive spider, Peter does what he wants as Spider-Man damn the consequences, Peter loses Uncle Ben due to his own arrogance, Peter learns that with great powers comes great responsibility, Peter battles the villain and saves the day, Peter is a humbler hero, but now has to hide his secret identity to protect the people he loves” plot that we’ve seen in various forms over the years. But what made it stand out at the time is that this was mostly new ground for movie audiences in 1991. Because, believe it or not, no one in 1991 but comics nerds really knew that much about Spidey save what he looked like and the basics of his powers (e.g. “shoots webs and climbs walls”). You see, your average 1991 audience member’s only real experience with their Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man was that maybe they saw the Electric Company shorts or reruns of the old cartoons when they were kids.

UNCLE BEN: You’re a man now, Peter, and being a man means gaining new power.

PETER: You have no idea.

UNCLE BEN: But remember, Peter: with great power comes great responsibility.

PETER sighs and rolls his eyes.

Spider-Man
in 1991 was a massive creative risk. Heck, the only reason why MGM head Tom Wilhite even gave Spidey the green light was because of the massive success of the 1989 Warner Brothers Batman, directed by Sam Raimi. Because while superhero films are a dime a dozen today, back in 1991 having your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man on the Big Screen was a Big Deal. And what was an even Bigger Deal were the groundbreaking special effects.

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Yea, not nearly this good, but damned good for 1991 (Image source “that-yandere-life.tumbler.com”)

You see, in 1990 computer effects were still in their infancy and modern chromakey (“green screen”) effects still in their awkward adolescence. Disney and Lucasfilm had experimented with a few added in here and there over the years, but for Spider-Man, Disney effects head Brian Henson, son of Muppets creator Jim Henson, decided to skip evolution and go straight to revolution. He and his team engineered all sorts of amazing rigs and lifts for their “Green Box” studio, including a massive thing they called the Christmas Ornament that could rotate an actor or model in three axes and record the accelerations as vector data. They had a “baldo” body rig that could convert physical motions directly into digital vector wireframes in conjunction with motion capture tech and could even be “replayed” back into scale animatronic models to allow for amazingly lifelike model work without resorting to stop motion. They had also developed advances in digital compositing from their years of animation work that managed to minimize the “halo” and “shimmer” effects that tended to affect chromakey effects of the time (such unintended effects can be readily seen in 1988’s Willow or 1989’s The Judgement of Anubis).

I could go on for hours, but, really, check out the behind-the-scenes effects featurettes on the VCD.

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(Image source “hipcomic.com”)

So, the effects still hold up fairly well today, even if they are obviously dated. There’s still a slight “shimmer” when Spidey swings through the city and the number of big swinging effects is kept to a minimum for exactly this reason. Well, that and the sheer workload of this methodology (reportedly 3 months of work was required for each minute of screen time on the effects). In the end it was the quality and complexity of the motions and how they framed them that make the effects work more than the raw photorealism, and much was accomplished the old-fashioned way, with camera angles, framing, editing, and dolly work rather than computers.

Seen today, Spider-Man still seems to swing effortlessly though the city, fairly realistically embedded into his environment. For the time it was jaw-dropping.

By comparison, the wall-crawling and ceiling-crawling effects were all managed by simple sets and camera tricks, no computers required. An old-fashioned “rotating room” set of the type that let Fred Astaire dance up the walls in 1951’s The Royal Wedding was employed, proving that some effects never die.

The Lizard, meanwhile, is mostly a combination of prosthetics and animatronics, but by this point the Creatureworks had mastered that art, so he holds up extremely well, arguably better than later CG interpretations, though you wonder what they could have done at the time with the CG skin effects ILM perfected just a year later for Death Becomes Her. As an interesting bit of trivia, the Creature Effects were supervised by Muppets alum Richard Hunt in one of his last roles before his illness left him too sick to work.

THE LIZARD breaks through the wall and shrieks at SPIDER-MAN.

SPIDER-MAN: Yeesh, what’s with the commotion, Komodo?

THE LIZARD charges and SPIDER-MAN leaps straight up out of the way just in time as THE LIZARD shatters the desk he was on. SPIDER-MAN now hangs upside down from the ceiling on a web.

SPIDER-MAN: (points) You look familiar. Have we met?

THE LIZARD shrieks and slashes at SPIDER-MAN, who dodges again and again, somersaulting across the ceiling.

SPIDER-MAN: (holds up finger) Wait, I got it: are you my Aunt’s alligator luggage?


And yet what made Spider-Man a blockbuster hit that codified a new era of superhero films was the Joss Whedon screenplay, brought to life by director Frank Oz, who by this point was gaining a brilliant reputation as an effects movie director who also brought lots of heart and humanity to the pictures. The film was full of that quippy, playful dialog, complex characterization, and clever, twisting narrative that is now associated with Whedon and the borderline self-awareness and sense of “the absurd in the normal” that’s become a hallmark of Oz’s work[1]. To play Peter Parker, the teen-turned-superhero, they found young character actor Seth Green. Now a paragon of Geek Culture, Green at the time was best known for small TV roles and commercials[2]. Spider-Man was his first lead role in a film. Despite his youth and relative inexperience, Green gave the role a very naturalistic feel, moving back and forth between angst-ridden teen and friendly but smartassed webslinger.

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Seth Green c1990 (from It) vs Peter Parker (Image sources “IMDB.com” & “quora.com”)

For the villain Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard, they found Dead Poet’s Society lead Liam Neeson, who gave the role the deep pathos and relatability that makes The Lizard such a tragic villain. Neeson would occasionally don the prosthetics for close-ups of The Lizard, which he hated, but most of the fight scenes with The Lizard would be played by the imposing Brian Thompson, who was finding it hard to break out in Hollywood despite the relative success of He Man and so had started falling back on prosthetics work to pay the bills, a “fallback” that would become a career for him.

DR. CURT CONNORS speaks to PETER and his CLASSMATES. In the background DR. OCTAVIUS uses his artificial arms to mix strange liquids behind a glowing force field. CLOSE UP on a tiny spider, that crawls out of the containment field and slips down on a web to the floor.

CONNORS: As you can see, Dr. Octavius is mixing the radioactive substrate into the isolated reptilian DNA samples. The substrate will induce mutations in the genes, which we can then explore for desirable traits like accelerated cell growth.

PETER: (snaps picture) Um…are you sure that randomly mixing radioactive stuff into the blueprints of life isn’t, I don’t know, asking for terrifying consequences beyond all human comprehension?

ZOOM IN on the spider as it climbs slowly up PETER’S leg.

CONNORS: The agricultural industry uses this technique for genetically modified crops all the time and you don’t see any negative effects in your food, do you?

PETER: I’ll ask the rutabaga next time we talk. Ouch! (slaps arm)


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Liam Neeson c1990 vs. Dr. Curt Connors (Image sources “” & “cmro.travis-starnes.com”)

The tragedy of The Lizard is that Dr. Connors is a well-meaning veteran combat medic who lost his arm in battle and is exploring reptile genetics in the hope of developing a way to regrow lost limbs, his own included. He has set up shop in New York with the help of a grant from Oscorp Industries in an Easter Egg. In addition, the film featured Alfred Molina in a cameo as Otto Octavius, who’s working with Connors, using his (as of yet benign) cybernetic arms to mix the radioactive liquid into the reptilian cell samples to induce mutation (in one scene Otto offers to build Connors a prosthetic limb, but Connors insists that only his “true arm” will suffice). Of course, a spider is inadvertently exposed to the radiation and ultimately bites Peter Parker, who is visiting Dr. Connors’ lab on a school trip. Thus, Spider-Man’s powers are ironically bestowed upon him by three of his greatest future enemies.

J. JONAH JAMESON stands behind his desk as phones ring, people run about, and papers are dropped off in big piles, the angry center of a storm of stress. PETER stands by ready to take orders.

JAMESON: Stan, check the police blotter on this…Spider Guy! I’m sure there’s a criminal record! Oswald, find out what
The Times is reporting! Parker, get some incriminating pictures of Spider Guy in the act! If the cops won’t take down this criminal, then we will! (hits desk)

PETER: Um, but what if Spider-Man is actually trying to help pe…

JAMESON: Are you still here, Parker? Get the hell out of my office! (grabs a woman by the arm) And Missy, by all that is holy get to Dick’s Men’s Wear and get me that Seersucker Suit! You can take that…
other suit back to Sears. (quietly to her face) And (ahem) never make that mistake again, do you hear me?

MISSY starts to walk off when JAMESON grabs her arm again.

JAMESON: (looks left and right; speaks quietly) On second thought leave the old suit, at least through the weekend, ok?


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R. Lee Ermey c1990 vs. J. Jonah Jameson (Image sources “imdb.com” & “aminoapps.com”)

In addition to Spidey and the villains, the film recruits Jessica Tandy as Aunt May, George Gaynes as Uncle Ben, and the gorgeous Fay Masterson as Peter’s unrequited love interest Mary Jane. They even bring in character actor R. Lee Ermey as J. Jonah Jameson. Not to mention Stan Lee’s cameo as a reporter. And, indeed, it is Peter’s relationships with these coworkers and loved ones rather than his battles with The Lizard that are the heart of the story. We agonize with Peter when, due to his own arrogance, Uncle Ben dies. We sympathize with Aunt May as she gives so much love to Peter. We feel for Peter as he deals with his abusive boss J. Jonah Jameson, who hates Spiderman. And we long along with Peter and Mary Jane as fate constantly seems to intervene to keep them apart. And the central lesson of “with great power comes great responsibility” feels true and earned.

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Fay Masterson c1990 vs. classic Mary Jane (Image sources Irama Gallery & “pinterest.com”)

And all of this was framed by an epic early 1990s soundtrack[3] featuring musical artists from New York, featuring They Might be Giants (including, ironically given the song it’s parodying, “Particle Man”) and the Hip Hop artists of the Queens/Brooklyn Juice Crew. It also included original songs by They Might be Giants (“The Spidey Swing”) and “King of the Beat Box” Biz Markie[4] (“(Ya’ Got me) Crawlin’ tha Walls”).

As stated, Spider-Man was a blockbuster hit, making over $370 million internationally against its $39 million budget (a nearly 10-to-1 return on investment!), and it went on to spawn two highly successful sequels, 1993’s Spider-Man 2, directed by Robert Zemeckis and with Alfred Molina reprising his role as Doctor Octopus and introducing Joe Morton as Norman Osborn in a cameo, and 1995’s Spider-Man 3, directed by Joss Whedon with Joe Morton reprising his role as Norman Osborn a.k.a. The Green Goblin, Henry Simmons playing his son Harry, Peter’s best friend from college and future nemesis, and Rachel Blanchard as new love interest Gwen Stacy[5]. The third film even briefly introduced Ethan Erickson as Eddie Brock, setting up a possible future Venom appearance.

But Spider-Man did more than kick off a series of sequels. Coming back-to-back with Batman, it reinvigorated the comic book superhero film, which had been languishing since Supergirl’s poor performance. Warner Brothers immediately greenlit a Superman film and began exploring other characters in the DC stable, including Wonder Woman. Disney/Marvel, meanwhile, began pursuing another popular Marvel franchise, The Fantastic Four.

And thus, the great Marvel-DC rivalry leaped off of the pages of comics and onto the big screen.

The ultimate winner would be we, the fandom.



[1] In tone it will be similar to the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films from our timeline, moving back and forth between sincerity and semi-self-awareness.

[2] He is discovered based on his role in the ABC miniseries It (1990). And alas, this classic commercial is now butterflied:

[3] Hat tip to @Igeo654, @GrahamB, and @jpj1421

[4] Requiem in pace, Biz!

[5] Alfred Molina is just so damned perfect as Doc Ock that it’s hard to imagine an alternate casting. He looks the part so much it’s uncanny. Joe Morton gets cast as Norman based on his nuanced performance as Miles Dyson in T2 and Henry Simmons gets cast based upon his strong performance in Above the Rim. Both were in part approached based on the fact that the casting director mistakenly thought that Norman and Harry Osborn were Black or biracial based upon some of the comics images that make them appear so due to skin tone and hair. Zemeckis and Whedon decided to “just go with it” since Morton had a great screen test and since the added racial subtext made the role that much more impactful.
So this TL has 16 year old Neil Patrick Harris as Doctor Who, Willem Dafoe as Batman, Bruce Campbell as Buck Rogers, and now Seth Green as Spider-Man. This might have just won the award for most out-of-the-box, yet awesome pop culture TL on the site.
 
I'm Bat-Shemp!
Speaking of Batman and Bruce Campbell...


Chapter 7: I’m Bat-Shemp!
Excerpt from All You Need is a Chin: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell


With the end of the short but glorious run of Buck Rogers, it was back to B-Movies and Bat-Shemping for me.

Try to contain your excitement.

My contract with Disney ended right about the same time that Sam and Lisa’s marriage did. Is that irony? I forget. I’ll ask Alanis Morrissette. But anyway, I was back with Sam in time to Bat-Shemp during the post-production of Batman 2. Or as the pedantic fanboys never tire of telling me, Batman: Rise of the Dark Knight, as it’s formally known. He had all the same actors: Willem Dafoe returned as Bats. Kevin Kline was back as Harvey Dent, having had his face acid-bathed by Robin Williams’ Joker in the first film. Sean Young was back as love interest Silver St. Cloud, Ian Abercrombie back as Alfred Pennyworth, and Pat Hingle back as Commissioner Gordon. But now he had Brandon Lee as the smart but athletic Dick Grayson, who Alfred hires as Bruce Wayne’s personal assistant. Naturally, Dick discovers the Bat Cave and gets recruited as Batman’s new sidekick, which Sam named Night Wing, because, let’s face it, Robin was box office poison in 1991. It’d take a serious rehab through the Teen Titans cartoon before any studio would dare bring the Boy Wonder back in America.

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Not this at all…

Sam also brought in the seductive Uma Thurman as Cat Woman/Selena Kyle. Uma had just made a name for herself as Zenobia in Conan the Conqueror. I’d tried to get Sam to take Jen Tilley, but no luck. Still, though, it’s hard to argue with Uma. She’s like an actual living Valkyrie! And boy did she bring Catwoman to life.

But you knew all that. What you may not have known is that Sam doubled-down on the themes of duality from the first film. You had Bruce Wayne’s day job leading the philanthropy with faithful Silver St. Cloud as his love, and Batman’s night job with the mysterious and seductive Catwoman as temptation. You had the ongoing Batman themes of vengeance vs. justice and all that, with Catty representing the former and Silver representing the latter.

And then you had the villains, who took this whole duality thing to new and literal levels. The new False Face gang, led by the mysterious Black Mask[1], is the initial threat, filling in the crime vacuum left by the defeat of the Clownz in the prior film. Of course, the Black Mask is really this Roman Sionis guy we keep meeting, whose Janus Cosmetics (geddit? Named for the two-faced Roman god?) just got bailed out by Bruce Wayne, but which cost Sionis his job as CEO, leading him to seek power through crime. He’s also batshit insane and his gang likes to cut the skin from people’s faces as a warning, which the T rating wouldn’t let us show happening, so we had to, like, hint at it. Even so, the moral guardians freaked out seeing as how WB was selling Batman toys and Happy Meals to kids[2].

As an aside, I lobbied hard to play Sionis, but the studio went with Nicolas Cage, which made production…interesting to say the least. Nic and I had some long talks about comic books, at least when I could get him out of character long enough to talk about anything.

And, needless to say, Sionis is just the tip of the crime iceberg as it were (Crimeberg? Sounds like the title of my next film, knowing my luck), because behind it all is none other than former mayor Harvey Dent, now the mysterious underworld figure known as Two Face, who we last saw getting said acid bath from the Joker in the prior film.

And yea, I just spoiled the whole plot of the movie. But why are you reading my book if you haven’t seen my films? You have no one to blame but yourself, pal.

But anyway, now that he was a Big Time Director, Sam had to think about that type of stuff with themes and the like. We never worried too much about themes and the like when we did Evil Dead or Friday the 13th 5. Or at least I didn’t. And even Sam, living high in his lofty Big Hollywood ivory tower, was getting nostalgic for the ol’ “Ham & Cheese”. He’d produced The Dead Next Door (starring yours truly) and Lunatics: A Love Story (starring Ted), and was debating getting into TV, but he was a “big studio guy” now and doing schlock, at least back in ’91, was cutting your own throat.

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“Welcome, Hollywood A-Listers, to the place where anybody can be, or even receive, a Real Hack! Ehehehehehee!!!” (Image source “thehollywoodreporter.com”)

But thankfully, HBO had developed a loophole: Tales from the Crypt. It was strange. This little, R-rated, bloody TV anthology series was managing to attract big Hollywood names to act or direct. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks, or Whoopie Goldberg could all appear in the series and still get invited to sit up front at the Oscars. It was uncanny.

So, naturally, Sam approached them and directed “The Necronomicon”, a sort of pseudo-sequel to The Evil Dead where Ash gets a package in the mail, and go figure it’s the Necronomicon. In his clumsy attempts to destroy the accursed thing he becomes possessed, as does everything in the lodge around him. There’s no real plot, just excuses for dumb Ash to be comedically abused by the spirits of the evil dead. He (by which, I mean I) ultimately cut off his/my own possessed hand in a shower of blood. He eventually gets sucked into a portal through time to a Medieval world. We used enough red dyed corn syrup to end hunger in Somalia. And we put in as much over the top twisted humor as we could. Even the deer trophy had a good laugh about it all.

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“Come right in, deer. You’ll die laughing…eheheheheheheheheeee!” (Image sources “whatculture.com” and “weminoredinfilm.com”)

So, the producers of Crypt loved it and it got good numbers and viewer buzz for its mix of slapstick comedy and horror. In fact, they wanted to do a movie. It was sort of this thing at the time where the producers wanted to do Tales from the Crypt movie releases. Their first release would be Death Becomes Her directed by Paul Verhoeven with Meryl Streep, Goldie Hahn, and Rick Moranis[3]. It became famous for its cutting-edge special effects and even won an Oscar for them. My now-wife Ida worked on the costuming with Cheryl Henson. Their costumes became legendary.

We were asked to do the second film. Given that Ash is flung into the past at the end of “The Necronomicon” that film became Medieval Dead, which Sam wanted to be a salute to the old Ray Harryhausen films of the past. Sam was busy directing Thinner and was on the hook to produce Batman 3, so his brother Ted decided to take up the director’s chair. Ted had done some second unit stuff on The Running Man and the Batman films, so he felt up to the task. I returned as Ash. We decided to take the bloody slapstick that we did with “The Necronomicon” and dial it to 11.

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Basically this, but under the Tales from the Crypt label

Tales from the Crypt: Medieval Dead, was just as batshit to work on as it is to watch. Tim Burton’s Skeleton Crew helped with not just the old school Harryhausen effects, but with the costuming, so I got to work with Ida again. I played not just Ash, but the Deadite-possessed “Bad Ash”. The action reached full blown Three Stooges levels of slapstick, if the Stooges had ever done a slasher. Sam and Ted squeezed in so many cheesy one-liners for the fans to endlessly quote that Schwarzenegger would have been embarrassed to say them all. If “The Necronomicon” could have fed Somalia with the red-dyed corn syrup, this film could have rotted the teeth of the entire population of China, including Hong Kong. We had fountains of it. That’s not an exaggeration. I’m talking Old Faithful here.

To make matters weirder, two of the extras made up as Deadites were caught “boning” on the set[4] between takes. Hollywood-style necrophilia? Everyone’s got their kink, I guess.

To this day fans ask me if Medieval Dead would be considered a “Smart Slasher” or not. My official answer is “shut the hell up and get out of here!”

Anyway, between the surprising success of Death Becomes Her and the honorable showing of Medieval Dead, which more than doubled its piddling budget in returns, Tales from the Crypt’s film franchise was cemented as a “thing” in the ‘90s. They did Devil’s Knight (another supernatural medieval thing) and Bloody Bordello (set in London, of course) next, followed eventually by Quentin Tarantino’s and Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk ‘till Dawn and Peter Jackson's The Frighteners.

I like to think that I had a hand in that success.

Get it? Hand? Because I cut off my…never mind. Even the Crypt Keeper wouldn’t touch that pun.

But Sam had bigger fish to fry. Dino de Laurentiis had approached him back on the set of The Running Man to direct a version of Stephen King’s Thinner, which he did in partnership with As You Wish after Dino had to sell off his own studio to ABC. It was released through Fantasia by his soon-to-be-ex-father-in-law Jim Henson in ‘91. He found actor Larry Drake to play the lead Billy Halleck, who through a combination of some personal weight loss and some creepy-convincing prosthetics from the Chiodo Brothers over at Skeleton Crew, managed to play the asshole lawyer who gets his comeuppance. I fought to play one of the judges. I got to play the carnie Biff Quigley.

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This directed by Sam Raimi

In addition to directing Thinner and pre-production on Batman 3, Sam even imposed himself into the production of Man of Steel, the new Warner Brothers Superman film, rebooting the stagnant franchise. He wrote up a treatment and later he and Ted cranked out a screenplay. Sam wanted to direct, but Warner wanted a more “sentimental” take for Sups, so they brought in Ron Howard.

Sam was disappointed. “What, do they really think I’d make Superman into some sort of black clad killer who breaks people’s necks or something? Who do they take me for?”

“Come on, Sam,” I told him, “You can’t hog the whole damned DC to yourself.”

“The last words to pass through my dying lips will be ‘Justice League,’” Sam replied with as much melodrama as he could squeeze in.

And yet with Batman 3 in production and set for release in ’93, he had plenty to keep him busy.

As for me, well, if nothing else I could always look forward to Bat-Shemping.

Or the long-awaited debut of Crimeberg.



[1] Two Face Fedora tip to @Plateosaurus.

[2] In our timeline a similar “scandal” surrounded Batman Returns, whose dark and violent themes and scenes clashed hard with the Happy Meals and toys they were pushing as “product integration.” The ensuing outrage helped fuel the campy, “toyetic” turn under Joel Schumacher.

[3] In our timeline when at the time top tier director Robert Zemeckis took an interest, they decided to drop the Tales from the Crypt label. Butterflies sent Bruce Willis elsewhere in this timeline.

[4] According to our timeline’s If Chins Could Kill, this happened on the set of Army of Darkness. Too weird to butterfly!
 
It’d take a serious rehab through the Teen Titans cartoon before any studio would dare bring the Boy Wonder back in America.
Hmmm... can't wait till that actually comes.

Brandon Lee as Robin? Oh yeah, that's neat. If The Crow still made, its probably going to be seen as the goth counterpart to the role.
And then you had the villains, who took this whole duality thing to new and literal levels. The new False Face gang, led by the mysterious Black Mask[1], is the initial threat, filling in the crime vacuum left by the defeat of the Clownz in the prior film. Of course, the Black Mask is really this Roman Sionis guy we keep meeting, whose Janus Cosmetics (geddit? Named for the two-faced Roman god?) just got bailed out by Bruce Wayne, but which cost Sionis his job as CEO, leading him to seek power through crime.
[1] Two Face Fedora tip to @Plateosaurus.
Thanks!

This Tales from the Crypt sounds amazing, as does AoD: Medieval Dead (great pun by the way).

I was actually wondering when Death Becomes Her would pop up. Pleasantly surprised its a Tales from the Crypt film, as are many from OTL. I take it Bloody Bordello is TTL's Bordello of Blood?

Can't wait for TTL's Man of Steel as helmed by Ron Howard.
 
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Tales from the Crypt: Medieval Dead Sounds amazing, even more insane that the OTL film!

Kinda glad they skip the whole Robin stage for Batman: Rise of the Dark Knight.

Sam Raimi’s Justice League sounds like it could be fun- wonder who does Aquaman, Martian Manhunter etc?

Wonder how much political/social commentary Paul Verhoeven drops into ITTL’s version of Death Becomes Her?

Fun chapter. More please @Geekhis Khan
 
“The last words to pass through my dying lips will be ‘Justice League,’” Sam replied with as much melodrama as he could squeeze in.
If that isn't foreshadowing, I don't know what is. It would be a kick if Sam and Ted Raimi's screenplay included cameos of DeFoe's Batman and John Wesley Shipp's Flash.
 
While it's too late now but I wonder if some time in the past Robert Holmes-à-Court attempted to do either British or American remakes of Australian TV show?
 
Speaking of Batman and Bruce Campbell...


Chapter 7: I’m Bat-Shemp!
Excerpt from All You Need is a Chin: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell


With the end of the short but glorious run of Buck Rogers, it was back to B-Movies and Bat-Shemping for me.

Try to contain your excitement.

My contract with Disney ended right about the same time that Sam and Lisa’s marriage did. Is that irony? I forget. I’ll ask Alanis Morrissette. But anyway, I was back with Sam in time to Bat-Shemp during the post-production of Batman 2. Or as the pedantic fanboys never tire of telling me, Batman: Rise of the Dark Knight, as it’s formally known. He had all the same actors: Willem Dafoe returned as Bats. Kevin Kline was back as Harvey Dent, having had his face acid-bathed by Robin Williams’ Joker in the first film. Sean Young was back as love interest Silver St. Cloud, Ian Abercrombie back as Alfred Pennyworth, and Pat Hingle back as Commissioner Gordon. But now he had Brandon Lee as the smart but athletic Dick Grayson, who Alfred hires as Bruce Wayne’s personal assistant. Naturally, Dick discovers the Bat Cave and gets recruited as Batman’s new sidekick, which Sam named Night Wing, because, let’s face it, Robin was box office poison in 1991. It’d take a serious rehab through the Teen Titans cartoon before any studio would dare bring the Boy Wonder back in America.

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Not this at all…

Sam also brought in the seductive Uma Thurman as Cat Woman/Selena Kyle. Uma had just made a name for herself as Zenobia in Conan the Conqueror. I’d tried to get Sam to take Jen Tilley, but no luck. Still, though, it’s hard to argue with Uma. She’s like an actual living Valkyrie! And boy did she bring Catwoman to life.

But you knew all that. What you may not have known is that Sam doubled-down on the themes of duality from the first film. You had Bruce Wayne’s day job leading the philanthropy with faithful Silver St. Cloud as his love, and Batman’s night job with the mysterious and seductive Catwoman as temptation. You had the ongoing Batman themes of vengeance vs. justice and all that, with Catty representing the former and Silver representing the latter.

And then you had the villains, who took this whole duality thing to new and literal levels. The new False Face gang, led by the mysterious Black Mask[1], is the initial threat, filling in the crime vacuum left by the defeat of the Clownz in the prior film. Of course, the Black Mask is really this Roman Sionis guy we keep meeting, whose Janus Cosmetics (geddit? Named for the two-faced Roman god?) just got bailed out by Bruce Wayne, but which cost Sionis his job as CEO, leading him to seek power through crime. He’s also batshit insane and his gang likes to cut the skin from people’s faces as a warning, which the T rating wouldn’t let us show happening, so we had to, like, hint at it. Even so, the moral guardians freaked out seeing as how WB was selling Batman toys and Happy Meals to kids[2].

As an aside, I lobbied hard to play Sionis, but the studio went with Nicolas Cage, which made production…interesting to say the least. Nic and I had some long talks about comic books, at least when I could get him out of character long enough to talk about anything.

And, needless to say, Sionis is just the tip of the crime iceberg as it were (Crimeberg? Sounds like the title of my next film, knowing my luck), because behind it all is none other than former mayor Harvey Dent, now the mysterious underworld figure known as Two Face, who we last saw getting said acid bath from the Joker in the prior film.

And yea, I just spoiled the whole plot of the movie. But why are you reading my book if you haven’t seen my films? You have no one to blame but yourself, pal.

But anyway, now that he was a Big Time Director, Sam had to think about that type of stuff with themes and the like. We never worried too much about themes and the like when we did Evil Dead or Friday the 13th 5. Or at least I didn’t. And even Sam, living high in his lofty Big Hollywood ivory tower, was getting nostalgic for the ol’ “Ham & Cheese”. He’d produced The Dead Next Door (starring yours truly) and Lunatics: A Love Story (starring Ted), and was debating getting into TV, but he was a “big studio guy” now and doing schlock, at least back in ’91, was cutting your own throat.

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“Welcome, Hollywood A-Listers, to the place where anybody can be, or even receive, a Real Hack! Ehehehehehee!!!” (Image source “thehollywoodreporter.com”)

But thankfully, HBO had developed a loophole: Tales from the Crypt. It was strange. This little, R-rated, bloody TV anthology series was managing to attract big Hollywood names to act or direct. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks, or Whoopie Goldberg could all appear in the series and still get invited to sit up front at the Oscars. It was uncanny.

So, naturally, Sam approached them and directed “The Necronomicon”, a sort of pseudo-sequel to The Evil Dead where Ash gets a package in the mail, and go figure it’s the Necronomicon. In his clumsy attempts to destroy the accursed thing he becomes possessed, as does everything in the lodge around him. There’s no real plot, just excuses for dumb Ash to be comedically abused by the spirits of the evil dead. He (by which, I mean I) ultimately cut off his/my own possessed hand in a shower of blood. He eventually gets sucked into a portal through time to a Medieval world. We used enough red dyed corn syrup to end hunger in Somalia. And we put in as much over the top twisted humor as we could. Even the deer trophy had a good laugh about it all.

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“Come right in, deer. You’ll die laughing…eheheheheheheheheeee!” (Image sources “whatculture.com” and “weminoredinfilm.com”)

So, the producers of Crypt loved it and it got good numbers and viewer buzz for its mix of slapstick comedy and horror. In fact, they wanted to do a movie. It was sort of this thing at the time where the producers wanted to do Tales from the Crypt movie releases. Their first release would be Death Becomes Her directed by Paul Verhoeven with Meryl Streep, Goldie Hahn, and Rick Moranis[3]. It became famous for its cutting-edge special effects and even won an Oscar for them. My now-wife Ida worked on the costuming with Cheryl Henson. Their costumes became legendary.

We were asked to do the second film. Given that Ash is flung into the past at the end of “The Necronomicon” that film became Medieval Dead, which Sam wanted to be a salute to the old Ray Harryhausen films of the past. Sam was busy directing Thinner and was on the hook to produce Batman 3, so his brother Ted decided to take up the director’s chair. Ted had done some second unit stuff on The Running Man and the Batman films, so he felt up to the task. I returned as Ash. We decided to take the bloody slapstick that we did with “The Necronomicon” and dial it to 11.

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Basically this, but under the Tales from the Crypt label

Tales from the Crypt: Medieval Dead, was just as batshit to work on as it is to watch. Tim Burton’s Skeleton Crew helped with not just the old school Harryhausen effects, but with the costuming, so I got to work with Ida again. I played not just Ash, but the Deadite-possessed “Bad Ash”. The action reached full blown Three Stooges levels of slapstick, if the Stooges had ever done a slasher. Sam and Ted squeezed in so many cheesy one-liners for the fans to endlessly quote that Schwarzenegger would have been embarrassed to say them all. If “The Necronomicon” could have fed Somalia with the red-dyed corn syrup, this film could have rotted the teeth of the entire population of China, including Hong Kong. We had fountains of it. That’s not an exaggeration. I’m talking Old Faithful here.

To make matters weirder, two of the extras made up as Deadites were caught “boning” on the set[4] between takes. Hollywood-style necrophilia? Everyone’s got their kink, I guess.

To this day fans ask me if Medieval Dead would be considered a “Smart Slasher” or not. My official answer is “shut the hell up and get out of here!”

Anyway, between the surprising success of Death Becomes Her and the honorable showing of Medieval Dead, which more than doubled its piddling budget in returns, Tales from the Crypt’s film franchise was cemented as a “thing” in the ‘90s. They did Devil’s Knight (another supernatural medieval thing) and Bloody Bordello (set in London, of course) next, followed eventually by Quentin Tarantino’s and Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk ‘till Dawn and Peter Jackson's The Frighteners.

I like to think that I had a hand in that success.

Get it? Hand? Because I cut off my…never mind. Even the Crypt Keeper wouldn’t touch that pun.

But Sam had bigger fish to fry. Dino de Laurentiis had approached him back on the set of The Running Man to direct a version of Stephen King’s Thinner, which he did in partnership with As You Wish after Dino had to sell off his own studio to ABC. It was released through Fantasia by his soon-to-be-ex-father-in-law Jim Henson in ‘91. He found actor Larry Drake to play the lead Billy Halleck, who through a combination of some personal weight loss and some creepy-convincing prosthetics from the Chiodo Brothers over at Skeleton Crew, managed to play the asshole lawyer who gets his comeuppance. I fought to play one of the judges. I got to play the carnie Biff Quigley.

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This directed by Sam Raimi

In addition to directing Thinner and pre-production on Batman 3, Sam even imposed himself into the production of Man of Steel, the new Warner Brothers Superman film, rebooting the stagnant franchise. He wrote up a treatment and later he and Ted cranked out a screenplay. Sam wanted to direct, but Warner wanted a more “sentimental” take for Sups, so they brought in Ron Howard.

Sam was disappointed. “What, do they really think I’d make Superman into some sort of black clad killer who breaks people’s necks or something? Who do they take me for?”

“Come on, Sam,” I told him, “You can’t hog the whole damned DC to yourself.”

“The last words to pass through my dying lips will be ‘Justice League,’” Sam replied with as much melodrama as he could squeeze in.

And yet with Batman 3 in production and set for release in ’93, he had plenty to keep him busy.

As for me, well, if nothing else I could always look forward to Bat-Shemping.

Or the long-awaited debut of Crimeberg.



[1] Two Face Fedora tip to @Plateosaurus.

[2] In our timeline a similar “scandal” surrounded Batman Returns, whose dark and violent themes and scenes clashed hard with the Happy Meals and toys they were pushing as “product integration.” The ensuing outrage helped fuel the campy, “toyetic” turn under Joel Schumacher.

[3] In our timeline when at the time top tier director Robert Zemeckis took an interest, they decided to drop the Tales from the Crypt label. Butterflies sent Bruce Willis elsewhere in this timeline.

[4] According to our timeline’s If Chins Could Kill, this happened on the set of Army of Darkness. Too weird to butterfly!
The Glory continues! Lee would be perfect for Dick, although personally I always thought he would have been a good Batman. I'm now hoping that Christopher Reeve gets to be Jor-El in Man of Steel.
 
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You know, depending on when Disney's ownership of the Spruce Goose started, it would make this particular movie a rather dated experience.
Yep, interesting. I'd guess that it doesn't get made ITTL since by 1987 Disney was already in early talks with Wrather ITTL, so perhaps it appears on a Duck Duck Goof special instead.

Plenty of totally useless aircraft got flown time after time...that being said, not flying it is definitely less risky, and flying it wouldn't really add much to having it. So it's hard to see Disney putting it in the air.
Yep, I got to ride in a CAF AT-6 down in Phoenix once (awesome!) and have enjoyed seeing occasional Warbirds fly in. The Goose...yea, that would be a risk and very costly. The FAA may not even allow it.

It’s your call on what you do but the Clone Saga was originally meant to be short, but the Sales Team of Marvel (who were mostly in charge to keep the company afloat) kept getting getting the writers to push it back, leading to the whole confusion with Judas Traveler, Kaine, The Jackal and the whole Flip Flopping (including changing on the same issue) on whether Peter Parker or Ben Reilly was the clone.
Yea, I saw the video, thanks! I literally sighed and shook my head when they mentioned the five competing editors in chief. What could go possibly wrong in that scenario? :rolleyes: A short run seems probable, particularly since Marvel as a Disney division isn't as "sink or swim" and thus able to take creative risks rather than fish for

Yeah in OTL this was case partly fuelled by the a) Speculator boom b) Peralman and his minions ringing Marvel for everything it had, c) Knightfall/Death of Superman coming out and Marvel 'needing' a response - none of this seems relevant to the Disney owned Marvel ITTL.

Sure, Marvel will be under pressure to succeed and produce good books, but I just don't see the gimmick covers, 'shock events', and speculator boom happening ITTL.
LOL my friends got caught up in the speculator boom, buying up multiple copies of "Barbie #1" and such sure they were going to be rich in the future. One friend freaked when I had the audacity to read one of his "mint never opened" comics by mistake (it's worth about cover price today anyway, since every other comics nerd of 1992 was doing the same thing with the same title). To some degree that was driven by outside "investors" hoping to get rich, but some of the "event" comics feeding off of it might be muted.

Death of Superman...such an iconic Dark Age moment. I saw one writer talk about "the year Superman died and Venom got his own cover" as defining moments of the Dark/Iron Age to them. Having that be a marriage would be an interesting change. Of course with WB pursuing Superman movies, it changes the immediate calculus there.

So this TL has 16 year old Neil Patrick Harris as Doctor Who, Willem Dafoe as Batman, Bruce Campbell as Buck Rogers, and now Seth Green as Spider-Man. This might have just won the award for most out-of-the-box, yet awesome pop culture TL on the site.
Thanks. If I can find the outside-of-the-box cast and make I work (or at least memorable) I consider it a win.

This Tales from the Crypt sounds amazing, as does AoD: Medieval Dead (great pun by the way).

I was actually wondering when Death Becomes Her would pop up. Pleasantly surprised its a Tales from the Crypt film, as are many from OTL. I take it Bloody Bordello is TTL's Bordello of Blood?
Thanks Raimi for the pun. Medieval Dead was AoD's original name but the studio made them change it. Since TftC loves bad puns, it stays, as does the original ending where Ash takes too many drops of the potion and awakens after the end of civilization.

Yes, basically took the Bobs' script and set it in London for the added punnery. ITTL TffC is leaning in on the horror/comedy/camp/self-aware aspects.

While it's too late now but I wonder if some time in the past Robert Holmes-à-Court attempted to do either British or American remakes of Australian TV show?
If anyone has any suggestions.

The Glory continues! Lee would be perfect for Dick, although personally I always thought he would have been a good Batman. I'm now hoping that Christopher Reeve gets to be Jor-El in Man of Steel.
Or Jonathan Kent.
One of you may be right.
 
Yep, interesting. I'd guess that it doesn't get made ITTL since by 1987 Disney was already in early talks with Wrather ITTL, so perhaps it appears on a Duck Duck Goof special instead.
I thought that the movie would be butterflied away, and turning it into a Duck Duck Goof special works quite well.

Maybe its slot in the Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 could be replaced by one of the cancelled movies from OTL?
Just click on the HB section, and you're sure to find it.
 
As for the reboots, I think a 2000s reboot is certainly going to happen, since CGI effect improvements might make the effects more convincing and timeless. Since the original Spider-Man trilogy references a lot from the original comics run, I wonder if the reboots will take more modern elements, and perhaps they'll skip the origin story and go straight ahead to him fighting villains like Venom?
Personally, I'd love to see what a Spielberg/Henson/Lucas-overseen MCU-like Marvel film universe - maybe called something like Worlds of Marvel or Marvel Universe - in the big-budget CGI-age of the 2000s with all the characters to play with (because Marvel probably aren't going to be selling the film rights of their characters left and right) would be like.

It's just too fun an opportunity to pass up - Cap meeting a young Magneto, Wolverine as a Howling Commando and having a history of clashing with the Winter Soldier, Mister Sinister as the brains behind the Red Room (the two are, again, unconnected in the comics - this was taken from the fic Child of the Storm which, indeed, had him involved)....

How would Spidey be introduced in that? Personally, I'd lean on introducing him late to set up a Young Avengers movie (yes, to the best of my knowledge, he wasn't on the team in the comics, but, on the other hand, Spidey has selling power).
 
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How would Spidey be introduced in that? Personally, I'd lean on introducing him late to set up a Young Avengers movie (yes, to the best of my knowledge, he wasn't on the team in the comics, but, on the other hand, Spidey has selling power).
The closest Marvel had to Young Avengers in the 1990s were the New Warriors, of whom the Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly) was briefly a member.
 
The closest Marvel had to Young Avengers in the 1990s were the New Warriors, of whom the Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly) was briefly a member.
I was referring to my hypothetical Worlds of Marvel idea - principally because I'd love to see a Spielberg, Henson and (maybe) Lucas-overseen MCU-like Marvel film universe in the big-budget CGI-age of the 2000s with all the characters to play with (because Marvel probably aren't going to be selling the film rights of their characters left and right).

However, I'm going to bring up something I can't believe I haven't brought up in ages - I met Dougal Dixon once and he said that there'd been a lot of buzz in Hollywood about a movie based on his book After Man: A Zoology of the Future - however, none of it really came to fruition (sad, really).

However, very interestingly, one of the people in Hollywood who expressed interest was none other than Steven Spielberg (another hero of this timeline!) - who wanted it for DreamWorks. Apparently, the planned film never made it to fruition, but Dixon got a check from them for the next twenty years.

However, ITTL, Spielberg's working with Disney - and I have no idea if Henson knew about After Man, but it seems like it'd be right up his alley.
 
Spider-Man (1991), a Retrospective
From Swords and Spaceships Magazine, July 2012


So once again Spider-Man is getting rebooted. Go figure. But let’s take a moment to appreciate the very first time that Spidey came to the big screen, 1991’s Spider-Man, produced and released by MGM Studios with groundbreaking special effects courtesy of the Disney/Henson Creatureworks. With a then-unknown Seth Green in the title role and some star power via Liam Neeson as the Lizard, the film was a hit and launched a film empire, and a Marvel-DC film rivalry, that remains with us today.

First off, the plot was nothing that would amaze folks too much today. It’s pretty much a bog standard three-act “Peter Parker is an angry, picked-on nerd, Peter gets bitten by radioactive spider, Peter does what he wants as Spider-Man damn the consequences, Peter loses Uncle Ben due to his own arrogance, Peter learns that with great powers comes great responsibility, Peter battles the villain and saves the day, Peter is a humbler hero, but now has to hide his secret identity to protect the people he loves” plot that we’ve seen in various forms over the years. But what made it stand out at the time is that this was mostly new ground for movie audiences in 1991. Because, believe it or not, no one in 1991 but comics nerds really knew that much about Spidey save what he looked like and the basics of his powers (e.g. “shoots webs and climbs walls”). You see, your average 1991 audience member’s only real experience with their Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man was that maybe they saw the Electric Company shorts or reruns of the old cartoons when they were kids.

UNCLE BEN: You’re a man now, Peter, and being a man means gaining new power.

PETER: You have no idea.

UNCLE BEN: But remember, Peter: with great power comes great responsibility.

PETER sighs and rolls his eyes.

Spider-Man
in 1991 was a massive creative risk. Heck, the only reason why MGM head Tom Wilhite even gave Spidey the green light was because of the massive success of the 1989 Warner Brothers Batman, directed by Sam Raimi. Because while superhero films are a dime a dozen today, back in 1991 having your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man on the Big Screen was a Big Deal. And what was an even Bigger Deal were the groundbreaking special effects.

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Yea, not nearly this good, but damned good for 1991 (Image source “that-yandere-life.tumbler.com”)

You see, in 1990 computer effects were still in their infancy and modern chromakey (“green screen”) effects still in their awkward adolescence. Disney and Lucasfilm had experimented with a few added in here and there over the years, but for Spider-Man, Disney effects head Brian Henson, son of Muppets creator Jim Henson, decided to skip evolution and go straight to revolution. He and his team engineered all sorts of amazing rigs and lifts for their “Green Box” studio, including a massive thing they called the Christmas Ornament that could rotate an actor or model in three axes and record the accelerations as vector data. They had a “baldo” body rig that could convert physical motions directly into digital vector wireframes in conjunction with motion capture tech and could even be “replayed” back into scale animatronic models to allow for amazingly lifelike model work without resorting to stop motion. They had also developed advances in digital compositing from their years of animation work that managed to minimize the “halo” and “shimmer” effects that tended to affect chromakey effects of the time (such unintended effects can be readily seen in 1988’s Willow or 1989’s The Judgement of Anubis).

I could go on for hours, but, really, check out the behind-the-scenes effects featurettes on the VCD.

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(Image source “hipcomic.com”)

So, the effects still hold up fairly well today, even if they are obviously dated. There’s still a slight “shimmer” when Spidey swings through the city and the number of big swinging effects is kept to a minimum for exactly this reason. Well, that and the sheer workload of this methodology (reportedly 3 months of work was required for each minute of screen time on the effects). In the end it was the quality and complexity of the motions and how they framed them that make the effects work more than the raw photorealism, and much was accomplished the old-fashioned way, with camera angles, framing, editing, and dolly work rather than computers.

Seen today, Spider-Man still seems to swing effortlessly though the city, fairly realistically embedded into his environment. For the time it was jaw-dropping.

By comparison, the wall-crawling and ceiling-crawling effects were all managed by simple sets and camera tricks, no computers required. An old-fashioned “rotating room” set of the type that let Fred Astaire dance up the walls in 1951’s The Royal Wedding was employed, proving that some effects never die.
I would love to know more about how this Spiderman's vfx work. Are there any wire rigs used in the film? Building exterior sets constructed horizontally for exterior wall climbing scenes? Is the "rotating room" (Which was done in Inception on a bigger scale) only done for interior shots only? Were miniature buildings used as well?
 
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Personally, I'd love to see what a Spielberg/Henson/Lucas-overseen MCU-like Marvel film universe - maybe called something like Worlds of Marvel or Marvel Universe - in the big-budget CGI-age of the 2000s with all the characters to play with (because Marvel probably aren't going to be selling the film rights of their characters left and right) would be like.

It's just too fun an opportunity to pass up - Cap meeting a young Magneto, Wolverine as a Howling Commando and having a history of clashing with the Winter Soldier, Mister Sinister as the brains behind the Red Room (the two are, again, unconnected in the comics - this was taken from the fic Child of the Storm which, indeed, had him involved)....

How would Spidey be introduced in that? Personally, I'd lean on introducing him late to set up a Young Avengers movie (yes, to the best of my knowledge, he wasn't on the team in the comics, but, on the other hand, Spidey has selling power).
Yes, Marvel ITTL does have a lot more opportunities to use its properties here with the alt-MCU, since the X-Men, Fantastic Four (which is coming), and other teams can coexist with The Avengers in a singular movie franchise. Plus, having creative control over all of their properties does mean we could get a far better X-Men and F4 without needing so many reboots to the overall canon, which pleases me.

If the MCU does come up in the 2000s, then yeah, maybe Spider-Man could emerge somewhere in The Avengers, but who knows for sure. I definitely prefer if F4 or the X-Men get the movies/TV shows they deserve though, especially F4.

Speaking of the X-Men, does this still get made ITTL? Hope it does under The Disney Channel/Disney Toontown :)

“The last words to pass through my dying lips will be ‘Justice League,’” Sam replied with as much melodrama as he could squeeze in.
I want this to happen so badly. Him working on Batman is already tantalizing enough, but the possibility of him dominating the DCU? Now that's something to anticipate for...
 
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