Spider-Man's Long Journey Into Late Night
On Tuesday night, the long-suffering cast of Turn off the Dark will appear on the Late Show. It's hard to believe anything could go through more delays than Julie Taymor's Broadway production, but in fact this meeting between Spider-Man and David Letterman has now been in the works for a quarter century. Below, an excerpt from Ted Newsom and John Brancato's 1985 script for Cannon Films' never-made Spider-Man (for the record, "Max Reiss" is "a world-weary, balding agent") :
INT. TV STUDIO - NIGHT
Backstage hubbub. Reiss and Spider-Man wait in the wings, a female A.D. nearby, a mix of LIVE and FILTERED SOUND from the stage. MONITOR shows LETTERMAN watching a ”stupid human trick,” a man playing music on his teeth.
Where’d you get the clown suit?
Nah. The big mask was better.
The A.D. leads the nervous Spider-Man toward the curtain. Reiss watches the MONITOR, where we see Letterman reading from a card--
But wait, there’s more. For arachnid lovers everywhere, here’s “The Amazing Spider-Man.” How about a tacit round of applause.
ON STAGE as Spider-Man shuffles out from behind a curtain. The tight costume earns him surprised WHOOPS from the audience. Letterman shakes Spidey’s hand, then winces at his sticky palm.
Is that bug juice, or are you just glad to see me?
Sorry. I’m still getting the hang of this.
I see. So, Amazing Spider-Man-- I’ll assume that’s not your given name--
Just call me Spidey.
Can I get you a snack-- a housefly, maybe?
Thanks, I already ate.
I’ll hate myself in the morning for asking, but what exactly makes you any more amazing than the average jerk on the street?
He leaps straight up, somersaulting in mid-air and sticks on a Klieg light lattice. The audience REACTS, suitably impressed. Letterman cocks his head.
Oh, boy. Must come in handy for changing light bulbs.
Spider-Man shoots a long strand of webbing to the ceiling above the audience.
And for my next impression-- Errol Flynn!
He swings out over the boggled crowd and clings to a wall. Even Letterman is dumbstruck, leans cross-armed against his desk. Spidey does a horizontal dance.
Hold it. Are you a shill for Velcro?
The cameras swirl to track Spider-Man as he sings back to the stage. Letterman sits on the edge of his desk, shakes his head.
The BAND reprises Spidey’s “Ta-daaa!” The audience CHEERS, Spidey bows.
All right, amazing. Are you quite finished?
Just about. You see, I also have this amazing strength…
With one hand, Spider-Man lifts the desk--and Letterman--above his head. The audience goes wild.