Every Superhero Who Exists (and Almost Existed) in the Raimi/Maguire Spider-Man Universe
We all know the Raimiverse, the reality designated as Earth-96283 by Marvel themselves as the home of Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker, Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus and Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin. However, if somebody told you that the only superhero who exists in this universe was Spider-Man, than somebody lied, because the truth is there are eight other superheroes who have been referenced and some almost made canon appearances, and there were even some intentional cinematic universe connections to other Marvel films involving the Raimiverse that never happened. In this post, we'll be going over all of the superheroes, regardless of how obvious or vague their existence in this universe is.
Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man
This one's fairly obvious, considering that he's the titular character for this entire universe and literally the only one we see on screen in canon appearances. He drives the plot of every piece of content involved with this universe and is essentially the thing this world revolves around. He almost returned to this iconic role in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, he was going to serve as the Peter B. Parker mentor figure but the Sony decided to cast Jake Johnson instead. Tobey Maguire is popularly rumored to return to his role of Spider-Man in Spider-Man: No Way Home which comes out next week.
Stephen Strange a.k.a. Doctor Strange
This connection has lots of evidence supporting it, namely two major references in Spider-Man 2. The first of these two references is MJ's billboard for the play she's in being on Bleecker Street, which any hard core Marvel fan could tell you is the street Dr. Strange lives on in any iteration of the character. The second reference is at the Daily Bugle, where J.K. Simmons' J. Jonah Jameson character is trying to come up with a name for Doc Ock and someone pitches "Dr. Strange" and Jameson says, "That's pretty good, but its taken." I find it very cool that Strange had a presence in Sam Raimi's Marvel films from the beginning, because it just so happens that in May 2022, Raimi will be directing Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness for Marvel Studios' Phase Four slot.
Ben Grimm a.k.a. The Thing
Its not a canon installment in which the Thing is referenced, its in a rough draft of the script to the first Spider-Man movie. When Peter Parker steps into the wrestling ring to fight Bonesaw McGraw (Randy "Macho Man" Savage), he protests to the people who locked him in there "I'm not The Thing, you know", referencing the beloved Fantastic Four character who, relevantly enough, became a wrestler during his solo run in the '80s. It would be very interesting if the Raimiverse had a Fantastic Four of their own, because Spidey and the FF have a lot of history in the comics.
Prince Namor a.k.a. The Sub-Mariner
Probably not a canon appearance because the existence of this character contradicts the events of the Spider-Man 2 movie. Either way, in the Spider-Man 2 novelization by Peter David, a man turns Spider-Man's costume in to the Daily Bugle as soon as he finds it in the trash. However, unlike the movie where this was a normal garbage man who found the costume, the novelization made it a man with long shaggy hair and pointy elf-like ears, who Betty Brant jokes "must've once ruled Atlantis" and the man nods at that joke, considering her words thoughtfully. This connects to the Sub-Mariner because in between his appearances in the Golden age and Silver age, Namor forgets who is and becomes a hobo, which probably means that when we encounter Raimiverse Namor at this point in the Spider-Man 2 novel, he's probably at that point in his character arc.
Matt Murdock a.k.a. Daredevil
Also a reference made by Peter David in one of the novelizations, but unlike Namor, this one doesn't contradict the movie, it only confirms a reference that was already there. In the first Spider-Man movie, as Peter goes into the wrestling ring to take on Bonesaw McGraw, he looks at Bonesaw's victims and sees a man with a horned mask and red and yellow costume saying "Oh god, I can't feel my legs!". In the novelization, Peter David confirms this to be Daredevil's father, Jack Murdock, but instead of being a boxer like he is in the comics, he's a wrestler. This doesn't exactly confirm whether or not Matt Murdock/Daredevil exists in Raimiverse, but at least the Murdock bloodline does.
Henry "Hank" Pym a.k.a. Ant Man/Giant Man
Like the Namor thing, this is a cameo appearance from the Spider-Man 2 novelization that contradicts the events of the actual movie. Ant Man appears in the Doc Ock origin scene. In the Spider-Man 2 film, an unnamed female scientist asks Dr. Octavious if he will be harmed by the transfusion with the tentacles A.I. but in the novelization, it is Hank Pym who asks the question. He also described to have disappeared from sight later when Spider-Man looks over to where Pym was standing and sees he's vanished, which implies that this Ant Man has already invented Pym Particles and come far enough along with them to figure out using them without his helmet.
Bruce Banner a.k.a. The Hulk
This will be the final Peter David novelization Easter Egg I'll be going over today. In the novelization for Spider-Man 1, two cops named named DeFalco and Owesly (reference to Marvel writers Tom DeFalco and Jim Owesly/Christopher Priest) show up at the jewelry store after Spider-Man prevents a robbery there. One cop mentions that a week before those events, there were soldiers being trashed in New Mexico by an "incredible hulk", which implies that our favorite Green Goliath exists in the Raimi Spider-Man universe.
James Howlett a.k.a. Wolverine
Even before the first Iron Man movie, legendary Marvel producer Kevin Feige had the idea of making all Marvel movies part of the same, shared, inter-connected universe, and one of the earliest connections he was going to make was sticking Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies in the same universe as the Bryan Singer X-Men films. How was he going to do this you may ask? Well you see, Hugh Jackman, Wolverine himself, was supposed to make a cameo as the iconic character in the first Spider-Man film. Jackman said in an interview with The Huffington Post in 2013 (quote):
"In the first 'Spider-Man' -- Kevin Feige reminded me of this -- we really tried to get me to come on and do something, whether it was a gag or just to walk through the shot or something...The problem was, we couldn't find the suit. The suit was stuck in some thing. And so when they were in New York when I was there, we couldn't get it together."
This means that Hugh Jackman's Wolverine character from the X-Men franchise almost made a canon appearance in the Raimiverse. The X-Men movies are later referenced as fiction in the Raimiverse, in the Stan Lee cameo cut from the original Spider-Man movie where he's selling sunglasses at the World Unity Festival and tries getting people to buy them by saying, "its the kind they wear in the X-Men".
Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man
In April of 2021, concept art of this character surfaced to the internet and leaked on a Reddit post. All that is known about Raimiverse Iron Man is that he was set to appear in Spider-Man 3: The Movie Game but was scrapped for unknown reasons. Something I found really interesting about his character design is that his armor bares resemblance too the Model 45 armor Iron Man wore in the comics while he was a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
That armor however first appeared in 2013, which was around six years after Spider-Man 3 which gives me the theory that the Model 45 armor was just Raimiverse Iron Man's costume recycled for the comics. The last thing I want to mention is that...
Raimi Spider-Man was Originally Going to Connect With MCU
Long before Tom Holland even auditioned to play Spider-Man it was Kevin Feige's plan to make the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies MCU canon. How do I know this? Well, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies and Bryan Singer's X-Men films were referenced in the Iron Man (2008) post credit scene but were cut from the finished version of the film. When Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury says "If gamma rays, radioactive bug bites and assorted mutants weren't enough" he implies that Hulk, Spider-Man and the X-Men all exist in the universe in which him and Stark are having a conversation.
The Hulk he's referencing probably isn't Ang Lee's, this just implies that Incredible Hulk and Iron Man were happening at the same time, "assorted mutants" couldn't mean anything other than the X-Men movies and the only Spider-Man around back in 2008 was Tobey Maguire, so this means Kevin Feige's original plan was to build the Marvel Cinematic Universe off of past Marvel movies from the early 2000s. This could also potentially mean that Tim Story's Fantastic Four and the Nicholas Cage Ghost Rider movies were also originally intended to be MCU canon as well.
However, this does not hold up any longer now that Marvel has since then confirmed all these movies to be separate universes by giving their respective realities different numbers and you can't have Tobey Maguire and Tom Holland in the same universe, same goes for the two Quicksilvers but it is still fun to think about how different the MCU would be if it had started with X-Men (2000) rather than Iron Man (2008).
Which of these Raimiverse cameos do you find the most interesting? Are there any other characters that appeared in the Raimiverse I may have missed?
Thank you all for reading and I hope you all have a good rest of your day!
Edit: Captain America and Red Skull are implied to exist in the Raimiverse as fictional characters when in the first Novelization how a young Peter Parker thinks his parents were heroic spies in which he compares to Captain America, but Uncle Ben refers to them as "old comic book heroes" proving that neither of them were real. Turns out Matt Murdock actually is confirmed to exist there when his father, Jack, talks to him later on in the story ironically referring to Spider-Man as "a real daredevil" for fighting Bonesaw, implying that Matt is going to become a superhero someday. J Jonah Jameson's son John Jameson exists in the Raimiverse as seen in Spider-Man 2 and in the comics he becomes the superhero known as Man-Wolf, so I guess you could say Man-Wolf has the potential to exist in the Raimiverse as well.