"I didn’t know that I could face it again," says Sam Raimi.

The 2007 film Spider-Man 3 is apparently still a raw topic of conversation for Sam Raimi. The director has opened up about why audiences' intense derision of that movie made him hesitate to go back into the world of Marvel superheroes with the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

"I didn't know that I could face it again because it was so awful, having been the director of Spider-Man 3," Raimi revealed in a new interview with Collider. "The internet was getting revved up and people disliked that movie and they sure let me know about it."

Raimi helmed three Spider-Man films starring Tobey Maguire as the web-slinging Peter Parker, starting with the 2002's acclaimed Spider-Man, followed by the even more revered Spider-Man 2 in 2004. But Spider-Man 3 was... unique.

Spider-Man 3
Tobey Maguire in 'Spider-Man 3'
| Credit: Columbia Pictures

By introducing the Venom symbiote — which all these years later is now the star of its own moviesSpider-Man 3 saw Peter become infused with the alien and get all cocky and emo. Maguire's famous dancing moment was even lampooned in the 2018 animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Raimi himself admitted multiple times to the press that he "messed up" on that movie. "I think [simply trying to raise the stakes after Spider-Man 2] was the thinking going into it, and I think that's what doomed us," he told The Nerdist podcast in 2014. "I should've just stuck with the characters and the relationships and progressed them to the next step and not tried to top the bar."

There were other issues with Spider-Man 3, though. Raimi mentioned to SciFi.com in 2007 that some of the producers wanted to add in another comic book love interest for Peter, Gwen Stacy (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) as well as Venom. The fan reactions to all that were "difficult to take back on," Raimi continued in his interview with Collider. "But then, I found out that there was an opening on Doctor Strange 2."

DOCTOR STRANGE; Spider-man 3
Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange and Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man
| Credit: Jay Maidment/Marvel Studios; Merie W. Wallace/Columbia

Scott Derrickson, who directed the first Doctor Strange movie with Benedict Cumberbatch, parted ways with Marvel on the sequel over creative differences. Raimi said that when his name came up in discussions as a possible replacement, he wondered if he could do it.

"They're really demanding, those types of pictures. And I felt, 'Well, that's reason enough,'" he said. "I've always really liked the character of Doctor Strange. He was not my favorite, but he was right up there with the favorites. I loved the first movie. I thought Scott Derrickson did a wonderful job, an incredible job. So I said, 'Yeah.' They left the character in a great place. I didn't think I would be doing another superhero movie. It just happened."

Raimi filmed Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in the U.K., with Cumberbatch returning as the Sorcerer Supreme alongside Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff, who, in the timeline of the MCU, came into her own magical powers as the Scarlet Witch in the Disney+ series WandaVision.

The sequel will have direct ties to this year's Spider-Man: No Way Home, which follows Strange as he accidentally casts a spell to help his buddy Peter (Tom Holland) and brings figures from various dimensions into their own world. Funnily enough, they will include characters from Raimi's Spider-Man movies; Alfred Molina's Doc Ock appears in the No Way Home trailer, and Green Goblin was also heavily teased.

The madness of the multiverse ensues Dec. 17, when No Way Home hits theaters. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is out March 25, 2022.

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