If you are a fan of the original Spider-Man trilogy, one of the best little Easter eggs is the appearance of actor Bruce Campbell in all three films, playing three different roles…or did he?
Back in 2002-2007, Campbell was hardly a household name (Sorry, Bruce). I didn’t even notice that he was in all three movies until a much later date. After he played Sam Axe in USA Network’s Burn Notice, and during one of my Spider-Man marathon sessions, I noticed Campbell.
So, why did Campbell get cast in all three films, as three different characters? Perhaps the auditions were chaotic and nobody noticed? Perhaps he had a great agent who just wants to get paid? Perhaps there are no small parts, only small actors? Or perhaps (and actually true) Campbell and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi grew up together and remain great friends today. Turns out the Campbell, and Raimi’s favorite old car, an Oldsmobile Delta 88 (I had one of those too, Sam) appear in many of Raimi’s films. Stick with me here, there’s a theory (not mine) at the end.
I would argue, in fact, that Campbell plays one of the most important characters in the entire trilogy. (See what I did there? I made him one character, not three). Here’s Campbell’s significance to the original Spider-verse:
In Spider-Man 1, Campbell plays the Ring Announcer in the underground fight club that Peter goes to in order to earn the $3000 to buy a car to impress Mary Jane. Pete shows up in his homemade Underroos and when Campbell asks his name, Pete responds “The Human Spider”. Campbell’s character disagrees and announces him as “The Amazing Spider-Man”. Whoa. Spidey gets his name from Campbell’s character. That’s a very, very important character.
In Spider-Man 2, Campbell plays the aptly named “Snooty Usher”. When Pete arrives late to Mary Jane’s Broadway play, Campbell’s usher keeps him out of the theater. “Don’t disappoint me,” MJ had said. Boom! Campbell’s character drives THE major, non-supervillain conflict in the whole movie. If it isn’t for Campbell’s character, Pete and MJ get together right there, maybe get married and have little spiders and Pete has to stay home on evenings and weekends while MJ is performing, AND Spider-Man becomes a myth who only shows up to fight crime when MJ is between plays. He has to change his name to The Intermittent Spider-Man, and that just doesn’t have a ring to it. So, from a marketing standpoint, the comic books end up at the back of the store next to The Fair to Midland Four.
In Spider-Man 3, Campbell tackles his biggest role, as the definitely not French Maitre D’. It actually turns out to be one of the best comic scenes in the entire trilogy, as Pete is trying to propose to Mary Jane, and for a variety of reasons, Peter being a dumb guy topping the list, it doesn’t work out, but it is a very funny scene.
So, here’s the theory. Again, not mine. In this 2009 article on Access Hollywood, Campbell states that he was told he was in line for a major role in Spider-Man 4. One of the possibilities was that Campbell would play long-time Spidey villain Mysterio. So, perhaps Campbell’s character in the first three films was actually one guy, just trying to make a living doing whatever job he could find, who just happened to keep bumping into Peter Parker. There was some concept art by Jeff Henderson out there for Spider-Man 4 that seemed to support this theory, as the sketch of Mysterio unmasked looks A LOT like Campbell. I’m most familiar with Campbell’s work as Sam Axe, since I never got into Evil Dead, and I can totally imagine a Mysterio as Chuck Findley.
So, there you have it. The story of Bruce Campbell, or one version of it. A fun little bit of Spider-Man lore. Too bad we never got to see it play out to conclusion.
Like this? have a look at other articles by The Grumpy Geek
Spider-Man: The Cancelling of SM4 and TASM3
The Grumpy Geek, Pete Herr is the author of “10 Things We Should Teach You In High School and Usually Don’t”. He is the oldest geek in the Geekiverse by a factor of two. Follow Pete Herr on Facebook, Twitter,and Instagram . If you don’t he gets Grumpy. You don’t want to see him Grumpy.
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