Study Guide

Spider-Man Screenwriter


David Koepp

Screenwriter David Koepp is no stranger to action flicks. Before he put pen to paper—or fingers to keys—for Spider-Man, he wrote the scripts for films like Mission: Impossible, Panic Room, the first two Jurassic Park films, and cult classic Toy Soldiers.

With Spider-Man, the Saturn Award-winning writer faced the challenge of bringing a comic book to the screen. And not just any comic book, but a beloved, 40-year-old property about a high school student who's grappling with his responsibility to fight crime in New York City…as well as enduring all the headaches, heartaches, and volcanic zits that come with being a young adult.

Koepp's script focuses on how being a superhero is a double-edged sword. Sure, you have crazy skills and abilities, but you also have a lot of pressure on you to do what's right. On top of that, Koepp layers in all the anguish and longing that come with being 18 and madly in love with someone who's set you squarely in the friend zone.

Oh, and Koepp's script is also an origin story that alternates between moments of drama (RIP Uncle Ben) and comedy.

Koepp was tasked with writing a script for Spider-Man before the film had a director or producer, and he was remarkably candid with The A.V. Club's Joshua Klein in a 1999 interview about his role in the highly anticipated big-budget film:

You are [part of the machine]. You really are. Spider-Man is just at the script stage. There's no director or producer, and I already have to answer to four executives and two comic-book guys. That's six people, and the film is only at the script stage! (Source)

Still, Koepp acknowledges that scripting an action spectacle is unlike writing, say, a romantic comedy. There's a certain type of freedom inherent in writing adventure films, no matter if they feature 20th-century dinosaurs or web-slinging high school seniors:

[…] With Spider-Man, it's nice to be able to write this great big fantasy action thing and realize you're not the one who will have to get up at 5 a.m. to figure out how to shoot it. I kind of like that. (Source)

Sounds like with great power comes great liberty to be creative—and to sleep in.

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