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Screenwriter David Koepp has been around the Hollywood block for a while, resulting in him having worked on a variety of blockbusters, including Jurassic Park, Spider-Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. All of these movies have one thing in common, be it right when they came out or in the years afterwards: they have huge fandoms.
On the one hand, having a fandom attached to a movie can be most beneficial, as there’s already a built-in support base. On the other hand, it’s no secret that fandoms can be difficult to please, especially when it comes properties that have been around for a while. This is an issue that David Koepp has run into during his career, as he recalled during his recent stop at the ReelBlend podcast with the following:
It’s very hard. I had this on Spider-Man, also. Because at the time, it was a comic book, it had been around for 35 years, and it was beloved by me and others. … Fabulous, empathetic – it’s just a brilliant design for a character. Somebody who’s truly innocent, screwed up a little bit, and was made to pay far more than was fair, and has been trying to make up for it ever since, but kept their sense of humor. Wow, that’s a great character. Anyway, it was similar to doing that in that, when the first Spider-Man came around, the Internet was fairly young but it was pretty nasty already. It had already become an inhospitable place. And I felt like, you know in a basketball game when they are on the road and they are shooting free throws and the opposing fans are all screaming and waving those things and banging them together to try and make you miss? I kind of felt like that’s what writing was like on those movies. So much noise, and so many opinions, and so much… Lucasfilm fans, in particular, are difficult to please. There’s a lot of pressure, and it can be very distracting.
By the time the first Spider-Man movie came out in 2002, Marvel Comics’ Web-Slinger had not only been fighting bad guys in the comics for 40 years, he’d also starred in numerous TV shows (both animated and live-action) and video games. So Spider-Man already has quite the notable fanbase surrounding him, which means that his jump to the big screen was going to be under a lot of scrutiny from the get-go. Add in how internet commentary was already throwing its weight around at the time, and you can understand where David Koepp is coming from recalling his time on Spider-Man.
As for the screenwriter’s comment about Lucasfilm, while Indiana Jones isn’t as big of a property as Spider-Man, it nontheless had a sizable fanbase accumulated from the first three Indy movies, resulting in 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (which Koepp co-wrote with George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson) arguably being put under even more scrutiny than the Marvel hero’s first movie. And while Crystal Skull was met with mostly positive reception from professional critics, overall, fans of the franchise were nowhere near as enthralled with it.
Despite Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull not being one of the most beloved entries in the Harrison Ford-led franchise, until recently, David Koepp was tackling the script for the upcoming Indiana Jones 5. However, Koepp also mentioned during his ReelBlend appearance that he’s no longer writing that project project, as once James Mangold inherited directing duties from Steven Spielberg, it was decided that Mangold should take lead on the story, whether he writes it himself or brings someone else aboard to do so.
You can listen to David Koepp’s full conversation with the ReelBlend hosts below: