‘Spider-Man 4' Update: Director Raimi Says ‘Dark Knight' Has Upped Superhero Ante

Like other superhero fans, Sam Raimi agrees that "The Dark Knight" raised the bar for every comic-book movie to come.

Raimi figures it can only benefit the next chapter in his "Spider-Man" franchise, the first installment of which had been the top-grossing superhero flick until "The Dark Knight" blew it out of the record books last year.

"'The Dark Knight' was brilliant, and the audience seemed to love it, and I think it rightfully raises expectations for the other superhero pictures," Raimi said in an interview at the Cannes Film Festival, where his horror tale "Drag Me to Hell" played. "Which is a great thing for everybody. For the filmmakers, for the audience."

Raimi said he expects to have the script for "Spider-Man 4" in hand within a few weeks. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaireis writing the screenplay for the film, due in theaters in May 2011.

The director said he has discussed the story with Tobey Maguire, who stars as Peter Parker and his alter ego Spidey.

"I'm interested in making the best of the 'Spider-Man' movies ever, and Tobey's really excited," Raimi said. "I'm really looking forward to that collaboration."

A part has been written for Kirsten Dunst, and Raimi said he hopes she will return as the love of Peter's life, Mary Jane Watson.

After glowing reaction for the first two movies, critical response for "Spider-Man 3" was so-so. Right after the third movie came out, Raimi was undecided about returning for more, but he said he did not like "thinking about a world where somebody else was making the Peter Parker story. I love that character."

Raimi said the break he took to make the smaller "Drag Me to Hell" has refreshed him for the return to Spidey, adding that he wanted to "take some of the more modest approach I've learned from this film into the 'Spider-Man' film. I think it's exactly what it needs."

He also said he was game for the challenge of satisfying fans clamoring for bigger and better after "The Dark Knight."

"Yes, they have higher expectations," Raimi said. "The best thing I can do is be true to my character and work harder to bring him to the screen with as much truth and drama and a real conflict that means something to me. And have him grow in a realistic way to either overcome that conflict or be swallowed by it.

"I'm glad those expectations are up. I'm excited about that."

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