NOTE: Many times, after Spider-Man 3's release, I have had dreams of going to see Spider-Man 4 and then waking up and being disappointed that it wasn't real. Isn't it fascinating what we can brew in our skulls when we are fast asleep?
I always fancied the film being called Spider-Man 4: The Wrath of Carnage. It's similar to the second Star Trek film being called Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. But now that I ponder on the matter, I think Spider-Man 4: The Maximum Carnage is a more appropriate title, and a perfect homage to one of my favorite comic book series and one of my favorite video games. And yes, straight from the title, you can assume that Carnage is the main villain, but carnage can also mean extreme murder and chaos. However, it wouldn't make sense to call the film The Maximum Carnage and not have Carnage be the main baddy. After all, with Venom appearing at the very end of Spider-Man 3 and Dr. Connors having a bit of the symbiote in his office, it could be possible that the symbiote evolves into the chaotic red and black alien we all know him as and the menace could take over the psychotic Ravencroft mass murderer, Cletus Cassidy. Movies change things all the time, so I could totally see this happening if Spider-Man 4 were an actual film. And for some reason, I always imagined Jim Carrey playing Cletus Kassidy, probably because of his excellent performance in the movie The Number 23.
Now on with the tale
It's been 2 years since the events of Spider-Man 3. Peter Parker and Mary Jane are married and Aunt May is currently at a home for older citizens. Spider-Man is still a loved hero who always saves the day from mass criminals. But one day, Peter's old lab partner, Gwen Stacy is kidnapped by a mad man named Cletus Kassidy. As Spider-Man tries to rescue her, Kassidy throws her off the side of a building. Spider-Man tries to catch her with a web, but the whiplash effect snaps her neck, killing her as several people watch from below. Kassidy escapes and Spider-Man is made out to be a murderer by the citizens of New York, including Gwen's father, Captain George Stacey. As he is hunted by the police for several days, Peter comes to the decision to give up being Spider-Man once and for all. Mary Jane agrees with his decision and they store the Spider-Man costume away in the attic of their new house.
6 years later, Cletus Kassidy is chased and caught by the police after robbing a small grocery store in Manhattan. As Kassidy is put away in Ravencroft Institute, it is revealed that the crime level of New York has risen since Spider-Man's retirement and several crime thugs are still walking about the streets causing havoc. J. Jonah Jameson is made out to be the new hero of New York after writing several pieces on the dreaded Spider-Man and how he is a menace. Spider-Man has lost his key to the city honor and is made out to be the most wanted man in New York. But Peter Parker's life has gotten back to normal as he is able to spend more time with his loved ones and his wife. He has quit his job as a photographer and is working as a professor at Empire State University. As they go to visit Aunt May in the senior home, she speaks of her disgust of the home and her desire to come and live with Peter and MJ. The two decide to think about it, and over dinner that same night, they decide that it is okay for her to come and live with them. That evening as he sleeps, Peter has a horrible nightmare of the night Gwen Stacy died and the night his best friend Harry Osborn died. Believing that it's a sign that danger is coming, Peter talks with MJ about becoming Spider-Man again, MJ not allowing him too because of him being a fugitive.
The next day, Peter and MJ help Aunt May move into their home, just as Peter is called in by Dr. Connors at his lab. As Peter arrives at the lab, Dr. Connors tells him that the symbiote Peter gave him 8 years ago has matured greatly, doubling in size and turning bright red. He also tells Peter that he is currently working with lizard DNA to regenerate his lost arm. Peter wishes him luck as he leaves, and that same night, Dr. Connors works up a formula, injects himself with it, and regrows his arm to his delight. He calls in Peter the next day to show him his success, and as he shows Peter how regrowing his arm was done, he begins twitching and growing scales all over his body. Before Peter's eyes, Dr. Connors turns into a giant lizard monster, reigning havoc on the university and destroying the lab. During the rampage, the Lizard inadvertently shatters the glass containing the symbiote, setting it free. As the Lizard spreads chaos throughout the city, Peter races home, secretly snatches his Spider-Man suit (much to MJ and Aunt May's suspicion) and returns to the public as Spider-Man. After fighting and defeating the Lizard, Spidey is chased by the police, but he swiftly escapes. Back at home, Aunt May takes a nap as MJ tends to Peter's wounds, scolding him and expressing her anger with him over donning the Spider-Man suit once more. She also tells him of the possibility of Aunt May finding out that Peter is Spider-Man, but Peter states that he will never let that happen. That same night, Peter has another nightmare, this time, of a red monster similar to Venom, causing mass murder throughout New York and killing Peter's loved ones.
Meanwhile, the Lizard is imprisoned in Ravencroft Institute in a cell right next to Cletus Kassidy's padded room. Surprisingly, the alien symbiote follows the Lizard to Ravencroft and mistakes his cell for Kassidy's. As the alien approaches Kassidy, Kassidy tells it to stay away, just as the alien engulfs Cletus, turning him into a horrifying monster. As the officers hear Kassidy's screams, they enter his cell and are instantly killed by the newly formed Carnage. After going on a rampage throughout the institute, Carnage sets free all the prisoners of Ravencroft, including the Lizard, as he forms an army to take over New York with a wrath of terror. Carnage tracks down and kills all the New York representatives, stating that he is the new ruler of the city and that everything will go under his ruling. The Lizard will serve as his second in command as they warn Spider-Man to never get involved in their affairs over a TV broadcast. If he does, they will kill him as well as his loved ones. After several weeks under Carnage's reign, several innocent lives are lost as Peter tries to convince MJ that he needs to become Spider-Man in order to stop Carnage. MJ is reluctant to allow Peter to don the Spider-Man suit again, for she still fears that Aunt May may find out and that Carnage may come after them. Peter states again that he will not let that happen and states that if he can defeat Venom, Carnage shouldn't be a problem. Neither should the Lizard, for Spider-Man has defeated him before. Getting angry at Peter, MJ storms off, stating that if he wants to go after Carnage, he can go right ahead. She then warns him that if he fails, her and Aunt May will go into hiding and never come back.
So Peter goes after Carnage, tracking him down at city hall. As he confronts Carnage, Carnage tells him that he should have never come after him and that he will have to pay for his treachery. The two then engage in a violent brawl in which Carnage gains the upper hand, brutally beating Spider-Man and stabbing him with his sharp fingers. As he picks up Spidey by both arms, he slowly breaks them just as he does the same thing to his legs, continuously kicking him and breaking his ribs as well. He then cracks Peter's skull and drags him outside of city hall where he broadcasts the beaten Spider-Man in front of millions of people. He then climbs to the top of city hall with Spidey and drops him several stories to the hard ground below. Carnage then states that this will happen to all those who stand in his way and that he will find the ones affiliated with Spider-Man and kill them. Mary Jane and Aunt May watch the television in horror as MJ tries to figure out a way in which for them to go into hiding. They move into Aunt May's old apartment as MJ tells Aunt May that there was a water leakage in the house's basement. She also tells May that Peter is off on a trip with his college students and won't be back for a few weeks.
Several weeks go by and Spider-Man is still held captive by Carnage, beaten and starved and kept in a dark prison cell under city hall. As he is confronted by Carnage, Carnage tells him that he knows he is Peter Parker and he demands to know the location of his loved ones. Peter then tells Carnage that he might as well kill him, for he will not get any information regarding his loved ones from him. Carnage laughs and says that he will not kill him, but instead keep him alive so he can witness Aunt May and Mary Jane's deaths right in front of him. Carnage vows to track down Peter's loved ones in one way or another, and when his aunt and wife are dead, then he will kill him. He then leaves Spidey's cell, letting the Lizard maul the frail Spider-Man. Meanwhile, Aunt May and Mary Jane are talking and Mary Jane decides to tell May the truth about Peter, however, as she does, Carnage and his soldiers storm into May's apartment, snatching May and Mary Jane and bringing them to city hall. As they bring May and Mary Jane before Spider-Man, Carnage calls him Peter right in front of May, deeply shocking May as Carnage smacks her. As Spider-Man yells for Carnage to leave her alone, Carnage torments Spidey right in front of his aunt and his wife, and Mary Jane even attempts to fight Carnage, only to be taken out in an instant.
As Carnage and Lizard prepare to murder Mary Jane and May, Spider-Man is able to build up enough strength to break free from his cuffs and engage the two in a fight, despite the horrible pain he feels from his broken bones. As he gallantly fights Carnage and Lizard, he yells for Mary Jane and May to leave, just as he is horribly beaten some more by Carnage's supreme power. Luckily, Mary Jane and May do not leave, and they are able to sweep the fallen Spider-Man away before Carnage eliminates him. Days go by, and Peter is treated for his terrible injuries under Carnage's imprisonment. As he returns home for a few weeks of recovery, May speaks of her disappointment of him not telling her that he was Spider-Man. Peter states that he couldn't endanger her life as May states that Uncle Ben would be disappointed in him. She then packs her bags and leaves the Parker home, going back to her older home where she and Ben raised Peter. That same day, Carnage broadcasts a message for Spider-Man, stating that he must come before him to reveal his secret identity to the public in 3 days, and everyday he doesn't, he will take the lives of many innocent people. If, at the end of the 3 days, that Spider-Man has not shown his secret identity to the public, he will rig explosives throughout the entire state of New York and blow it to ashes.
As many people suffer, Peter tries to talk with Mary Jane about whether or not he should reveal himself or not. Mary Jane states that she doesn't want to get involved with this anymore and states that this is a battle he must fight on his own. She tells Peter that she wants a divorce and leaves the house, reducing Peter to tears. As Peter is heartbroken, he still tries to decide whether to reveal his identity or cost New York millions and millions of innocent deaths. 2 days go by and Peter decides not to reveal his identity, nor let Carnage blow New York to smithereens. He decides to build a resistance to stop Carnage, and after freeing himself from his casts, he gathers many people to take on Carnage and his forces, hoping to stop them once and for all. Peter sews his costume, and on the third day, he leads a revolution against Carnage's forces, fighting both Carnage and the Lizard as his men take on Carnage's men. During the fight, Spider-Man knocks the Lizard through the top of a building as he transforms back into Dr. Connors and he continues to gallantly fight Carnage, this time getting the upper hand and giving Carnage a taste of his own medicine. Still, Carnage ravages Spider-Man, ripping his costume and smashing him around. As they fight towards one of the detonating devices, Carnage ignites it and kicks Spider-Man into it, just as Spider-Man pulls Carnage in with him using his web. The device goes off, but Spider-Man and Carnage's proximity to the bomb doesn't allow it to cause that much damage, but Carnage is killed and Spider-Man is grievously injured. Mary Jane witnesses the event from a distant and runs for the mortally wounded Peter, who tells her that he is sorry for everything he has brought upon her and May. Mary Jane accepts his apology as the two share one last kiss before Peter's death.
Spider-Man is given a state funeral as J. Jonah Jameson gives a heartfelt speech about how Spider-Man was a symbol of hope and a person who was always willing to help. It is then revealed that the crime level has gone down considerably after Spider-Man's death and that Dr. Connors is still being held at Ravencroft for his crimes. Mary Jane is revealed to be pregnant with Peter's child, and Aunt May is seen putting flowers on Peter's grave, which is right next to his Uncle Ben's. About 10 years later, Mary Jane has remarried and has given birth to a son, which she names Peter in honor of her fallen husband. As young Peter wonders into his father's study, he discovers his father's designs for mechanical web shooters (designed back when Peter was loosing his powers in Spider-Man 2) and discovers a chest with an unused Spider-Man suit within it. Just for fun, he puts the mask on.