As soon as it was announced that Sam Raimi was off Spider-Man 4 I was e-mailed by three different friends in the film industry, and they all said the same name for the next director:

Marc Webb.

He’s the guy who did (500) Days of Summer, and he is the hottest young director today. Hollywood is like a big momma bird to him, and they’re just trying to shove money down his little baby bird beak. Offers come at this dude from every side; it’s like watching the end of a gang bang video, just money shot after money shot.

Now Michael Fleming is reporting Webb as the frontrunner, but I don’t know if this is real or not. I don’t doubt that Sony has Webb on their list, and when you get three industry types all coming to you with the same name within hours of the initial news break, you know that this  guy is on Hollywood’s mind. But what does that mean?

For one thing Webb has to think hard about what kind of career he wants. Signing on to Spider-Man Love Mary Jane: The Motion Picture means the next few years of his life are spoken for. That’s great on one hand, but if you’re not looking to be just a blockbuster director that’s kind of a scary proposition. But who knows what Webb wants to do – he’s only made one movie so far, although he’s done a bunch of videos and stuff. Maybe he never wants to go to Sundance again.

What’s really intriguing to me is that Webb feels like a split down the middle decision – he is stylish (I didn’t really like (500) Days of Summer very much, but it looks good and it essentially works. Most of my problems were deep script issues, like finding the whole film’s conceit irritating), but he’s new. He can perhaps bring good work to Spider-Man - he’s no paycheck hack (we think) but he’s also new enough that Sony can boss him around.

So that’s the good news, that Sony isn’t going for just anybody who can get the film in the can for a 2012 release. That said, I would be more excited if (500) Days of Summer wasn’t a glib rip-off of Annie Hall.