Regular readers of this column will know that we followed development of the ill-fated musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark throughout its long gestation period, and, subsequently, its financially disastrous run on Broadway.

Extraordinary new material has come to light, pertaining to the scene in which Peter Parker triumphantly discovers his new spider powers while alone in his bedroom. The original song for this moment, provided by Bono and The Edge, was called Bouncing off the Walls, and featured the following chorus:

I’m bouncing off the walls,

Bouncing off the walls,

Bouncing off the walls,

Bouncing off the walls.

The show’s producers considered this unsatisfactory, and Bono and The Edge were tasked with re-writing the piece, which they did by penning new verses and leaving the chorus alone.

Only now do we know that, while waiting for the new song, Marvel secretly approached other Broadway songwriters to pen their own efforts, including the master himself, Stephen Sondheim! What could possibly have persuaded the great composer/lyricist to work for them? A note pinned to following draft lyric reads 'Steve, Marvel say if you do this they might convince Disney not to utterly cock up ITW. [1] Love, James.'

Note that Sondheim was obliged to retain the song’s title, since programmes had already been printed.


PETER is discovered. He untangles himself from the bedclothes.




Morning dawns,

A day like any other:

Absent father,

Dead mother.


See the teen, no superhero,

See the boy, 

A faux-King of Queens within,

Inauspiciously begin

His reign.


He stands up, and briefly loses his balance, only to regain it by performing an elegant handstand. Throughout the following his actions grow more impressive.




Then, with a spin,

From a stumble,

Now a fumble, careering,

Ah! The hero's appearing,


He pirouettes.

I pirouette!

And I find

I'm adhering

To a vertically inclined plane!


And indeed he is.




Guess I had a little too much 

Mary Jane.


Now I'm bouncing off the walls.

I Baryshnikov the walls!

I blastoff in castoffs,

Pouncing off the walls! [2]


Look! See them trembling,


Hand that boy-king his crown!

I'm bouncing off the walls

Until my walls come down.


Unwittingly, PETER fires web from his wrists.




Wait a bit.

Oh, shit! [3]


Where's my sock?

Turn off the ammunition!

Talk about a nocturnal emission!


He begins to shoot deliberately, gaining control, and providing his own athletic commentary.




Swik! [4]

And he's deployed a burst

By the Pink Floyd poster!


That's a first!

He's barrelled, and—



Enjoyed that, 

That's a stunt Harold Lloydian [5]


A bit Freudian,

Walls covered in goo,


Not the first teenage boy

In his bedroom

To discover what a wrist can do.



Things are getting sticky,

But who can say no?


Without a knock, the bedroom door opens.




Aunt May? No!


Peter J Casey is a composer and lyricist. Read more of his work on his blog and follow him on Twitter @peterjcasey.

  1. Into the Woods
  2. A note in the margin reads 'Mazel tov the walls? Eh, probably not.'
  3. Margin note reads 'I'll be the first to make Spider-Man swear!'
  4. Margin note reads 'Amazing Spider-Man #121 (1973)'
  5. Margin note reads 'They can look it up.'

Next: Newton's Law, by Chris Lassig

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