Well, it was inevitable really, in fact, it’s a bit of a surprise that it’s taken the Spider-Man Rebake rumour mill this long to churn it out, but tabloid gossip rag OK has published an article claiming that Zac Efron has signed on to play Peter Parker.

It’s pretty certain that this is a pack of lies. For a start, it has all the hallmarks of a British-Tabloid-Bullshit-Article, which usually links an A-list actor to a hot franchise. This one goes one step further, however, by throwing in a former co-star Vanessa Hudgens for good measure.

That, by the way, is even more likely to be rubbish.

What’s even more suspect about the article is that it went up on a Sunday, the one day of the week when no-one connected to Efron or Sony will be answering calls or e-mails about daft tabloid rumours. Ideal if you want your hit-whorish casting rumour to permeate the interwebs.

If we’re really going to go to town on destroying the rumour there’s also the ludicrous, million fee he has been ‘offered’. That’s over 10% of the film’s entire budget. If there were any truth to it, you can forget seeing the Web-slinger swinging through New York, with explosions in the background. The closest the film would come would be Peter Parker setting off fire crackers in his bedroom.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that Efron’s forthcoming role in The Life and Death of Charlie St Cloud, as well as his previous performance in Me and Orson Wells, seem to be steering his career towards serious fare. While Spider-Man might be a good move in the short term, it’s not going to help him gain recognition as a ‘proper’ actor in the long run.

While we’re on the subject of Efron’s other roles, he’s currently linked to somewhere around four projects, Johnny Quest, an untitled project that he may be exec. producing, and two projects that only came to light four days ago. If Spider-man were really on the cards would he really have so many roles lined up? Many of which would almost certainly be shooting around the same time.

Slashfilm’s Brendon Connelly has pointed out one, slim, possibility for the rumour being true. One of the roles Efron is linked to is in a film called Fire, which s being written by Ultimate Spider-man scribe Brian M. Bendis. Sony and Webb have already confirmed that Ultimate Spidey is the template for the new Spider-Man film, and Connelly’s theory is that Bendis has been brought on to re-write the film, and dragged Efron along for the ride, although he also points out how unlikely this is.

Any readers who follow both myself and Connelly on Twitter* will know that we have a bit of a friendly professional rivalry. In the spirit of that rivalry, I’m going to propose another theory.

The theory is that the rumour itself is due to Efron’s links with Bendis. Some hack in OK’s offices has heard that Efron is linked with an adaptation of a Bendis comic, run a Google search and jumped to the wrong conclusion. He’s then added his own sprinkling of made-up bollocks, cribbing from other articles – The Maguire endorsement based on the rumour that Rami endorsed Nimród Antal, the $9 million figure, possibly, derived from the fact that Marvel signed a nine-picture deal with Sam Jackson – for good measure, because that’s what happens in mainstream British ‘journalism’, and set it lose, to pollute websites and pub conversations with disinformation until someone actually IS cast as Spider-Man.

Frankly, I suspect we’re both wrong, but you never know. Maybe this will be the British tabloid rumour that turns out to be true. One of them has to. One day. Maybe.

*If not, why not. The man’s a bloody genius.