Luke Owen looks a the history of Spider-Man in movies…
With Spider-Man currently leaping into headlines around the Internet following his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in the latest trailer for Captain America: Civil War [watch it here], a lot is being said about his costume. While it certainly evokes that Ditko style of the 1960s, there are some who think it’s the worst costume the character has ever worn. The animated eyes haven’t seemed to help matters [read the Flickering Myth reaction here].
So why don’t we take a trip down memory lane and look at other big-screen versions of your Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man…
1978’s Spider-Man Strikes Back
The above image is taken from a TV movie which span off from the 1977 TV series The Amazing Spider-Man. The pilot episode was released as a feature film, but several episodes of the shows were re-edited together to create Spider-Man Strikes Back (a full two years before The Empire did it) which was released outside of the US. This tactic was used again for the 1979 TV movie Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge, but the show was cancelled after two seasons in the same year. Plans to revive the show came around in the 1980s to cross over with CBS’s successful series based on The Incredible Hulk were talked about, but nothing ever came of it (although Thor and Daredevil would appear in TV movies released after that show went off the air). As for the costume… well look at it. It’s very in-keeping with the comics at the time and has stood the test of time about as well as Adam West’s Batman suit does.
Japanese studio Toei had their own show in their native country titled Supaidāman. Although his costume (sort of) resembled that of the comics, Supaidāman was very different from the source material. Supaidāman used a lot of weapons and even controlled a giant robot named Leopardon which he would summon to thwart his kaiju foe. Well, movies like Godzilla and shows like Ultraman being popular at the time among kids, Supaidāman really needed giant robots and monsters to fight. However unlike Spider-Man Strikes Back, Supaidāman got its own proper spin-off movie that is said to take place between episode 10 and 11. It’s utterly bonkers but in a brilliant way. The suit may not look great by 2016 eyes, but wait until we get to The Amazing Spider-Man and see how close the two are.
The 1980s and 1990s were tough on Spider-Man. He was originally going to get a big screen adventure under the Cannon Films label with Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) directing that would have seen Peter Parker as a literal Spider Man (the script saw a photographer subjected to radiation and become an eight-armed hairy monster) and when all that fell through, James Cameron (Aliens) was set to direct in the early 90s. His treatment would have been unlike anything we’ve seen before and since for the character on screen, including a lot of bad language and Spidey and Mary Jane getting it jiggy with it on the Brooklyn Bridge. Nothing came to pass, but eventually we got…
Sam Raimi brought Web Head back to the big screen with Spider-Man in 2002. Released shortly after Bryan Singer’s X-Men, Spider-Man is credited for the comic book movie boom of the early 2000s which saw the likes of Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Hulk and Ghost Rider attempt and fail to cash in on its success. It was also the first movie to change from the previously tried and tested cloth material for spandex. While some of the CGI on the suit looks a bit tired and weary by 2016 standards, this was a great costume for Spider-Man.
2007’s Spider-Man 3
For his third outing, Raimi had his hand forced against him by the studio to follow the iconic Symbiote storyline from the comics. The story would introduce fan-favourite Venom in the mix, which messed with Raimi’s plans to focus the film on The Sandman. The final result is evident in that really, as both Sandman and Venom are underdeveloped and the whole movie is an uneven mess. Got to love that dancing sequence though. The costume was basically the same one seen in the first two movies only this time it’s black. So… there isn’t much to say. Pretty sweet though, eh? I can remember vividly the first time images of this suit were leaked online and everyone exploded in excitement. If only we knew, if only we knew…
2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man
Following the disastrous Spider-Man 3 and angry conversations between Sony and Raimi over the future of the series, the director opted not to return for Spider-Man 4. Instead the ironically named Mark Webb took over to tell another version of The Web Crawler with 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Seemingly trying to tap into that teeny-bop success of Twilight and the billion-dollar grittiness of The Dark Knight, The Amazing Spider-Man introduced a more ‘grounded’ version of the Spider suit. The result? Well… that’s up for debate. Personally I feel this is the worst Spider-Man has ever looked on screen but there are those who think it’s pretty cool. The colours seem in the wrong places and the yellow eyes are very similar to the pretty cheap Supaidāman. To each their own, I guess. They soon fixed the costume though…
2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Now we’re talking. For me, this is the finest representation of Spider-Man’s costume committed to screen thus far. It’s very 1990s Todd MacFarlane Spidey with its huge eyes, and the way he moves in the suit is exactly how you would picture him doing it from the comic pages. The problem was that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was an amazing level of dross. And as such, plans for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and 4 (not to mention Sinister Six and Spider-Woman) all fell through. Not so much of a shame when you see what Webb and Sony produced in their short 2-year run, but a shame not to see where they would have taken the suit next.
2016’s Captain America: Civil War
Instead Spidey is now back at Marvel (kind of) and part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to play with his Avengers chums. This costume is classic 60s Steve Ditko Spider-Man with tiny white eyes and huge black surrounds. The colours are there and even the small spider logo on his chest is in place. In fact, the giant red spider logo that I remember for my toys growing up can be seen in the shot prior to this, again hearkening back to the origins of the character. The animated eyes are again up for debate (I’m not a fan), but the suit is a great representation of the character.
We’ve come a long way since the 1970s but amazingly we’ve gone back to the 60s for his 2016 recent look. Funny how the world works sometimes. Which is your favourite spidey costume?
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