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The many looks of Spider-Man in live-action

The many looks of Spider-Man in live-action

With great power comes lots of Spidey costumes. 

By Matthew Jackson

Show just about anyone on Earth a picture of Spider-Man in a red and blue costume, and they'll probably be able to tell you who he is — even if they've never experienced a single one of his adventures.

Ever since the Marvel hero's debut back in 1962, Spider-Man has been an iconic character thanks to his look alone, ranking alongside Batman and Superman as one of the most recognizable pop culture figures on Earth. That means that, when filmmakers adapt the character to the screen, they have to take a lot of time and effort to make sure that, no matter the variations, the character still looks like Spider-Man from every angle. That's led to a lot of different suit designs over the last few decades, and it's not always easy to keep them all straight. So, as we prepare for another Spidey adventure on the big screen, Spider-Man: No Way Home, let's take a look back at every official Spider-Man suit from live-action adaptations. 

The Classic Suit from The Amazing Spider-Man (1977)

In the 1970s, Spider-Man got his first taste of live-action with the short-lived (but fondly remembered) television series, The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Nicholas Hammond as Peter Parker. Because this was television in the 1970s, the resulting Spider-Man costume doesn't necessarily look all that sophisticated, but it does absolutely carry with it an air of comic book accuracy that even some film versions didn't manage to capture. Hammond's lanky frame is perfectly suited to a Steve Ditko-style rendering of the character, and while the black webbing lines on the costume could have been a bit thicker (and we could have used some web wings), that's basically what the costume gave us too. 

The Homemade Suit from Spider-Man (2002)

When lifelong comic book fan Sam Raimi was tasked with helming the first big-screen Spider-Man franchise, he decided to play things as close to the character's original 1962 origin story as he could for a modern audience. It's no surprise then that the first version of the Spider-Man costume in the film turns up in an amateur wrestling competition.

Fresh off his discovery that he has spider-powers, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) briefly dubs himself "The Human Spider," and shows up to the contest in blue sweatpants, a red, spider-embellished sweatshirt, a red balaclava, batting gloves, and some battered red Nikes. It's got a perfect "I threw this together from stuff in my closet" feel to it, and yet it still manages to echo the final costume to come. 

The Final Suit from Spider-Man (2002)

Presenting the first-ever, big budget, Hollywood version of a full-fledged Spider-Man costume was always going to be a challenge, because it meant both meeting fan expectations and crafting something pleasing to casual viewers who just wanted to see a fun movie. In the end, director Sam Raimi and costume designer James Acheson went for a look that largely feels pulled straight from the comics page.

It's got the red and blue colors, the red spider on the back, the black spider on the front, angular eye holes, and the classic, not-quite-V-shaped stripe of red running across the front of the torso. What made the costume stand out and look more visually dynamic for dialogue scenes, though, were two key departures. There's the suit's raised webbing, which went from black to a sort of shimmering gray; and it was cut three-dimensional to add texture to the suit. And then, there's the eyes, which were reflective — like mirror sunglasses — that could gleam against the New York City sunlight.

The Battle-Damaged Suit from Spider-Man 2 (2004)

When you find a look that works, changing the costume isn't necessarily a great plan, which is why Sam Raimi and company stuck with the same design from Spider-Man going into the sequel. 

Spider-Man 2, still considered by many to be the best live-action Spidey films, works with the original costume in part because it's about Peter confronting the burden of what it means to be Spider-Man after one successful adventure. It's a heavy load to carry, and at one point during the film, Pete gives up the suit when he realizes the toll that comes with wearing it. Of course, he eventually comes swinging back into action just in time to battle Doctor Octopus — ripping his suit to shreds in the process.

Here again, the original costume carries incredible thematic weight, as Peter loses his mask before a subway train full of astonished New Yorkers. They have now seen his face, which registers a beat of panic. But when they assure him his secret is safe with them, it's enough for him to keep going, and so thanks to a spare suit, the classic Raimi Spider-Man look returns.

The Black Suit from Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Though Spider-Man 3 is probably the least beloved of the Raimi era, if you were paying attention to superhero films at the time, you know that the hype around the Black Costume's first appearance in this threequel was very, very real.

A direct reference to a key comic book storyline, the suit was created when Peter's Spider-Man costume bonded with an alien Symbiote that granted him heightened powers, but not without a price. The black costume, therefore, became about more than a new look and new powers. It also became about Peter's own darkness, the ways in which he chose to use his power in the third film, and the lessons he learned from it.

Of course, in practice, it's really just the exact same costume used throughout the Raimi era, colored black, which adds an extra layer of symbolic emphasis to the arc.

The Amazing Suit from The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

In the Raimi era, the creative team made the gutsy call of giving Peter Parker organic web shooters in his wrists, eliminating the need for us to watch him create them. In the Marc Webb films that began with The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter once again followed his comic book origins and used synthetic webs in shooters attached to his wrists. This choice, and the sort of seat-of-your-pants, homebrew energy that star Andrew Garfield brought to his take on Peter, seems to inform a lot of what The Amazing Spider-Man's costume is about. For Amazing Spider-Man, the textured look is emphasized more in the space between the webbing than on the webbing itself, while the sleeves add more blue all the way down to the palms of the gloves.

Throw in the athletic, "Body Glove"-like accents along the torso, more rounded and sloped eyes that look rather intimidating, and you've got a costume that says "New Star, New Era."

The Sequel Suit from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

The Amazing Spider-Man had the tough act of the Raimi trilogy to follow, so it made sense that the creative team took some big swings to set themselves apart in terms of costume design. With Andrew Garfield established in the Spider-Man role for the sequel, though, they made another gutsy call and decided to reinvent the suit for the second film, with a more comics-accurate looking design.

Though the red and the blue look is considerably more muted than many of Spidey's comics appearances, the suit does add back in a great deal of red to the sleeves, restores the belt of red across the waist, and even exaggerates the webbing a bit more for a 3D, raised look that hearkens back to the Raimi days. Plus, the eye holes are considerably bigger and more Spidey-like. The costume didn't get a second chance to shine, but it definitely reads as a throwback to past Spidey successes. 

The First Stark Suit from Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Civil War was a hype machine for many reasons, but one of the key elements was its promise to introduce Tom Holland as the first Peter Parker of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he didn't disappoint. Though we catch glimpses of his first homemade costume (more on that in a second), Holland makes his proper Spider-Man debut in a suit designed for Peter Parker by none other than Tony Stark.

In terms of color, the red and blue pop, but they're also accented by a tactical-looking black around the joints and the waist. The webbing is also a bit more understated than it was in the Raimi years, with less texture to it, while the Spider emblem is considerably smaller. Then there's this suit's most memorable feature: The eyes, which use reactive lenses to change shape for the first time on the big screen. It's also, as Spider-Man: Homecoming later revealed, packed with special features, from an internal A.I. Peter dubs "Karen" to an ill-advised Instant Kill mode. 

Plus, we finally got web wings on a movie Spider-Man suit.

The Homemade Suit from Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Like Tobey Maguire before him, Tom Holland got to briefly run around in a homemade Spider-suit, even if we didn't see it until his second film appearance. Briefly glimpsed in the background of Civil War, the homemade suit feels very much like something Peter put together in his bedroom, featuring blue sweats under red boots and stocking, a red sleeveless hoodie (which feels like a nod to the Scarlet Spider even though the color scheme is reversed), and a red ski mask.

The most identifiable feature, once again, are the eyes, which are actually light-diffusing goggles Peter put together because, as he explained to Tony Stark, his senses are so heightened, he needs a little help to focus.  

The "Night Monkey" Suit from Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker doesn't take his Stark-designed Spider-Suit with him to Europe because he'd like a break from superheroics. But, Nick Fury doesn't take breaks, so Peter ends up with a "stealth" suit to aid in his battle against the Elementals in Europe.

Dubbed the "Night Monkey" suit by fans after Peter's friend Ned tried to deter anyone from associating it with Spider-Man, the suit's basically just a nice set of tactical clothes that is ideal for patrolling a city in the dark. This tactical attire also comes complete with some helpful Spider-Man, night vision-y goggles up top so Peter can see what's he's doing and get a little bit of Spider-Man Noir look along the way. Thematically, though, it's much more, as Peter begins reckoning with the kind of hero he wants to be after Tony Stark's death. 

The Iron Spider suit from Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Though Tony Stark doesn't have nearly as much to do with Peter Parker's costumes in the comics as he does in the movies, the genius behind Iron Man did build at least one key comic book suit for Peter once upon a time, and by Infinity War, the movie version had arrived.

Dubbed the "Iron Spider" for its obvious connections to Iron Man tech, the suit retains key elements of the Civil War design, but makes everything armored and metallic, from the larger blue spider emblem on the chest to the gold accents around the chest and soldiers. Plus, it's packed with new features for Peter to fight with, most memorably a set of four retractable "legs" that help him brace against things, move quickly, and even act as a roll cage when he gets knocked down. 

The Black and Red Suit from Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

By the end of Far From Home, Peter's back is against the wall thanks to Mysterio's theft of his bequeathed Stark tech and a world that's been deceived by the villainous and his drone swarm. To fight back, it turns out that all Peter needs is a little time and a little imagination... and a private jet full of leftover Stark tech. 

The result is a new suit that merges the classic red of Spider-Man with black accents that replace the blue, symbolizing a departure for Peter into a post-Stark world, one where he'll have to learn a little more how to make his own way. Though we haven't seen everything we can do yet in the movies, the addition of the black is a nice symbolic touch — especially we since that things get very dark for Peter by the end of this film. 

The Black and Gold Suit from Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

We are now in relatively uncharted territory, as we've only seen this new costume emerge in brief glimpses in trailers for No Way Home. We know very little about how Peter gets it, where he gets it, or what it does. But the glimpses provided audiences so far suggest a certain merging between the world of Peter Parker and the world of Doctor Strange.

The all-black look is heavily accent by what look like golden magical runes in the boxes between the webbing, and in one key shot from the trailer it looks like Peter is wielding some kind of magic rune on his wrist, similar to those that Strange uses. It'll be very interesting to see how this suit plays out when No Way Home swings into theaters.