Spider-Man's Costume: Why's It Special?

In the comics, Spider-Man's costume is a perfect example of some of the best Silver Age costume design that there was. It's like Hal Jordan's Green Lantern costume, except with more cool stuff going for it and way harder to draw. It's so iconic that, even though Peter changes costumes more often than most, the chances of the comic book version ever moving away from the classic Spidey costume for too long are pretty slim.

But what about the movies?

So far, we've had four major feature films, none of which really took much in the way of chances with the character's look. Why isn’t it more like Batman’s costume, which is always changing? Shouldn’t we be able to get a new Spidey costume every movie like we do with Iron Man and whomever else?

Original trilogy director Sam Raimi set a standard of reverence for the comic book version of Spider-Man’s costume that, frankly, no other superhero movie has ever really had—at least not since Tim Burton’s Batman changed the game. Even while fans griped about the suit’s texture or the webshooters or what-have-you, Spider-Man not only never changed his look throughout three movies (other than, you know, for story reasons), but the look they chose was decidedly loyal to the comics.

Even in The Amazing Spider-Man, the rebooted version with a "darker and grittier" feel and a decidedly less fantastical take on New York City and superheroics, the costume changes are pretty minor--but they still have generated a ton of controversy and complaints ever since fans first started seeing promotional posters and stills from the set.

There's something about the character--maybe it's just that there have been so many different looks at his costume, from Stark Technologies-provided armored versions to the brightly-colored and web-caped 2099 version, which have taken hold in the public's imagination--that makes artists want to put their own stamp on the character. It was pretty clear from the nearly ten alternate looks for the character that hit the Web this weekend that the studio was interested in taking a little bit of a chance--but they played it pretty conservative and now have people complaining that they're "too much like" the Raimi films.

And yet others complaining about the minor tweaks.

Why isn't Spider-Man like Batman? The costume and the car are expected to be reinvented slightly each film. If they aren't, it's almost as though somebody's going to be accused of slacking. Yet somehow, of all the heroes onscreen, you've got this one guy whose fans would rather he just stay the same forever.