Spider-Man has come a long way since his humble beginnings. When he first stepped into the wrestling ring, he was wearing a sweater and his head was covered in webbing. Now he’s one of the most recognizable superheroes of all time. That red and blue suit has been sketched by dozens of artists over its 60 years in existence. Sometimes it has web wings, other times it doesn’t. In some versions, Peter Parker crafted his own web shooters and web fluid, while in other versions the radioactive spider gave him the power to shoot organic webs out of his wrists that were equal parts effective and disgusting.
In every version, Peter Parker is a skilled inventor and scientist. He’s had to make all kinds of modifications to his suit over the years. That’s not taking into account he other people who have worn the suit as well as the other people who have helped him in modifying his own. One thing is clear: there is more to Spider-Man’s suit that meets the eye. The costume alone has a richer history than many comic book characters ever have the chance to experience. Let’s take a look at 15 weird facts you probably didn’t know about Spider-Man’s suit.
15. HE TUCKS HIS CAMERA UNDER THE SUIT
Everyone knows that Spider-Man made early money as a photographer. The animated series as well as the Sam Raimi films delve into this a little bit. Neither shows the true struggle Peter had to face for his shots though. Peter bought a small camera that he modified to fit snug on his utility belt under his costume. In early fights, he would simply snap pictures of his enemies before they noticed he was there. This posed a larger problem: Spider-Man wasn’t in these shots.
After an early fight with The Sandman, Peter had an ingenious idea: He set up his camera and got a bucket of sand.
Then he threw sand in the air while his timed camera took pictures of him punching at it. He theorized that since the fight had just happened, this wasn’t unethical. To him, it was just like re-shooting a movie scene.
14. HIS SUITS ARE MOSTLY HAND SEWN
When Peter became Spider-Man, he was just a teenager. That came with a lack of experience, but it also came with a lack of funds. As such, his original Spider-Man costume was hand sewn by Peter himself. You’d think that at some point Peter would have gotten a clue. Perhaps after the metal suit worked so well he might have worked that into his main costume? But no, it took the genius of Tony Stark to upgrade Spidey’s suit.
During Civil War, Tony gives Peter the Iron Spider suit. When Peter asks what was wrong with the old one, Tony responds that it was made of cloth. Thanks to Doc Ock, Peter became CEO of Parker Industries and built himself a nigh invincible new suit with that money. He’s since lost the company and the cash that came with it, so maintaining that suit has become impossible. Cloth it is!
13. HE ONCE HAD TO MAKE A VERSION WITH SIX ARMS
Peter Parker has had to come to terms with his secret identity on more than one occasion. He has the worst luck of almost any superhero. Fans remember him abandoning the costume in Spider-Man 2. This idea was based on a story that happened in the ’70s. Peter grew tired of everyone he loved dying. So he developed a serum meant to suppress his spider powers.
The serum had the opposite effect — it amplified his abilities and gave him four extra arms.
In an alternate timeline, Spider-Man kept the arms. They were strange to get used to, but the enhanced powers actually made his life better. He was able to save Gwen Stacy from the Green Goblin! In that timeline, Mr. Fantastic helped him develop a suit that would hide his extra appendages while he wasn’t in costume.
12. THE LENSES WORK LIKE TWO WAY GLASS
One of Spider-Man’s toughest challenges has been hiding his identity. Like many superheroes, he fears that information might lead to his loved ones getting hurt. The mask muffles his voice, but that’s not the only thing it does though. The eye pieces are actually made out of reflective glass. This allows Spider-Man to be able to see everything around him while no villain can see his real eyes. They also have properties that protect him from hypnotic attacks.
This has been quietly adapted into most film versions. The Raimi costume was very faithful. The Amazing Spider-Man versions did they same thing, but we can all agree they looked a little weird. The MCU version does all of this and more, they the eyes are also able to emote the same way they do in the comics.
11. MILES MORALES’ FIRST SUIT WAS A HALLOWEEN COSTUME
Did you know that Peter Parker died? Not on our Earth, but on another Earth and it was pretty brutal. After a last fight with the Green Goblin, there wasn’t much of him left to bury. Enter Miles Morales, another teenager with spider powers and a death wish. He felt like that classic draw towards great responsibility. The problem was that he wasn’t a scientist like Peter.
So he put on a Halloween costume and started fighting crime as Spider-Man.
At first he was very poorly received. Peter Parker had died a hero, and the public saw this new Spider-Man as a copycat who was insulting the original’s image. It didn’t help that he wasn’t very good at his job when he started out. Eventually people came around though.
10. HE ONCE WORE FOUR DIFFERENT COSTUMES
“Identity Crises” is one of Spider-Man’s more ridiculous tales, which is saying something. It’s also a lot of fun. Norman Osborn frames Spider-Man for murder. Peter pushes his skills to the limit and comes up with four new costumed identities to patrol the city in. Two of these identities were new heroes. The Hornet used a jet-pack and sedative darts. Prodigy was excellent at parkour. The other two identities were villains. Ricochet was streetwise with a quick mouth and Dusk was essentially a ninja.
Each of these identities came with a snazzy new suit. He used them together to clear his name. They were later adopted by a team who call themselves The Slingers. This group of over excited teenagers still shows up from time to time, most recently to make Ben Reilly’s life a little harder than it already is.
9. SOMETIMES IT’S MADE OF METAL
Peter Parker is a genius inventor. That comes in handy sometimes when he’s in over his head. In the early ’90s, he came up against a group called The New Enforcers. It was a complicated story, filled with various parties vying to regain control of the criminal underworld.
Basically, Spider-Man was caught in between three camps fighting with high powered weapons.
So his response was to build himself a metal suit. The suit was destroyed by a cold ray in that very fight. It was very popular though, so Marvel as since brought it back. In the Spider-Man: The Animated Series, a rich and successful Peter Parker from another universe wears the armored suit as his regular one. The suit has also been included in a number of video games. It also made for great toy sales.
8. HE STILL KEEPS THAT BLACK SUIT AROUND
Many people think that the black suit went away when the symbiote went away. That’s a misconception though. Spider-Man actually keeps a cloth version of that suit in his wardrobe.
Everyone remembers the part about the costume turning out to be alive. After he rejected it, Black Cat made him a new one out of cloth. It looked the same except that it wasn’t trying to bond with him. Cat did this because she found that Spidey looked sexier in black. Peter returned to the red and blue when Venom revealed himself. He never threw away the black version though. He’s actually worn it on a few occasions since, including in the much maligned “Brand New Day” storyline. It is his second most iconic look, after all.
7. IN THE FUTURE HIS COSTUME IS JUST A JACKET
We’re not referring to Spider-Man 2099. In this case, we’re talking about an older version of Peter Parker. In this timeline, Peter’s life took a dark turn. It was a possible future shown to a young Peter by Madame Web. Peter was driven to a breaking point by Kraven, forcing the web-slinger to finally kill the hunter. After crossing that line, his view on life became much grimmer.
He drove his family members away and was expelled from The Avengers and he even killed Doctor Octopus.
To reflect this anti-hero personality, his suit changed as well. It became much simpler. The mask remained the same, but it was filled out by a jacket with a spider symbol on it, a pair of red gloves and a pair of blue jeans. Future Peter was killed in a shootout with the police.
6. DOC OCK’S VERSION HAS FOUR MECHANICAL ARMS
Did you know that our Peter Parker also died? In what was probably Otto Octavius’ greatest triumph, he managed to switch bodies with Spider-Man just in time for his old body to fail completely. Peter Parker died in the arms of one of his greatest enemies who had succeeded in stealing his body. How’s that for messed up?
In the months that followed, Ock vowed to be a better Spider-Man than Peter had ever been. He did this by making updates everywhere he could, including to the costume. He changed the color scheme to make it look more sinister and, more importantly, he added four mechanical arms. He did this because why wouldn’t he? It’s actually part of how the Green Goblin figures out that Spider-Man isn’t Spider-Man — it was a careless move on Dock Ock’s part. It made for some really cool comic book art though.
5. KRAVEN ONCE WORE THE SUIT
For a little while Kraven the Hunter was obsessed with Spider-Man. He didn’t just want to kill him, he wanted to consume and become him. It was pretty weird, truth be told. To this end, he drugged Spider-Man and buried him alive and Spidey spent two weeks in a coffin. During this time, Kraven took on Spider-Man’s mantle. He wore the costume and he also ate a lot of spiders.
When Spider-Man did escape, Kraven wouldn’t fight him — in his mind, he had won.
He also conceded that Spider-Man was a good person, something he had never even considered before. At the end of “Kraven’s Last Hunt”, he shot himself in the head. The whole thing left Peter scratching his head for weeks. Definitely one of the more chilling Spider-Man stories.
4. THERE HAVE BEEN OVER A DOZEN VERSIONS
Peter Parker has been Spider-Man since he was 15 years old. In comic book time, that’s anywhere between 10 and 15 years. That’s a lot of time to come up with new designs. The Peter Parker from Earth-616 (“our Earth”) has worn over a dozen versions of his own costume. That’s without taking into account the number of clones he currently has running around. Both Scarlet Spiders have their own variation on the original costume and even Doctor Octopus was also a Spider-Person during a time.
Throw into that mix the number of film, television, cartoon and video game adaptations and the number of different versions of Spider-Man’s suit could be in the triple digits. The one thing they all have in common? With great power…you know the drill.
3. THE JAPANESE VERSION SHOOTS OUT OF A BRACELET
Spider-Man is Marvel’s most popular character. He’s so popular that other production companies have benefited from using his image. One of the more creative instances of this was the Japanese Spider-Man. This version looked like ours with a few very key differences. For one, he was able to deploy his costume from a bracelet on his wrist.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s similar to how The Flash deploys his costume from his ring.
This version of Spider-Man also access to a ship called The Marveller. When necessary, this ship turned into a giant robot called Leopardon which Spider-Man could then pilot to fight larger enemies, because of course it did. None of these villains had anything to do with his comic book rogues gallery. This version was actually an early inspiration for Power Rangers.
2. S.H.I.E.L.D. GAVE MILES HIS REAL SUIT
Miles was still having trouble as Spidey. Criminals were mocking him and the public was not fond of him at all. This culminated in his encounter with Jessica Drew. Spider-Woman did not take kindly to Miles wearing a store-bought version of Peter’s costume and demanded to know who he was and what he thought he was doing.
During an interrogation at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Electro broke loose. The Ultimate version of Electro resembles the film version portrayed by Jamie Foxx and is similarly overpowered. It took young Miles’ help for The Ultimates to defeat the villain. After seeing him in action, Peter Parker’s female clone admits that the young Miles makes a good Spider-Man after all. She gifts him the the black and red costume that has now become a trademark of the character, as well as her blessing to wear the mantle.
1. A FAN SOLD THE BLACK SUIT IDEA FOR 220$
No list about Spider-Man’s costume is complete without at least one mention of the black suit. We’re taking it up a notch and mentioning it twice! In the early ’80s, Marvel wanted to revamp their characters. Spider-Man in particular was due for an upgrade. They held a contest for fans to submit their best creative ideas. Randy Shueller’s initial idea was that the costume would be designed by Reed Richards.
The suit would have been stronger and more suited to stealth, as it was to be made with the same material as the Fantastic Four’s costumes.
Marvel took the idea and ran with it all the way to the creation of Venom, one of Spider-Man’s most popular recurring villains. They gave Shueller a big fat 220$ check for that idea. Hopefully, Shueller invested that cash and didn’t just spend it on comic books.
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