Another year, and another version of a big-screen Spider-Man has arrived. With Tom Holland’s version of the Marvel webslinger poised to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War – and having made his debut in the latest trailer – attention has turned, inevitably, to his new threads. Or, synthetic materials, or complex polymers… you get the idea. But for all its small changes and intriguing touches, fans seem to agree that the new suit isn’t exactly reinventing the hero’s iconic look… but should it?
To this point, live-action versions of Spider-Man have delivered visions, at least on a costume level, that don’t differ too significantly from one another. There’s still the chance that Tom Holland will don a different suit before the one pictured above, but there will still be fans wondering aloud why the Russo brothers and Marvel couldn’t cook up something a bit outside the box. Something a bit closer to the groundbreaking, eye-popping costumes Peter Parker has worn in the comic books.
Rather than picking one side or another, we thought it best to provide a rundown of some of our favorite comic costumes, ranging from slick to sci-fi, and see which ones the fans think holds the most promise on film (or proves that the best Spider-Man stories will always be in the comics). Read on to see our list of Spider-Man’s 10 Coolest Comic Book Costumes Ever.
There have been a few different takes on what a “noir” version of Spider-Man would look like, which isn’t hard to understand. Who wouldn’t want to re-imagine Spidey as a shadowy vigilante in America’s 1930s world of organized crime? In the comic, Peter gains his powers in a… similar way, but turns to everything from a leath jacket, to vest, to donning his Uncle Ben’s airman jacket from World War I. The signature though, has to be the goggles worn in place of a futuristic set of white lenses. Not that goons or booze runners have much of a chance to enjoy the style before being pulled or thrown into a dark corner by an unseen assailant…
The Iron Spider
In the comic book version of Marvel’s Civil War, it was Tony Stark who stood on the wrong side of the issue at hand – in practice, if not in ideals. But then, it’s hard to actually see Captain America as the bad guy when he’s literally fighting for freedom. But Stark had more than a few powerful heroes pulled to his side in the conflict, with none more influential than Spider-Man. Not only did he join Tony’s fight, but publicly unmasked himself to show commitment to his belief in heroes going public.
It also landed him a new suit of armor with which to aid Iron Man in combat. Built out of cutting-edge materials, sporting a similar paint job to the Iron Man armor, and a set of controllable robotic arms, it was without a doubt the most functional of Peter’s costumes, granting him even more limbs and senses with which to dominate a fight. But who Spidey was fighting became the problem, which meant tossing aside the armor when he defected to Cap’s Secret Avengers.
Fear Itself (Asgardian)
When an ancient Asgardian threatened to drown Earth in fear, The Avengers needed some magical backup. Not another hero, but hardware, with Tony Stark developing enchanted weapons and armor from the universe’s greatest magical smiths. For Spider-Man, that meant a suit of Uru – the metallic substance used by Asgardians due to its potency in magic – glowing with invincibility, and complete with two blades mounted on either wrist, giving Peter Parker the arsenal needed to save the World Tree. The suit was destroyed when The Avengers won the fight, to make sure they existed only to serve their purpose – meaning Spidey’s time with the strength of a god was short-lived.
Spidey Armor – MK III
If there’s one thing scarier than a supervillain, it’s SIX of them joining forces. When Peter was faced with the job of doing just that, he called on his insurance policy: the tank armor tailor made for just such a challenge. Strong enough to withstand the Rhino, insulated from Electro, with tech to take down Sandman, lenses to see through Mysterio’s magic, and knockout web cannons, the Mark III armor was truly a thing of beauty.
At this point, no fan of the friendly neighborhood webslinger needs to be told what the symbiote – known to his friends as the alien being that gave birth to Venom – is, since its influence on Peter Parker and the hero’s world has been documented in almost every medium possible. It all started by latching onto Peter’s suit, and making it seem a bit… cooler. Once the hooks were in, it went to work corrupting Peter, until it went searching for a more fitting host. But that didn’t kill the black suit for good. In the years since, Peter has found more than a few reasons to dust off his black fabric suit, whether it was reflecting his mood, or the mission at hand. But one thing is clear: when Peter decides that it’s time to put on the black costume, it isn’t good news for anyone… except us, obviously.
Stealth Suit (‘Big Time’)
When a new villain manages to get the upper hand on Peter Parker, a suit designed for the new threat isn’t too far behind. When Hobgoblin relied on his “Lunatic Laugh” to incapacitate Peter, he designed a suit that would bend sound, and even light, around him. Aside from looking like it jumped right out of Tron, the suit rendered the webslinger truly invisible, using tech and tricks he picked up from two other Avengers: the original Ant-Man Hank Pym and Iron Man himself.
When Johnny Storm a.k.a. The Human Torch kicked the bucket, his last request was that Spider-Man join up with Mr. Fantastic’s Future Foundation. He made good on the request, but decided a new suit was needed to fit in with the clean, futuristic black and white color scheme. The red and blue are Spidey’s signature, but the minimalist suit in both white, and black, is one future webslinger we could get used to.
The Bombastic Bag-Man
It’s a question every Spider-Man fan asks eventually: does Peter just carry his suit with him wherever he goes? Not in the comics. Peter first had to improvise when Mr. Fantastic revealed that his new black suit was an alien parasite, wearing a spare Fantastic Four uniform – with a bag over his head to protect his identity. You’d think it would be a rare move, but when Spider-Man had a million dollar bounty on his head, Peter actually decided to repeat the costume… minus the uniform. With only pants and a paper bag, Peter’s career as the Bombastic Bag was over the second it started.
Why choose one alternate Spider-Man suit when you can get four in a single story? For those unfamiliar with the “Identity Crisis” storyline, the drama begins when that same bounty on Spidey’s head mentioned above forces him to get creative. That is, more creative than just putting a paper bag on his head. Instead of choosing one superhero alter ego to play in the meantime, Peter flexes his creative muscles and then some, creating the identities of Dusk, Ricochet, Hornet and Prodigy.
Making sure not to use all of his powers as any other identity, the story and action are an incredibly original take on a superhero’s powers defining their actual role. Using his talent for stealth, Dusk becomes a hero who’s almost invisible. Relying on his acrobatics, Spidey Sense and gift for coordination, he becomes a master of deflection and hand-to-hand combat. As Prodigy, Peter got to play the classic superhero/demigod role, exercising his muscles and do-gooder instincts. And as Hornet… well, who wouldn’t want to use a jetpack if they could? After all, it was the ’90s.
When Dr. Otto Octavios took over Peter Parker’s body and left the hero’s consciousness in his own dying body, he wasn’t expecting his host’s memories (or fashion sense) to stick around. Nevertheless, Doc Ock saw the error of his ways, seeking to do more good than Peter Parker ever had. He started strong, too, crafting a brand new suit that is clearly riffing on the version worn by Miles Morales, but simplified… with robotic legs stemming from his back (we suppose it’s sort of his trademark).
It may not be the most groundbreaking, outrageous or ambitious in the bunch, but after so many years, and so many designs and reboots, the fact that the storytellers were able to come up with a cool look that simply hadn’t been tried before is hard to believe.
Those are just some of our favorite costumes and suits sported by Peter Parker (among others), but which ones do you think should be in the conversation? Let us know in the comments, along with your thoughts on Tom Holland’s new look.