Spider-Man has one of the most internationally recognized costumes of any superhero in history. The red and blue colors, the web pattern, and the big eyes are every bit as iconic as an S-shield, X-belt, or Bat signal. It’s a testament to the genius of the web-slinger’s costume design that while almost every other superhero in comics has seen their costume evolve with the times, Spidey’s red and blue suit has remained almost identical to how it first appeared all the way back in his debut in 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15.
These days, the talk of the town is the rendition of Spider-Man’s costume that he will wear in the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, given to him by Tony Stark during Captain America: Civil War as a replacement for a scrappy homemade suit. Spidey’s new Stark suit will have all kinds of technological bells and whistles, but in appearance, it very closely resembles his classic suit.
However, not every Spider-Man costume has stayed so close to the original design. Throughout the web-head’s history, he’s donned quite a few weird, strange, and funky alternate costumes. From living aliens to high-tech stealth suits, unused concept art for the movies to the bombastic Bag-Man, here are the 15 Craziest Costumes That Peter Parker Has Worn.
15. The Living Alien Symbiote Costume
By now, we’re so used to this costume that it’s easy to forget how weird, bizarre, and… well, alien the original concept was. But let’s take a step back and examine it with fresh eyes: for a handful of years, Spider-Man’s costume was a sentient alien life form. His clothes were an intelligent creature that had bonded to him, and eventually began influencing his thoughts, behavior, and actions to the point where he’d wake up exhausted in the morning because the symbiote had taken him out on a midnight swing… while unconscious. The whole concept is quite creepy, but also unique, and that originality is probably a huge part of what has made the symbiote — and by extension, the Venom character — such an enduring and popular part of Spidey’s history.
The other reason that this costume is so popular? Because on a base level, it’s just a seriously cool design. It’s something of a polar opposite of the classic costume, but it’s still obviously Spider-Man. While the brilliance of the red and blue outfit is found in its complexity, the great thing about the black costume is its minimalism. The black suit is the only Spider-Man look that’s ever given the classic costume a run for its money, and it’s not hard to see why.
Other than maybe those healing factor champions like Wolverine and Deadpool, there are few heroes who would seem less likely to wear body armor than Spidey. The combination of Peter’s speed, agility, and spider-sense give him the ability to dodge any bullet, and the weight of wearing armor should only slow down his movements.
However, the Spider-Armor is a real thing, and he’s actually worn a few different variations of it.
The Spider-Armor is Peter’s own design, and it’s built out of a metallic substance that Peter came up with himself. Needless to say, the Spider-Armor did slow him down, and while it obviously made him more resistant to injury, it also rapidly got destroyed by an acid bath. Despite its short life, the Spider-Armor has subsequently appeared in alternate realities, cartoons, and video games, and other Spider-Armors have been designed since then.
13. Iron Spider
The Spider-Man: Homecoming costume might look just like Peter’s classic outfit, but in its essence, the new costume has just as much in common with the “Iron Spider” armor that Tony Stark made for Peter during the comic book version of Civil War. This armor is actually one of the most advanced ones that Tony has ever created; while it was flexible enough to maintain Spidey’s necessary maneuverability, it also had built in life support, a mask that could filter out anything from chemical toxins to nuclear ones, gliding capabilities, and temperature control embedded into the suit’s skin. It also included those three mechanical waldoes, reminiscent of Doc Ock’s tentacles, stored within the suit’s back. These waldoes had cameras allowing Spidey to see around corners.
Stark, being the egoist he is, couldn’t resist adding his own creative license to the suit’s design, resulting in a costume that utilizes the red and gold of Iron Man instead of Peter’s Spider-Man color scheme. (This is why the costume is usually referred to as the Iron Spider.) After Spidey switched sides in the Civil War to ally with Captain America, he left the Iron Spider costume behind.
12. Electro-Proof suit
Spidey’s a tough guy in a fight, and he can dodge most things, but he’s definitely not immune from getting zapped by electricity. This means that battles with Electro can be pretty damaging, as one well-aimed blast could render the wall-crawler unconscious, or worse. To protect against this, Spider-Man has created what is commonly called the “Electro-Proof” suit, a costume of his own design that is deeply insulated to protect against a variety of electrical attacks. Though it doesn’t render him completely immune from Electro, and enough electrical energy at one time has been shown to strip away at its material, the Electro-Proof suit does give Peter a necessary barrier of protection.
Of course, Spider-Man can’t always predict when he’s going to round a corner and find Electro draining all of the power out of Times Square again, but in the cases where he is able to prepare, the Electro-Proof suit is definitely a nice tool to have in handy.
11. Spider-Man Unlimited
Spider-Man has had a lot — a lot — of animated adaptations, but there aren’t many that have been so routinely panned as Spider-Man Unlimited, the 1999 cartoon that saw Peter Parker dragged to the futuristic other world known as Counter-Earth, a place ruled by human/animal hybrids known as Beastials who serve their lord, the High Evolutionary.
Needless to say, planting the web-slinger into the middle of this Counter-Earth stuff didn’t make a lot of sense; the whole thing was created merely to ensure that Fox kept the rights to the previous 1990s cartoon, but Sony’s new ownership of the Spider-Man franchise meant that the cartoon couldn’t actually use the “real” Spidey or his popular mythos. The weirdness of Spider-Man Unlimited didn’t catch on with audiences, and the cartoon only lasted one season.
The web-head’s costume in the series seems to borrow heavily from the Day of the Dead outfit worn by Spider-Man 2099, Miguel O’Hara, and like the rest of the series, it’s a weird fit on Peter Parker. It’s composed of nanotechnology designed by Reed Richards, anti-symbiote sonic weapons, and lots of little high-tech components.
10. The Too-Small Costume
One of the upsides of being a well-known public figure like Spider-Man is that on occasions where his costume has been lost or damaged, and he doesn’t have the necessary hours or tools to sew a replacement, he can usually find a knockoff product in a store somewhere. Of course, these store bought costumes don’t usually get the design just right. Spidey’s bought costumes that have store logos on them, faulty coloring… or in the case of this early comic, duds that are just made really, really cheaply — and in the wrong size.
In one early Stan Lee/Steve Ditko issue, Peter loses his backup costume. Needing to get back to action, he gets the bright idea to pick up a cheap knockoff suit at a costume store. The costume is made of one-size-fits-all stretch fabric, and at first, it fits like a charm. But soon enough, it keeps getting tighter and tighter, and it begins falling apart so badly that he has to use his webbing to hold it together. But after having to go through a ridiculous fight scene in this ensemble, the wall-crawler’s had enough, so he swings away and rips the costume off in disgust.
9. Captain Universe Spidey
Hey, so guess what: the symbiote isn’t the only alien that Peter has worn as a costume. The Uni-Power is a sentient cosmic force that, when it senses a person in need of desperate help, bonds to them — turning that individual into the cosmically-powered Captain Universe. An individual who has become Captain Universe will retain their powers as long as necessary in order to defeat whatever evil they are presented with, unless they try to use this force for selfish reasons, at which point the Uni-Power will depart.
Peter only possessed the Uni-Power for a short time, and quickly used it to fix his problem. But there is an alternate What If? story which shows what might have happened had Peter held onto these cosmic abilities for good; in short, he would have kept taking on more and more responsibility, tackling worldwide crises, trying to create world peace, and even attempting to rewrite weather patterns in order to make desert areas more habitable for life. This last action ends up drawing him into conflict with Doctor Doom and Thor.
8. The Stealth Suit from Horizon Labs
Spider-Man, meet Tron. During the time that he was working at Horizon Labs, Peter constructed this outfit based on the work of Henry Pym. It’s commonly known as the ‘stealth suit’ due to its high tech abilities. The suit is made from an omni-harmonic mesh, and it functions by bending sound and light waves to suit the moment’s needs. Basically, when the costume’s lights are red, it’s in an anti-sound wave mode that blocks all sonic attacks. When the lights turn green, he actually turns invisible, and can only be seen at certain frequencies or when viewed through a specific lens.
Spidey created this suit to take on the Hobgoblin, so that he would be immune from the villain’s sonic screams. After that, he eventually gave it to Kaine, who wore a color-swapped version of the suit as his new Scarlet Spider costume.
7. The Concept Art Costumes For The Amazing Spider-Man Movie
To be fair, the costume designers for Sony’s first Spidey reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, had a steep challenge put before them. The outfit used in the Sam Raimi movies was widely considered one of the best superhero movie costumes of all time, and it was faithful to the comic book costume. The reboot’s costume had to somehow differentiate itself as a new take on the web-slinger without straying too far from the original. While the final look that appeared in the movie was relatively faithful, and it was followed by the even more faithful costume used in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the early concept designs for the film show that the designers were contemplating taking the look in some radical directions.
All of the concept designs retain the traditional red and blue colors, but a lot of liberties are taken with the eye-shape and color blocks, while the traditional web pattern was largely cast aside. But as a whole, the real reason that the movie didn’t use any of these concepts was probably because all of them look extremely high-tech and futuristic, which would have felt out of place in the grounded, realistic setting of the film.
Okay, now it’s time for the “Slingers.”
The costumed identity of Ricochet came out of a storyline where Norman Osborn had Spider-Man framed for murder, and publicly put a five million dollar bounty on the web swinger’s head. Peter became unable to even go out in his Spidey costume without having everyone and their mother trying to capture him, so he instead came up with four separate new costumed identities, so that he could continue to fight crime and simultaneously work to clear his name.
The “Ricochet” costume was designed by Mary Jane, and in this identity, Peter largely relied on his agility. As Ricochet, he pretended to be a criminal. He was also armed with flying discs attached to his sleeves, which he used as projectile weapons instead of the more familiar webbing.
In addition to the Ricochet identity, Peter also became Hornet. Unlike Ricochet, who masqueraded as a small-time criminal, Hornet actually became a popular and well-regarded hero during the week or so that Peter used the identity — a rather ironic turn of events, given the fact that Peter’s Spider-Man identity has always been surrounded by controversy, weird rumors, and bad publicity. Out of the four alternate identities that Peter created, Hornet was one of the two more traditionally heroic ones.
As Hornet, Peter used a powerful and massively heavy jet-pack, combined with metal wings. This gear was created by that villain-turned-antihero known as the Prowler, Hobie Brown. He also used projectile-firing gauntlets based on a design by Ben Reilly, the (then) deceased Scarlet Spider.
At the same time as Peter was being Ricochet and the Hornet, he also masqueraded as Prodigy, and he acted every bit the muscular, square-jawed noble hero trope, even more so than he did as Hornet. As Prodigy, Peter primarily relied on his super strength and speed, and less on his agility, also wearing a bulletproof golden costume so as to appear to be more of a “powerhouse” type hero. The disparity between the modes and personalities of all of these heroes was intentional on Peter’s part, as he didn’t want anyone to suspect that they were all the same (wanted) man.
In the Slingers, after Peter used the Prodigy identity to clear his name, it was later taken on by Ritchie Gilmore. However, during this whole event, there was one more secret identity that Peter adopted during this storyline… and this last one may be the absolute weirdest one of them all.
Meet Dusk, the final Slinger, and Peter Parker’s darkest alternate superhero identity.
Peter is well known for the constant wisecracks and glibness he exhibits as Spider-Man, but when he was Dusk, the young hero purposely took on a moodier, more intense persona to match his all-black costume. In this outfit, Peter would stalk his enemies from the shadows, and he could glide short distances with the attached wings. As Dusk, he portrays himself to be an immoral mercenary looking for new work, and he even pretended to align with the supervillain known as the Trapster, who had previously helped Norman Osborn frame Spidey for murder.
After Peter cleared Spider-Man’s name of the murder charges, he abandoned the Dusk identity. It was soon adopted by Cassie St. Commons when she joined the Slingers; her powers as Dusk involved an ability to manipulate shadows and teleport.
2. The Amazing and Bombastic Bag-Man
One of the downsides of being buddies with Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, is that sometimes, it means falling prey to one of the Torch’s hilarious pranks.
After Reed Richards helped Peter get rid of the symbiote costume (for the first time), it left Peter in a bit of a tough spot: with the alien gone, he now had no costume, and somehow had to web-swing home without giving away his identity to anyone. Johnny “helped” him out this situation by lending him one of his old Fantastic Four outfits, putting a brown paper bag on his head, and then loudly announcing him as “the amazing Bag-Man.” The fact that Peter had to swing home in this ensemble would be embarrassing enough, but Johnny added one extra finishing touch: he taped a KICK ME sign onto Peter’s back.
1. The Bag-Man Returns!
One would think that one outing as the Bombastic Bag-Man would be embarrassing enough. But no, though the Bag-Man disappeared for a while, he finally made his dramatic return in Spectacular Spider-Man #256.
Here, the Bag-Man identity is the result of Peter having no costume on hand, and needing to quickly spring into action in order to save the goofy villains-turned-heroes known as Grizzly and Gibbon from the sinister White Rabbit. Perhaps having fond memories of his former paper mask, Peter dons the brown bag once again, and actually announces himself to White Rabbit as the Bag-Man. Though the White Rabbit doesn’t have the most threatening villainous identity herself, even she can’t take the Bag-Man seriously. Nonetheless, Peter immediately starts laying the smackdown on her goons, while hilariously describing the Bag-Man’s “origins” as an ordinary grocery store clerk, until a freak lightning accident sprayed him with a strange concoction of shampoos and perfumes that gave him superpowers. If we ever needed evidence that Spider-Man has the best sense of humor of any superhero in the Marvel Universe, this alone should serve as the ultimate proof.
Any crazy, weird, or outlandish Spider-Man costumes that we missed? Let us know in the comments!