Recently unearthed videos from 2012 show the original mask for Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin in director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was way more faithful to the look of the character in the comics.
Spidey, of course, made his triumphant return to the big screen this weekend with Tom Holland as the titular character in Spider-Man: Homecoming – marking the webslinger’s solo movie debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His chief adversary in the film is Adrian Toomes/The Vulture (Michael Keaton), the latest in an impressive string of villains to appear in the Spider-Man movie series, which started in 2002 with Dafoe’s Norman Osborn/Green Goblin opposite Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the worldwide blockbuster Spider-Man.
Dafoe was naturally impressive in his performance of Norman Osborn in the film, and his villainous alter-ego the Green Goblin especially looked menacing in the character’s emerald green armor and helmet, although the design has regularly come under fire for its lack of articulation and deviation from the character’s original look. But as it turns out, Raimi and his crew did screen tests for a much different version of the character that would have eliminated the use of a helmet for the Green Goblin altogether.
Thanks pair of animatronic test videos dug up from 2012 by THR, a prototype mask designed by Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. for Spider-Man had a definitive look of the Green Goblin from the Spider-Man comics. One video (seen above) documents the early design and application of the mask on an unidentified makeup FX artist, who moves his head around while the Green Goblin’s facial expressions are achieved using animatronics. At one point, an ADI artist says the mask looks “pretty creepy” as the test subject sticks his tongue out between the Green Goblin’s fangs.
In second video (see below), Raimi can be heard asking the person wearing the Green Goblin mask (it’s unclear if it’s actually Dafoe) to make his “most pleasant expression,” followed by a request to make his “most extreme movement of anger.” Raimi made it clear in the video that he was going for subtlety in the expressions, presumably to give the character a more realistic than cartoony feel.
For whatever reason, the original Goblin mask was shuttered in favor of the helmet, leading to undoubtedly one of the first big changes Spider-Man comic fans would see as the tales of the webslinger were adapted for the big screen besides the organic web shooters. Naturally, the field of makeup effects and computer generated effects has grown exponentially in the 15 years since Raimi tested out ADI’s original design. Even so, the Amazing Spider-Man reboot still opted to take a new design on the Green Goblin.
It’s possible the MCU will lean more towards the comics if they ever introduce the Spider-Man villain, but it appears there’s no intention to do so for some time – if ever. For now it seems like Spider-Man: Homecoming director Jon Watts will be in the first in line to help make that call, given the film’s massive, $227 million global box office opening over the weekend.
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