Why does the Green Goblin look so different in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse? In the comics, the Green Goblin is usually portrayed as a man clad in a goblin-esque costume, complete with an exaggerated Halloween-style mask. The look has traditionally been heavily adapted for the big screen; Sam Raimi's Spider-Man had the Goblin wear an all-green suit of armor, and Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 took a very similar approach - albeit a darker and more sinister one.
But the Green Goblin of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is unlike any previous version to hit the big-screen. He's a gigantic reptilian behemoth, with scaled skin and purple pants. At first glance, he's more reminiscent of the Abomination, the villain of The Incredible Hulk, than he is of any previous Green Goblin. What's more, he seems singularly lacking in intelligence, and is feared more for his brute strength than his cunning nature. This Green Goblin even has powers, shooting flames from his mouth like a dragon. To many moviegoers, it's an unprecedented change to an iconic design - indeed, it wouldn't be a surprise if average viewers didn't realize this was the Green Goblin at all.
There's a simple reason for this redesign; it's because Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is inspired by Marvel's Ultimate Comics range. This range takes place in an alternate universe, and allowed Marvel to retell classic origin stories in a modernized setting. It also allowed the publisher to take risks they'd never dare take in the mainstream universe - such as killing off Peter Parker and replacing him with Miles Morales. Every one of Spider-Man's classic heroes and villains got something of a redesign for the Ultimate Universe, but the Green Goblin's was the most significant.
Speaking at SDCC 2018, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse co-director Bob Persichetti explained that the Ultimate version of the Green Goblin is very different to the classic one. "In that Green Goblin is much more of a goblin than a man," he observed. "He's more beast and less man. As opposed to what Peter Parker has experienced in his sort of universe and films." In the Ultimate Universe, Norman Osborn was a corrupt industrialist who was attempting to duplicate the super-soldier serum. Supremely egotistical, he attempted to use a serum to turn into a "heightened" version of himself, but the experiment backfired badly. It transformed Osborn into the Green Goblin, a muscular, grotesque monster. Horrified and angered at his own mutation, his intellect reduced as a result of the experiment, the Green Goblin decided to destroy anybody and everybody who ever knew him. That meant he murdered his own wife, and attempted to kill his son.
In the Ultimate Universe, Green Goblin was the first superhero Peter Parker fought after becoming a superhero. Appropriately enough, he was also the last; Norman Osborn managed to regain his intelligence over the course of years' worth of battles with the wall-crawler, and decided to target Peter's loved ones. Although Spider-Man had arranged protection - the Human Torch and Iceman were at the Parker homestead - it didn't do much more than delay the Green Goblin. Spider-Man and the Green Goblin ultimately wound up in a brutal, final battle to the death - and neither survived. Given Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is entirely set in a version of the Ultimate Universe, it's appropriate that the film uses that version of the Green Goblin. In truth, though, it would be a wise decision anyway; this monstrous creature is unlike anything seen before on the big screen, and that gives the Green Goblin a fresh and original feel.
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) release date: Dec 14, 2018