With the reveal at San Diego Comic-Con that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man will be donning the Marvel Cinematic Universe equivalent of the Iron Spider costume in Avengers: Infinity War (Russo and Russo, 2018), there’s no better time for everyone and their mother to weigh in on their favourite Spider-Man costumes. So, with that in mind, here are my top ten Spider-Man costumes (I would have asked my mother for her choices too but I’m not sure she even knows Spider-Man had more than one costume).
Kicking things off with a bit of a cheat as Peter Parker isn’t really famous for sporting these simple duds. Instead, his clone, Ben Reilly, took up the webs after five years as a wandering hermit and fought crime as the Scarlet Spider, favouring a torn hooded top and skin-tight red spandex that has become the go-to look for whenever cinematic or animated incarnations of Spider-Man need a prototype or homemade version of the classic costume.
Next up is a short lived gag outfit that Peter was forced to adopt after the Fantastic Four revealed that his nifty black costume was actually a living alien symbiote. Slipping into one of Johnny “Human Torch” Storm’s old costumes and placing a simple paper bag over his head, this outfit was only supposed to get Peter from the Baxter Building and back home without giving away his secret identity and yet nearly garnered more public appreciation than his red-and-blue outfit ever did.
We’re veering deep into comics territory here. Okay, so, Doctor Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus managed to switch his mind with Peter’s and took over his life and identity, vowing to be a “superior” version of Spider-Man. Soon, he took on a ruthless attitude towards crime and switched to a far more aggressive and deadly version of Spidey’s classic duds. Ironically, Otto actually won over not only the city but also long-time Spider-Man hater J. Jonah Jameson during his tenure as a more ruthless incarnation of the web-slinger.
What’s better than a superior version of Spider-Man? A Spider-Man imbued with the cosmic powers of Captain Universe, of course! Gifted with the extra-dimensional Uni-Power, Spider-Man became a cosmic-level superhero, capable of emitting energy blasts and defending the entire universe….however, he lost all his abilities to destroy the Tri-Sentinel, which seems a bit of a waste to me (it’s not like he was facing Onslaught or anything!)
Scaling things down for a second is the Spider-Man from the alternate reality known as Earth-90214, the “Noir-verse”. This Spider-Man, operating during the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, takes on a classic noir detective appearance, sporting aviator goggles, a black trenchcoat, and wielding firearms.
Following the death of Johnny Storm/The Human Torch (well, it turned out that he didn’t really die but he appeared to be dead at the time and for a while), the Fantastic Four re-organised themselves as the Future Foundation and, as per Johnny’s request, Spider-Man finally joined the team. Though he initially rocked up sporting the classic Fantastic Four costume, he was later outfitted with this nifty white-and-black number that, despite closely resembling the appearance of Anti-Venom, was made up of unstable molecules which allowed it to stay nice and clean and also switch between a number of other appearances, including a black-and-white “stealth mode”.
In the build up to Civil War (Millar, McNiven, et al, 2006-2007), Tony Stark/Iron Man became something of a mentor to Peter. As part of that, Stark built Peter a customised version of his Iron Man armour; this red-and-gold exoskeleton greatly amplified and added to Spider-Man’s already-impressive abilities: three mechanical spider-like arms could instantly sprout from his back, he could glide with ease throughout the city, and his lenses offered numerous sight-enhanced options, amongst others.
Dipping back into one of Spider-Man’s more controversial periods, the seemingly never-ending Clone Saga, this is the awesome costume that Ben Reilly wore during his tenure as Spider-Man. Bold and striking, this version separates itself from the original by sporting a large spider motif in the middle and Reilly’s bulkier, more powerful web-shooters around the wrists. In the alternate reality known as Earth-982, Peter’s daughter May “Mayday” Parker also wore this outfit to fight crime as Spider-Girl.
In the possible future reality known as Earth-928, geneticist Miguel O’Hara alters his own DNA to bestow himself with spider-like abilities. Garbing himself in a mask and bodysuit he wore for the Day of the Dead festival, Miguel becomes an all-new version of Spider-Man. Miguel’s costume is comprised of Unstable Molecule fabric, which allows him some resistance to energy-based weapons and attacks and renders it practically indestructible, and anti-gravity technology allows Miguel to fly at will (just like a real spider!)
Finally, the inevitable and obvious choice for number one. We started simple with the Scarlet Spider costume and it’s only fitting to end just as simply; the black suit was a visually and striking departure from Spider-Man’s usual costume, which had changed very little since its debut up to this point. Closely resembling the costume of Julia “Spider-Woman” Carpenter, this costume was all-black and sported a brilliant white spider logo and piercing white eyes. However, as would later be revealed, the costume was anything but simple as it turned out to be an alien symbiote looking to permanently bond with Peter. After he rid himself of it, he would later be tormented and haunted by the suit for years to come when it bonded with Eddie Brock to become and maniacal Venom, proving that some of the most iconic villains can have the most obscure and unassuming of origins.