May 15, 2015
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suit makes me irrationally happy
I never liked the Spider-Man suit in the Sam Raimi movies. I never said anything about it at the time, because in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t really matter. It was GOOD ENOUGH. The design was more or less the same as the source material, which it easily might not have been. Alex Ross, the all-around talented comic book artist, had done some concept designs for the movie to tweak the costume, and I’d gotten a look at them somehow or other.
I remember hating this when I was younger. Looking at it again now, I don’t really know why it angered me as much as it did. I can identify stuff that bothers me about it now—the eyes are too small, there’s far too much of one color (black) in the design (i.e., the same thing that’s wrong with Superman’s suit since DC took off his pants), and there’s this vibe of over-seriousness about it, wringing out everything that’s silly and fun about Spider-Man, and losing the point of him entirely. But like I said, that’s me looking at it now. Younger Me wouldn’t have put that much thought into it. Younger Me didn’t put that much thought into anything. I think I must have hated it solely because it looked different from the comic and was therefore an abomination. I’m glad I’m not that big of an asshole anymore.
The main reason I didn’t say anything at the time, though, was because I think I’d been desensitized to what I didn’t like about it a long time ago. From the very first time I watched Tim Burton’s Batman, actually.
That Batman suit is iconic, and proved that a man running around in giant bat ears didn’t have to look as silly in real life as you probably thought it would. Or had previously, come to think of it. I love it. None of that stopped it from looking like a massive, impractical lump of molded rubber. You couldn’t look at it and suspend your disbelief. It was a movie costume, and that was it.
Deep down, I wanted fabric. I wanted spandex, specifically. But from Batman onward, I’d realized that was never what I was going to get. I mean, yes, the Christopher Reeve Superman movies had a fabric suit, but I first saw those after Batman, so the damage had already been done. And anyway, by this point Tim Burton had already jumped on and off another Superman movie, and this was the direction they were going in with the costume for that.
Not to mention, this is the Superman suit we got just last year.
And following this tangent to its logical conclusion, I’m aware the suit in Superman Returns is a lot closer to what I wanted, but… look at the “S” on that thing. It manages somehow to look really cheap and like it cost hundreds.
I do this a lot, by the way. I like tangents. Don’t worry, I always end up back on the right walkway. You’ll get used to it. Or you won’t.
So, when the first Spider-Man finally came out, I got the suit I expected. I was satisfied enough, but it still bothered me. It just looked too rubbery, plastic-y, shiny. I couldn’t even pull off the mind tricks I did with Batman. At least Bruce Wayne’s rich. I could believe he’d be able to afford that sort of stuff. Peter Parker is a down-on-his-luck teenager. How the bloody hell can he afford that kind of detailing?
Then clips and trailers for the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2 started dropping, and I continued to play it cool, when on the inside I was crying tears of pure joy.
It’s perfect. There’s no other way I can put it. The first thing I noticed was the eyes. I like my Spider-Man suit to have big eyes. It’s a personal thing; I grew up during the eras of Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen and especially Mark Bagley. The new movie suit is definitely taking inspiration from those depictions, and they got my favorite bit just right.
The best clip of the suit out there doesn’t even really give you a good look at it. The camera’s behind Spider-Man, leaping towards some form of danger. His arms are spread back. And the costume… creases. It creases. Around his shoulders. Like proper human clothes do. That was what I wanted. That was all I wanted, I realized. I was so happy. I was SO HAPPY. Moved to elation by a crease around a man’s shoulders. It takes all sorts.
I’d felt like this one time before, watching the second Lord of the Rings movie, the first time I got a good look at Gollum. From about the age of six or seven, I’d had an image of what he’d look like. I’m not saying anything profound here, thousands of people did. I do wonder how many of them had the same reaction I did, though. Because when he came on screen, I was like, “That’s it. That’s Gollum.” Everything I ever saw in my head was there. Down to the smallest detail. Even the voice. It was like I’d filled in a survey and won some sort of blind draw.
I told myself at the time I should remember how good that feeling was, because it’d probably be a long time before the next time I experienced it. Honestly, I wasn’t confident I’d ever get there again, so yeah, bonus points.
It’s weird. This isn’t really that big a deal. Like I said at the beginning, the Raimi suit was good enough. And the things I’m happy about now are the kind of small, anally retentive bollocks that make me roll my eyes when other Geek Culture people go on and on about them. I tut and say things like, “Fucking cliché,” under my breath. And here I’ve written a thousand words about shoulder creases, eyehole sizes, the figurative (and literal) laminated evolution of Superman’s movie appearance, and the infinite variations of a Tolkien character. Starting how I mean to go on, then.