Although we wouldn’t usually go so far as to sit nit-picking at a superhero movie costume here on Alternate Cover (there are plenty of other sites that do that), I’m sure regular readers will know (especially from reading our “30 Days” posts) that as far as we’re concerned, Spider-Man is a bit different. More than anything, it’s the one character/comic that unites our comics tastes, and so when we get our first glimpse at a cinematic version, there’s going to be interest and excitement. So with the first pic of an in-costume Andrew Garfield emerging online this week, we thought we’d sit down and have an email chat about what we thought of it, and post our thoughts here.
Seb: Well – first off, there’s the design itself (as opposed to what it tells us about the story, which we’ll come to). And, from what we can see (and there’s still plenty yet to see, of course), I like it. Two points I’ve seen made (both by Jamie McKelvie, in fact) are (a) that the gloves look like the design team trying to justify their work, and (b) the whole thing’s a bit Ben Reilly. Neither of those are a problem for me (you know how much of a fan I am of the Reilly costume, after all). It’s a bit more modern-looking, and since we were never going to get just a reuse of the Raimi suit (which itself was as comics-accurate as we’re ever going to see, raised webbing aside), I think it’s a nice mixture of “fresh” and “still obviously Spider-Man”.
James: Hmm. I don’t hate it or anything, but it does feel a bit like they’ve messed with a design classic for no good reason other than to avoid criticisms that it’s too close to the Raimi version. I admit that one was already perfect, and there was little they could do to better it, but if it ain’t broke…
To be fair, I’ll have to see it with the mask before I make a final judgement, but at this point I’d call it “acceptable.” I’m not massively jazzed by it, nor do I hate it. I do like the texture on the blue area, and the lack of raised webbing makes it look more like the comic version in that sense, but the mild redesigns don’t do it for me, they seem arbitrary. As much as I do like the Ben Reilly redesign, for example, I’m not sure I’d call it “better” – it’s starting to look very of-its-time in terms of its aesthetic sensibilities, whereas Spider-Man’s classic outfit hasn’t succumbed to those ravages, just because Ditko’s design was beyond that in the first place.
S: The lack of raised webbing is definitely an improvement, for me – not just for authenticity, but because it look a bit less daft. It’s about the only thing I didn’t like about the original one back when it first showed up online (and man, now I’m all nostalgic about what A Big Deal it was when that picture turned up – since back in 2001, we didn’t actually have reasonable cause to expect that comic book movie costumes would try in any way to have respect for their source material. How times have changed…). Not that it ruined the outfit or anything, it just seemed a bit of a stretch, and dominated the design somewhat.
J: See, I don’t remember feeling even a little bit irritated by the raised webbing the first time around. I just thought “yeah, that’s an acceptable interpretation.” In fact, seeing the new costume makes me understand where it came from – the webbing is incredibly subtle on this version, and I can see how once he starts moving, you’ll stop seeing it.
Another thing that bugs me is that obviously, while we don’t know what the story’s going to be, I’m not convinced that the new costume looks like something a kid could have created. The Raimi version stretched credibility (and rightly glossed over where it came from) but this one looks slightly *too* slick in terms of the detailing. Maybe they’ll explain that, maybe not, but either way it’s a factor that’s stopping me from being too enthusiastic.
S: Well, since the film does appear to be going not only down the route of rebooting, but of actually retelling the origin (which is something I’m not hugely enthused about – it feels like a huge waste of running time on something that nobody needs to have retold to them only a few years after the last time, and I’d rather see them go straight in with an entirely new story), I’m going to bet we’ll be given the Ultimate Spidey explanation of it being the wrestling costume he gets given. Even if the film doesn’t go back to the origin, and just starts with him early in his career, that’s the explanation I’ll have in my head.
J: Yeah, that’s why I was being a bit cautious about whether his costume looks like he made it himself – I’m expecting them to say that he didn’t.
S: Of course, the other thing that the pic tells us about the film itself is that he really does look like he’s wearing… WEBSHOOTERS. What make you of this? Or do you particularly even care?
J: Not really! I’m one of the few people (probably) who always thought that organic webshooted made more sense, for a movie. The web fluid/shooters aspect of the character is one of the few things that, for me, isn’t “true” to Spider-Man’s concept – casting him as a junior scientific genius means you’re in danger of losing the “everyman” element. I’ll be interested to see how the film tackles it, but it really doesn’t bother me either way, because the arguments for both interpretations are sound.
S: And also: while it would have been nice to have got a full-on, masked picture of the character, it’s good to see that in a Peter Parker sense, Andrew Garfield looks the part. In terms of physique (even if they’re deviating with the costume) they’re clearly looking to Ditko this.
J: Yeah, that’s something that’s undeniably working. There was never a problem with Raimi’s more Romita-esque interpretation version, per se, but this is one instance where going a different route is both interesting and artistically legitimate, rather than redundant. All things considered, I think Garfield has it nailed – even if the costume’s not exciting me, his look and posture in that photo is enough to make me believe he’s going to be a near-perfect (Ultimate) Peter Parker.