You think of Spider-Man, and you imagine a character who sports a patriotic look that is more baffling than America’s mania for shark-based programming once a year. Red and blue, stripes that don’t run and icons across his back and chest that remind you which totem creature the wallcrawler identifies with. While his classic look always manages to make a return, Spider-Man has had dozens of costumes over the years.
Sometimes wearing pristine white threads that signal his role as a teacher within the future foundation, other times dressed inside of an organic extra-terrestrial parasite that may him push to act on darker impulses. Peter Parker may find himself constantly going back to his classic look, but at least he isn’t afraid to experiment with new fashion styles. Here’s ten of his best costumes that he has slipped into.
The Big Time
A third Tron movie may be a pipe dream, much like my fantasy of being able to reach the top shelf in the kitchen without a ladder, but at least Spider-Man was more than happy to carry the torch and fight for the users of New York City with the Big Time costume. With a Glow that would make Bruce Leeroy jealous, it’s a costume which does what Spider-Man does best: Stand out in a crowd, even when the lights are off.
I’ll never grasp why this costume is so hated. Granted, the idea of a red and gold colour scheme may not have too many fans on the complementary colour circle, but this somehow manages to be the exception. As Iron Man’s apprentice, Spider-Man got his first taste of augmenting his threads with the highest of tech, a suit that was skin-tight and bulletproof as he became the poster child for the Superhuman Registration Act that kicked off the first Civil War.
Much to the relief of any artist drawing Spider-Man in this outfit, it was also beautifully simple. Two primary colours, one large spider to remind you who’s under the mask and the occasional sprouting of techno-legs to help put in a sticky situation. It’s not the first time that Spider-Man has proven that less is more is a solid design scheme, but it is one of the better applications of that philosophy.
The Superior Spider-Man
On the verge of death thanks his brain collapsing after taking one too many spider-blows to the bowl-cut, Otto Octavius found himself with two choices: Either lay down and accept death, or pull off the greatest heist of the century before he kicked the bucket. The target? Not Fort Knox or that top-shelf drawer where Deadpool kept his collection of tasteful Bea Arthur photos but rather Spider-Man himself.
In a last-ditch effort, Doc Ock managed to walk away in the body of Peter Parker, leaving his former nemesis to wither and die in his own original rotting corpse. The downside to inheriting all of Spider-Man’s physical gifts? Octavius also inherited Peter’s moral compass, promising his foe that the world would always have a Spider-Man.
Not just any Spider-Man mind you. A superior Spider-Man, one whose costume was outfitted with cutting edge technology and style to help fight crime. There’s no denying that the Superior Spider-Man looks a tad more sinister than the usual webhead, but it’s a look which manages to balance being cool and serious while also harkening back to the original Steve Ditko design of the character. Truly the superior outfit.
Back in black
A couple of decades of being in print, and Spider-Man was more than ready to suit up in some new threads. Thanks to the convenient Secret Wars storyline that proved that regular spandex was no match for a drawn-out war with the cream of the supervillain crop, Parker’s costume was left ragged and too breezy, resulting in the New Yorker hopping into a nearby room and unwittingly unleashing the Venom symbiote from its imprisonment.
Sure, the symbiote may have eventually turned into an adrenaline-sucking parasite that went on to join forces with Eddie Brock and create a nemesis for the ages, but you can’t argue with just how stylish Spider-Man looked before that brouhaha went down! The first of many costumes to focus on simplicity, Spider-Man looked like an AC/DC single come to life, creating a look that would leave a legacy that still resonates today.
You look at Spider-Man, and you see a character who doesn’t need to stay in the shadows. You see a hero who does more than punch crime in it’s stupid face, he inspires. People forget that under the mask, there’s a person there with a gifted intellect who has so much to teach. Perhaps that was the idea with Peter Parker joining the Fantastic Four and becoming a member of the Future Foundation.
Saving the world not just through his actions but also by passing his wisdom and experience onto a new generation of heroes and explorers of the unknown. In many ways, that represented a blank slate for Spider-Man, a fresh new starting point for him to do something different. The end result? A uniform which was striking in its simplicity, a beacon that proved that Spider-Man was more than capable of standing with Marvel’s first family and shepherding in a new class of heroes.
I’m at a point in my life where I’m deadset in my fashion: Jeans, a quirky T-shirt and a pair of Converse All Stars. The future is here, and I feel old when I see what those damn kids are wearing lately. If the future of Marve;s 2099 reality is any indication however, superheroes are going to look snappy yo. It goes to show just how far ahead of its time the Spider-Man 2099 design was, in an era that was littered with painfully X-TREME characters.
Harkening back to the traditional red and blue colour scheme, Mihuel O’ Hara’s Spider-Man pops beautifully, standing out in a timeline where every wall is a billboard and the planet burns energy powering millions of neon tubes and holograms. In the present timeline? It’s an even more spectacular costume, one that has an incredible flow to match the kinetic energy of the character.
If Spider-Man 2099 represents the best of the future, then Spider-Man Noir is its opposite number. It’s the age of prohibition, and spandex has yet to be invented or made available to the public. The solution? Good old-fashioned working class materials like denim and leather, creating a dark arachnid hero who sticks to the shadows and looks dapper in the process.
Peter Parker, is dead. Well, at least the Ultimate Universe counterpart that is. After years of service, it was time to restart the webhead saga all over again as Miles Morales stepped in to fill Peter’s webshooters. A new Spider-Man required a new look, and Miles didn’t disappoint as his suited up in a classic combination of black and gold threads. Once again minimal, but striking thanks to the red highlights on top of a black bodysuit, Miles is one Spider-Man that you’d never mistake for the original hero.
I WANNA ROCK! Not every Spider-Man is a down on his luck photo-journalist battling to make ends meet while battling the Rhino on a Tuesday. Introduced in the Spider-Verse saga, Spider-Punk is a resident of a world where order rules with an iron fist and creative freedom is verboten. The solution? Anarchy in the US, as this Spider-Man swings, kicks and rocks out in defiance of the new world order with a look that screams non-conformism.
I know it’s a Spider-Man list, but it would feel criminal to leave out the best Spider-Woman costume ever designed. Specifically, Spider-Gwen’s outfit that screams haute couture. It’s a costume born of so many inspirations, yet still wholly unique to the character. That hoodie which isn’t an embarrassment like Ben Reilly’s first Scarlet Spider suit, the mixture of solid colours and webs ala ultimate Spider-Man and a punk rock attitude that suits this alternate reality Gwen Stacy perfectly.
There’s one other reason to love this costume: It has managed to inspire so many young women to try their hand at cosplay. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever hit a convention that doesn’t have a few Spider-Gwens swinging around, which is honestly the best thing ever. And that’s our list! Agree? Disagree? Drop us a comment below. And if anyone mentions the armoured Spider-Man costume from the 1990s, they’re banned for life.
Last Updated: July 27, 2017