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‘Spider-Man’ test footage shows us the Goblin that never was

10th July 2017 | by | No Comments

With Spider-Man occupying his rightful place on everybody’s lips at the moment, it’s perhaps no surprise that there’s also been a wave of nostalgia looking back at previous Spidey adaptations. Heck, we’ve even done a bit of it ourselves.

And one nugget that’s been turned up is the could-have-been look for Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin in the original 2002 Sam Raimi film. The Hollywood Reporter have dug up once again some videos that have been kicking around for a few years, in which a VFX company called Amalgamated Dynamics show off their test footage for a fully animatronic, and considerably more comics-accurate, Osborn mask:

The technology is hugely impressive, of that there’s no doubt; and it makes for a truly striking and memorable interpretation of the Goblin’s character. Question is, would it actually have worked in Raimi’s movie as was? That, we’re not so sure of – it would have required a pretty different approach to how Dafoe’s Osborn actually becomes the Goblin and what the persona entails.

(Of course, many would argue that anything would be better than the shiny green plastic confection – most commonly referred to as a “Power Rangers villain” – that we got. This correspondent admits, however, to having a sneaking regard for that costume – the static mask is a bit of a misstep but it’s a look that people remember to this day, and stick some purple rags over the top of it and it actually could have been pretty great.)

This isn’t the only alternative Goblin design that’s seen the light of day, mind. Warren Manser, who worked alongside James Acheson on the first film’s Spidey outfit, revealed this concept art that still goes for the “static face”, but includes purple touches that bring it closer to the comics:

And even before Spider-Man was released, forums were abuzz with a concept by superstar comics painter Alex Ross:

Ross’ version may have been better-suited to taking advantage of Dafoe’s facial expressions, but it does rather cry “Hobgoblin” as opposed to “Green Goblin”.

And while we’re looking at never-used Spidey concepts, let’s remind ourselves of the look Ross came up with for the titular character. I remember sections of fandom being pretty excited about the possibility of this design at the time – although that was before anyone had an inkling that Manser and Acheson would come up with something quite so faithful to the comics:

If you’re going for a different, “movieish” Spidey, then the black-and-red works well – but the Raimi movies showed us that actually, there’s no need to mess with Ditko’s classic that much at all to get Spider-Man right.

And yet we still wait for a version of the Green Goblin that truly does the comics character justice – and we could be waiting a while, as nothing about Spider-Man: Homecoming did anything to suggest an Osborn-shaped figure (whether of the Harry or Norman variety) is yet on Peter’s horizon.

Still, could be worse.