There’s plenty that’s implausible about Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man, from the genetically modified arachnid bite and organic web-shooters, to all that swinging between skyscrapers. But the movie’s biggest curveball is how a high-school student with zero tailoring experience crafts himself a slick, figure-hugging spandex outfit. How Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker upgrades his tie-dye tracksuit to a snazzy raised-web design is never explained. Unless The Incredibles’ Edna Mode stepped in to fill the mentor-shaped void left by Uncle Ben’s passing, it makes no sense.
And yet I’ll happily take old-school Spidey’s unlikely haute couture over the fantastical nanotech costumes from the MCU. The days of diligently hiding your super-suit under your civvies are long gone, now that Lycra, weaponised armour and robot spider legs can materialise from microscopic particles floating in the ether.
Since Black Panther brought futuristic Wakandan technology into the MCU, Marvel has given up on keeping its fashion believable. T’Challa’s bulletproof Vibranium togs fit conveniently inside a necklace. And where Iron Man once hid his armour in a briefcase, his Avengers: Infinity War update was housed in the ARC reactor on his chest, before enveloping his body in a cascade of glittery CG effects. When a whole arsenal of powerful weapons can be conjured from thin air – where is all that mass coming from? – it’s safe to assume none of the Avengers are putting luggage in the cargo hold when they travel.
While the Batsuit in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight movies is home to an unlikely array of gadgets, his Kevlar suit and memory-cloth cape do at least seem convincingly tactile. Such utilitarian tailoring even came with the wonderfully mundane trade-off that Bruce Wayne couldn’t swivel his neck.
Does the ending of Spider-Man: No Way Home suggest a homemade, hand-stitched comeback? Let’s hope so. Marvel’s wardrobe of computer-enhanced super-suits have an air of comic-book magic, but for Spidey and his amazing friends, surely it’s time to get back to basics with some good, old-fashioned spandex. Or is it just me?