The Green Goblin Scene That Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Costume Designer Thought Was 'Ridiculous'

With Norman Osborn, a.k.a. The Green Goblin having antagonized Spider-Man for nearly the entirety of his existence and personally caused numerous tragedies in Peter Parker’s life, including the death of Gwen Stacy, it made sense that he was selected to be the villain of 2002’s Spider-Man. Two decades later, that movie, and particularly Willem Dafoe’s time as The Green Goblin, remain highly regarded. And yet, James Acheson, the costume designer on all three of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, can recall a specific Green Goblin scene from that first Spider-Man movie that he still finds “ridiculous.”

James Acheson was among the people who CinemaBlend’s own Sean O’Connell interviewed for his new book With Great Power: How Spider-Man Conquered Hollywood During The Golden Age Of Comic Book Blockbusters, which also delves into the villains the scrapped Spider-Man 4 would have used and why Spidey’s classic origin wasn’t even discussed for Captain America: Civil War. On the subject of Acheson, because he got involved with Spider-Man later on in the creative process, he’s on record for not liking the hard shell Green Goblin mask that Willem Dafoe wore, but he wasn’t able to get the original costume designers to change it. Because of his dissatisfaction with the mask, Acheson wasn’t a fan of the scene where Norman Osborn attempts to recruit Tobey Maguire’s web-slinging hero to his side. The costumer designer explained: 

The trouble about all of these costumes is that the processes of making them are (exhausting). And if somebody says, 'No, I don't want (that),' you've got to retread your steps because of the processes of casting and painting them. There were lots of beautiful drawings that Warren Manser, one of the illustrators, did where we, again, the whole (mask) opened out, and he was able to talk. Because I knew that there was this scene coming up, which is so ridiculous, which is the scene on a rooftop where Spider-Man and the Green Goblin (talk). I remember sitting there in the cinema and going, 'Oh, this is so bad!'

For those who need a refresher, after Spider-Man and Green Goblin’s first confrontation at the World Unity Fair, the latter assaulted the former at the Daily Bugle building, temporarily paralyzed his adversary and then dropped him off at a nearby rooftop to persuade him to join his evil crusade. It was one of the more memorably moments in Spider-Man, but for James Acheson, because the majority of Willem Dafoe’s face was still covered by that mask, that took away from the power of the dialogue that the actor was delivering. Hey, at least Norman dropped the lenses in the mask to show his eyes during that scene, which can be viewed below.

Early into Spider-Man’s development, an animatronic Green Goblin mask was designed that would have made the character look more like his cinematic counterpart. However, that design was eventually scrapped, and while James Acheson did his best to put his own spin on the Green Goblin mask, he obviously wasn’t pleased with the final product. Perhaps he felt some relief seeing the Green Goblin mask destroyed in Spider-Man: No Way Home last year, allowing Willem Dafoe's incredible facial expressions to shine in all their glory more often.

If you’re now in the mood to re-watch 2002’s Spider-Man, you can do so with a Netflix subscription or Hulu subscription. For those curious about what the future of Spider-Man in film looks like, check out which Black Panther star has been brought aboard for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.