After nearly 20 years, Willem Dafoe's take on the iconic Spider-Man villain was thrust back into the spotlight in No Way Home thanks to the Multiversal shenanigans of Tom Holland's wall-crawling threequel.
Dafoe's Marvel return was something that took a lot of planning from Marvel Studios, with his character going through multiple iterations before the final design was settled upon.
These alternate designs included several differing looks including one in which the character would have worn pieces of an Iron Man suit.
Marvel's One Green Goblin Mandate
According to new information revealed as a part of the Spider-Man: No Way Home: Art of the Movie artbook, Marvel Studios had one mandate for the return of Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin to the big screen.
According to Marvel Studios Head of Visual Development, Ryan Meinerding, the No Way Home team worked tirelessly at taking the "heightened look [of the character] from the first film" and "making it feel like it existed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:"
"The Green Goblin is another character that had a very iconic, heightened look from the first film. We were tasked with seeing how much of that we could keep while still making it feel like it existed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since a lot of the MCU is about technology, I think Adi Granov was the first one to try to add the hood. Everybody was doing such gorgeous work–Visual Development Concept Illustrator Phil Saunders did some hugely dynamic, amazing images of the Goblin on the glider about to throw pumpkins–and it was all aimed at essentially trying to ground the character a little bit more.”
Concept artist Phil Saunders added that "There were thoughts about [the villain] getting access to a lot of MCU tech" as the team tried to incorporate the original design from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films:
“There were thoughts about him getting access to a lot of MCU tech and being able to generate a new suit for himself. And there were different ideas of what that could be."
He mentioned that one of those ideas was this Marvel mandate of including "the purple-and-green colors of the comic book character."
Saunders explored this idea by trying to incorporate purple elements of tech into the Golbin armor, with hints of purple peaking out as a polyurethane layer under his suit.
The Marvel concept artist remembered thinking, "Let's take the suit from the Raimi-verse and just MCU it up a bit," resulting in the costume's final design:
“Let’s take the suit from the Raimi-verse and just MCU it up a bit. In other words, what would that effective design be with the costume molding technology that we have today? A lot of the effort that I put in on the suit was in that direction, trying to make something that, at first glance, is clearly recognizable as the Raimi suit, but just has a little bit of an upgrade to today’s standards and expectations for Super Hero costume design and fabrication.”
Was Green Goblin's MCU Costume a Success?
Coming off the divisive look of Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin from 2002's Spider-Man, fans were fascinated to see just what Marvel Studios would do with the iconic (and at times infamous) armor.
What resulted was a modern take on a comic classic, bringing in that green and purple the character is known for.
While the No Way Home outfit did not go full-comic book as some MCU suits have in the past (i.e., Jake Gyllenhaal's Mysterio), it did pay homage to the caped and hooded version of the character fans have seen on pages for years.
And that was probably as far as Marvel Studios was ever going to go. The actual green-skinned Goblin look is a hard thing to pull off on the big screen and have audiences buy it (just look to Dane DeHaan's take on the character from The Amazing Spider-Man 2).
That is not to say a fully deformed Goblin will never happen in the MCU, but given that Dafoe's version of the Marvel Comics big bad only ever sported the Green Goblin armor, it made sense to just update that.
Spider-Man: No Way Home can be purchased both digitally and physically now.