Willem Dafoe Admits Green Goblin Complaint Impacted Spider-Man: No Way Home

Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn and Green Goblin
By Jennifer McDonough

Marvel Studios and Sony's Spider-Man: No Way Home sees Spidey himself get in way over his head when he approaches Doctor Strange to conjure up a magical spell to erase the world's knowledge of his identity as Peter Parker. The spell didn't exactly go as planned as Peter's complaints about the spell impacted Strange's ability to cast it, sending an assortment of Multiversal bad guys into the MCU like Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin and Rhys Ifans' Lizard. 

These evildoers, of course, are the same characters from the previous incarnations of the live-action Spider-Man film franchises, also including Jamie Foxx's Electro from 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as well as Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus from Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2.

The villains were given fresh coats of paint upon entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe with some sporting entirely new looks compared to the movies from which they originated. For instance, Dafoe's Goblin is without his iconic mask for much of the film, and apparently, that was due to fans just not liking it. 

Green Goblin Is Done Masking His Emotions

Green Goblin Mask Movies
Spider-Man (left), Spider-Man: No Way Home (right)

Speaking to The New York Times about their roles in Spider-Man: No Way Home, actors Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina had this to say when asked about any changes their characters underwent performance-wise when compared to their original appearances.

Dafoe touched on his infamous Green Goblin mask which he wore in Spider-Man from 2002 while speaking to his acting chops, and how the helmet's detractors influenced the change for No Way Home:

"I must be honest, I am aware that there was some criticism of that [Green Goblin] mask in the original one. We heard it enough that it was probably a consideration, to change it up a little bit. I don’t think about that because I don’t think about emoting with my face. My face follows my heart. It’s just an expression of what you’re feeling."

Molina, on the other hand (or tentacle), described the difference in Doc Ock's "Octourage" while filming 2021's Spider-Man threequel since he no longer had "puppeteers" controlling Doc Ock's tentacles: 

"In my original film, the tentacles — I almost said my tentacles — they were mechanical. They were played by puppeteers who gave them personality. We were like a gang — I dubbed us the Octourage. But this time around, the technology is so much more advanced that the tentacles were computer-generated and I was on my own. That was a whole other way of looking at it." 

Green Goblin's Got a New Getup 

The antagonists' redesgins in Spider-Man: No Way Home have been met with great praise - even those who have more of an allegiance to the villains' original appearances in their first film outings.

Norman Osborne's cobbled-together, patchwork-reminicent second suit looks much more in line with how he's portrayed in the comics. Not to mention that sans mask, Willem Dafoe's expressive face is completely visible as he sneers and laughs maniacally on screen.

And Alfred Molina must have had a bit of an adjustment period for the CGI tentacles, despite Spider-Man 2 coming out so long ago. Still, it should have been much easier for him to dial in his performance and really hit the right notes without having to worry about what the puppeteered, practical appendages were doing at any given time.

Little is known about the upcoming-yet still-untitled fourth Spider-Man film, but audiences can catch Spider-Man: No Way Home in theaters in most markets around the globe.

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