“Farewell, Peter Parker. Know this, I will carry on in your name. You may be leaving this world, but you are not leaving it to a villain. I swear. I will be Spider-Man. Better yet, with my unparalleled genius—and my boundless ambition—I’ll be a better Spider-Man than you ever were. From this day forth, I shall become…The Superior Spider-Man!”
The Superior Spider-Man
Those who follow my Facebook or Instagram pages know I’m a dedicated Spider-Man cosplayer. It started with buying the black suit to celebrate completing Les Mills Combat, then over time I added Civil War Spidey, Venom, and a genderbend of Spider-Gwen to my roster. I’ve also started rolling with the Web-Warriors, a local Spider-Verse cosplay group. Earlier this year, I felt a hankering to cosplay a new Spider-Man suit. I asked my Facebook friends for suggestions, and one stood out more than the rest: Superior Spider-Man.
For those not in the know, the Superior Spider-Man suit was featured in a period of time in Spider-Man comics from 2013 to 2014 when Doctor Octopus hijacked Peter Parker’s body to escape his impending demise from cancer. He vowed to be a better hero than Parker ever was, and at first it seemed like he actually became the better hero: He apprehended quadruple the number of criminals, improved Peter’s romantic relationships, and finished the doctorate degree Parker had given up on years before. Over time though, his violent and brutal nature drew concern from other superheroes and Peter managed to reclaim his body after an intense mental duel.
It’s a great Spider-Man story arc, and I highly recommend it.
The core of every Spidey cosplay is the suit. I’ve learned a fair bit about the do’s and don’ts of ordering Spider-Man costumes over the last year, so I knew going in what I wanted/needed. I purchased a suit pattern file from Gun Head Design, then turned to ZentaiZone for printing and sewing the suit. I highly recommend both for your Spidey suit needs.
Next, I decided to finally invest in a face shell to get that smooth head shape. Without wearing a face shell, too many facial details (such as one’s lips) are visible. I turned to my dear friend Spider-Man of North Carolina to commission a shell and the Superior suit’s lenses. Once again, high quality work that I recommend.
A quick note if you choose to buy a shell for your next Spider-Man cosplay: Add an extra inch or two to your head circumference measurements when ordering your suit.
In the comics, Superior Spider-Man employs an army of eight thousand “spider-bots” to patrol and monitor New York. He controls them with two high tech gauntlets. To recreate these, I built off of techniques I previously utilized for my simple web-shooters. I started by drawing a pattern onto both plastic for structure (from a storage bin) and EVA foam for texture.
Then, I put them together with epoxy glue.
Since I lacked a heat gun at the time, I used a stove to shape the gauntlets. Don’t try this at home kids, it was a stupid decision. Buy a damn heat gun, it costs less than a trip to the ER for burns.
The red buttons on each gauntlet were, of all things, spray painted googly eyes. You’d be surprised at home many ways they can be utilized for cosplay. To make them fit correctly on the gauntlets, I used a dremel tool to carve a pit for them to sit in.
Next of course was PlastiDip then silver spray paint.
After adding elastic to hold the gauntlets and gluing the red buttons in place, the gauntlets were ready!
The coolest aspect of the Superior Spider-Man costume is the harness with four spider legs. Guess Octavius couldn’t help but fall back into old habits with his equipment. This was completely unlike any costume prop I had ever attempted before, so I was eager to undertake a new challenge. Per usual, I researched what others had done for cosplaying him. I found a handful of people who wore just his suit to conventions, but only a few who attempted to create the harness. Most used legs crafted from PVC pipe, such as this costume by Blerd Vision:
That design, however, utilizes unmoving, static pipe joints. I wanted my spider legs to be poseable. Here was the core conflict: The limbs of this harness were supposed to be huge (five to six feet long), and they had to be simultaneously poseable but also able to hold themselves in that pose. I debated numerous solutions (such as using thick copper wire), but in the end, I took a suggestion from Aponi Tiva Cosplay to order PVC pipe joints from Spider Hill Prop Works.
I’d like to take a moment to rant about how wonderful this product and company is: The joints effortlessly held up the weight of the legs, and were easily adjustable with T-Knobs (sold separately but completely worth it). When I accidentally broke a joint, they sent me a replacement for free. Highly recommend this company if you ever need some fittings for a PVC pipe craft or cosplay project.
Once the joints arrived, it was time to really get to work on this bad boy. I used T-connectors and curved elbows to create the “spine” of the harness, tasked with holding all of the legs up.
Then, it was time to cut out the twelve individual leg segments. The first two segments of each leg were two feet long, while the third segment of each leg was measured to be one foot long. Counting the extra length added by the joints and leg tips, each leg ended up being seven feet, four inches long. Needless to say, screws were needed to hold all of the pieces together in their connectors.
Speaking of the leg tips, I couldn’t just have the ends of the PVC pipe, right? Similar to the claws on my Venom cosplay, I cut out tips resembling the ends of spider legs from 2mm craft foam. I used my recently-acquired heat gun to shape them perfectly for the pipes, then smoothed over the seams with scotch tape before laying down a layer of PlastiDip.
Superior Spider-Man completes the harness with a spider-shaped base. To recreate this, I cut a shape out of EVA foam (the pattern source I have unfortunately lost, so I can’t credit the creator), shaped it, and textured it with PlastiDip. I chose not to spraypaint it (to match the color of the harness base in the comics), and left it colored black because I felt there was getting to be too much red on the piece and it needed contrast.
The spider needed to be removable (so I could set the spine down on flat), so I affixed a magnet to the spine. I ran into a problem though: Due to curvature of the spider, I could just affix the magnet to it and stick to the other. To cover the gap, I carved a scrap piece of expanding foam to fit and glued the magnet to it. Worked like a charm.
Hoisting Up the Spider
Here was a fun crisis moment: My original plan was to affix magnets to both the spine of the harness and a backpack I would wear underneath the suit. This was intended to remove the need for visible straps. Due to various circumstances, I wasn’t able to test the magnets until the night before the intended debut at NC Comicon: Oak City 2017. Unfortunately…the magnets were not strong enough to hold the harness. I had to think of some solution, so I turned to the method I originally hoped to avoid: straps.
Due to the natural curvature of the human spine, the top of the harness would tilt downwards. This necessitated a waist strap in addition to the two shoulder straps. These were all accomplished with duffel bag replacement straps held in place with photo-mounting screws.
Meanwhile, the waist strap was held in place with a hook screw…that I just took off of the garage wall so I didn’t have to run back to the store.
After all of the stress, accidental cuts, trips to Home Depot, and time spent working…the harness was ready to roll.
Regrets and Redos
Let’s face it, we’re never completely happy with how a cosplay turns out despite the praise we receive for it. Before I trot the costume out again at Animazement, I will probably redo the spine and legs. This is because I ended up with some rather sloppy looking screw holes from places I screwed up and had to make another. PVC pipe is cheap, so that won’t be a huge issue. Another reason to redo the spine is to attempt the magnet and backpack solution again, this time with stronger magnets.
I’m also considering making additional craft foam pieces to act as “sleeves” for the joints. They need to be easily slid off and on so the leg poses can be easily adjusted, so we’ll see how well that works.
End of the (Web) Line
Superior Spider-Man was perhaps my most ambitious cosplay project yet, and I feel like it still isn’t complete. I still got a lot of positive response to the costume, and I look forward to perfecting it. As always, here are some pictures of me suited up, courtesy of a shoot with Phosphorescence: