EXCLUSIVE: Making Of The SPIDER-MAN (2002) Suit; Plus Tobey Maguire's Claustrophobia

<font color=red>EXCLUSIVE:</font> Making Of The SPIDER-MAN (2002) Suit; Plus Tobey Maguire's Claustrophobia

Tom Woodruff Jr., from StudioADI, shares some behind-the-scenes information about making the Spidey suit for Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002). He also reveals what it was like working with Tobey Maguire, and the actor's battle with claustrophobia.

I recently contacted Tom Woodruff Jr. from StudioADI to find out if he could share any information, tidbits about the process of creating the Spider-Man costume. I also wanted to know what it was like working with the star of the film, Tobey Maguire. Below you can read Tom Woodruff Jr.'s fascinating response to my inquiry.

Also below, StudioADI has provided us, ComicBookMovie.com, with an exclusive first look at their latest video. It features some never-before-seen images from the construction of the Spider-Man costume. If you'd like to view more of their wonderful videos visit their YouTube StudioADI channel by clicking here.

Spider-Man - The Making of the Spidey Suit

Tom Woodruff Jr.

We were brought in early in the process, developing the approach that was going to make the Spider-Man suit work not just for Tobey Maguire but also for the different stuntmen who had to match with consistency. We were partnered with designer James Acheson who took to our art and technical mastery to be able to create the many underlying costume elements that would be believable.

We worked for a few months, developing the forms of Spider-Man; the physique beneath the suit (flexible in performance and muscular and strong in appearance – not like a weight-lifter but more like a swimmer), the shape of the head form (the spandex hood had to cling to a definitive heroic shape and allow the actor to breath and talk, not just cling to the actor’s face), the eye shells (many variations from comic book opaque that still allowed vision to translucent were part of the massive R&D phase), the raised webbing detailing (flexible to not inhibit movement but durable to stand up to extensive physical demands), and the spider emblem (finding the right iconic symbol).

While we worked in our studio in Chatsworth, we were also traveling back and forth to Hollywood where Acheson had rented shop space to develop Spider-Man suit art and proceed with the Green Goblin. Into the mix came John David Ridge and the two of them figured out the amazingly effective method of not only imparting texture as a sublimation dye process which turned ordinary spandex into something new and unique, but also built in subtle highlights and shadows to pump up the hero’s physical presence.

Tobey’s first entry into our world was a trip to our studio for a full body life cast as well as molds of his head and hands to make sure the custom muscle suit was going to be an accurate fit to project realistic movement from under the suit. Tobey is an amazingly professional guy – so professional in fact that he didn’t want to burden us with tiny personal details like HE WAS CLAUSTOPHOBIC.

It’s not an unusual condition at all and we’ve cast several actors who have this common and understandable aversion to having their entire body covered and the control of movement taken away with the compression of material all around them.

Taking it like a man, he decided instead to tough it out until he passed the point of no return and began to black out while his body was wrapped in a shell of plaster bandages hardening to create the body mold. Our body casting crew quickly got him safely to the floor so he wouldn’t hurt himself and opened the shell, letting the fresh air relax his body. Tobey confessed that he hadn’t even broached the subject of his claustrophobia with production so we made the call for him, telling the producer that the guy that’s going to play Spider-Man with most of his time in a full body and head costume of foam latex and spandex probably would not be wearing the suit so much…

To his credit, Tobey took one of the very first prototype suits with him and began the long process of training his body and his mind to be able to adapt to performing in the suit while we continued with our process of developing the suit with Acheson.

There’s a funny clip on our studioADI Youtube channel, that shows an early side-by-side test of Tobey and a stunt man. He was still early in self-managing his claustrophobia and you can read the relief on his face when that constricting hood comes off his head.

What was unique in our design of the muscle suit was to separate the forms into individual muscles leaving gaps in between. This meant taking some latitude with real anatomy so each muscle could gently thin out along the perimeter leaving a gap in between that and the next muscle.

The entire muscle suit was run as one piece over a custom stretch bodysuit that was affixed to a fiberglass copy of Tobey’s body. This tight, open weave suit would hold the final muscles together and in place on his body, allowing the final spandex Spidey suit to slip on over top.

The muscles were cast in dense foam latex, the same material used for make-up prosthetics but not as soft. In our initial runs of foam, the material would seep along the underlying stretch bodysuit, leaving a thin connection of foam between the muscles. This meant that an entire custom-made bodysuit was subject to overall failure if too many of the muscles didn’t fill properly or the foam mix was off resulting in muscle density that was too hard or too soft. We did develop to the point of being able to remove individual muscles that didn’t pass inspection, reset Tobey’s body form and partial muscle suit back in the mold, and recast those missing muscles.

We also began to switch to a method of producing individual muscles that would then be attached to the bodysuit, eliminating the foam bleeding in between. But Acheson preferred the look of the muscles connected with tissue thin foam in between so the runs were completed in that manner. We did ultimately refine the process later during testing of Superman Returns, allowing us to create individual muscles separately of the entire body, and place only the best runs on the final bodysuit.

We also found that, once the final custom finished spandex Spidey suit went over our muscle suit, you could faintly see areas of light and dark materials through it. Even though the spandex was custom colored and lit with subtle shadows and highlights through the dying process, it was stretched so tight to eliminate wrinkles that the weave of the material was revealing the under layer of muscles. The solution for that was simple for a changer and the muscle suits were all painted with the appropriate shades of blue and red in the correct pattern to match the spandex suit on top.

Lenses for the eyes had a series of challenges as well. The function challenge was that as Tobey and the stuntmen became active, moisture would form inside the vacuform head shell and condense on the inside of the eye lenses, fogging their vision. We tested methods of plumbing fine tubing on the inside of the shells to direct moving air from a portable source across the inside of the lenses, but that would only work in close and medium shots in which the hose and air supply could be hidden just out of camera range. We finally developed a simple clip arrangement using ultra strong magnets to allow the lens and frame to be removed from the head shell without having to pull off the spandex hood in between every shot. This was of course the easiest solution to effect on set and keep everyone’s vision clear.

With all the stunt work involved, actor and stuntmen burned through approximately 60 finished Spider-Man suits for the shoot, keeping our studio busy for almost a year from start to finish and putting us in collaboration with a great team including Sam Raimi and Laura Ziskin and delighting the fans who had been waiting more than a decade to see Spider-Man brought to the big screen. But it also opened the bigger question…

Just where DID Peter Parker get that suit?

Spider-Man (2002) was directed by Sam Raimi ("Oz: The Great and Powerful"), from a script written by David Koepp. The cast included: Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, and Rosemary Harris. The film had a budget of $140 million, and earned $821 million at the worldwide box office.


I also wanted to showcase Tom Woodruff Jr.'s amazing stop-motion animated film, "Joe Comes to Life," which you can view below. The short features the original and complete Mighty Joe Young (1949) skeletal armature (designed by Willis O'Brien), brought to life for the first time in over 60 years.

"Joe Comes to Life" has been been nominated for a Rondo Award, in the Best Short Film category. The Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards are purely fan-based, so if you enjoy the video below make sure to CLICK HERE and VOTE for Tom's film. Thanks.

Posted By:
Member Since 7/12/2010
Filed Under "Spider-Man" 3/11/2013 Source: StudioADI Channel
DISCLAIMER: ComicBookMovie.com is protected under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and... [MORE]
IronSpider101 - 3/11/2013, 12:30 AM
Badass. Still the best live-action Spidey-Suit there is.

Very interesting.
Webhead007 - 3/11/2013, 12:51 AM
I have even more respect for Toby now...
Jollem - 3/11/2013, 1:05 AM
good stuff, Nails
AsianVersionOfET - 3/11/2013, 1:22 AM
Wow, who woulda' known he was claustrophobic? As Webhead007 said, I have tons of respect for Mr. Maguire now. He took it like a man instead of telling everyone involved the first day of production and making a big deal out of it. Thanks for this Nail, fun to read cool and interesting things on here.
NeoBaggins - 3/11/2013, 1:23 AM
Very nice. Tobey was very dedicated. And wow, that suit is SPIDER-MAN from the comics. [frick]ing awesome!

AsianVersionOfET - 3/11/2013, 1:25 AM
And I'm diggin the bold font in these comments.
CoulsonLives - 3/11/2013, 1:25 AM
Wow, he had to be in that thing for hours? I got some respect for Mr. Maguire!
AsianVersionOfET - 3/11/2013, 1:28 AM
Ahh, the bold font is gone... :[
CoulsonLives - 3/11/2013, 2:03 AM
But sad to say, the muscles looked so fake!
thewolfx - 3/11/2013, 2:19 AM
Tobey mandup

Stupid tobey haters
bbarber2323 - 3/11/2013, 2:19 AM
@Nails....you continue to be the best editor hands down on this site. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.
KelvTwelve - 3/11/2013, 2:30 AM
Tobey had some serious muscles during production. Anybody remember his test footage? He looked like stinkin' Bruce Lee, and he was pretty skinny as well.
breakUbatman - 3/11/2013, 2:50 AM
Nice I prefer the Ditko muscular Spidey as opposed to the gangly Ultimate version we get these days.

Good article
TheFox - 3/11/2013, 3:10 AM
"Just where DID Peter Parker get that suit?"


This was the one big thing that bothered me about the first Spider-Man movie. Peter goes from wearing a goofy-looking sweatsuit/ski mask combo to wearing a full-on, Hollywood-grade superhero outfit in, what, a couple of months? Where the hell did he get that thing?

He sure as hell didn't stitch it himself, like he does in the comics-- the guy would have to be majoring in fashion design to even come CLOSE to having the skills and the tools necessary to assemble an outfit like that. But if he got it or bought it from someone else (a specialty tailor or something), wouldn't that person know who Spider-Man is?

I get that there's got to be a suspension of disbelief here-- after all, it's a Hollywood production, so they don't want their Spider-Man to look like a birthday entertainer-- but it just bothers me that the film skated around the whole costume question without so much as a throwaway explanation. At least in Amazing Spider-Man, there was a pretense given that Peter had constructed the suit on his own (even if it was a ridiculous idea, as the suit looked even MORE polished than Raimi's). But a big part of the comics is that Peter is the hero who has to worry about the tiny little practicalities, like buying the ingredients for web fluid and making sure his costume is stitched together properly; it just seemed weird to completely ignore a huge, gaping part of Peter's everyday reality like that for the films.

GUNSMITH - 3/11/2013, 3:13 AM

NeoBaggins - 3/11/2013, 3:17 AM
Smart business move. If aint broke, dont [frick] it up.
SpectacularJoSh - 3/11/2013, 3:25 AM
Is anybody else getting this message on some of the links posted on the site? I've been getting lots of them since....I'd say it's been happening for over a month now.

CoulsonLives - 3/11/2013, 3:31 AM
The Raimi Trilogy also has plot holes :P
Niklander - 3/11/2013, 4:38 AM
Yeah same thing happens to me maybe something with the liknk?!?!
Jollem - 3/11/2013, 4:46 AM

breakUbatman - 3/11/2013, 4:54 AM

That's true but TASM creators had the benefit of watching Raimi's Trilogy and every other CBM that came out since then

When Raimi's films came out we accepted unrealistic movies like xXx and Die Another Day, it would be dumb if Casino Royale, QoS or Skyfall had the same mistakes as Die Another Day.
CoulsonLives - 3/11/2013, 5:10 AM
Plus Tobey looks too old to be Spidey! As well as the fact he doesn't make jokes to the villains. Only made one during the Wrestling Match.
JackRyan - 3/11/2013, 5:18 AM
loved the first Raimi Spider-Man movie....rest were shit. Fave is the reboot although it has shitty CGI...maybe they will step it up in the sequel
AmazingFantasy - 3/11/2013, 5:29 AM
New suit is brilliantly based off Bagely and Raimi
Fornication - 3/11/2013, 6:38 AM
Great post.
IIIAdamantiumIII - 3/11/2013, 6:40 AM
ugh its so hard to watch the raimi movies now they are soooo cheese.
KelvTwelve - 3/11/2013, 6:41 AM
Thankfully the new suit has charcoaled black raised webbing. The old suit, especially in Spider-Man 2 and 3 made use of silver lined webbing, making it look a little /too/ Hollywood. Still would've preferred a more textured suit. We haven't had an amazing look on the suit so anything could happen, but even the hands on the new Amazing suit look pretty amatuer. compared to the Raimi and old Webb suit
holeymonkey - 3/11/2013, 7:20 AM
I gotta say, as much as I love the Raimi suit...the eyes on the new suit (superior's avatar that is)are perfection. Lets hope Webb brings the rest back to what it should be.
jerryblake - 3/11/2013, 8:29 AM

yeah, they didn't age well
GodzillaKart - 3/11/2013, 8:54 AM
The Raimi suit was great.

Personally, I love how home made the suit in TASM was. It made sense and they explained how he made it. The evolution from that to the suit in the sequel is a great bit of development that adds to the story arc and realism of Webb's series.
storyteller - 3/11/2013, 9:55 AM
When it comes to where Peter got his suit you gotta realize that in the confines of the movie, Peter didn't have to make his suit to be presentable on the big screen.

Peter's suit doesn't have air brushed muscles because in that universe, his muscles show through. He doesn't need to muscle layer nor the helmet. Peter doesn't need to experiment as much with symbols and what not. He doesn't need this exact red and blue. His suit doesn't wrinkle. Maybe his suit went lax on some of the webbing. Maybe Peter spent the entire summer building the new suit. Go on youtube and you will find plenty of people who made the suit for cosplay. Though of course there's is made for movie scenarios.

the suit is only pro because it needs to be to film. In the context of the movie verse it's still basically a cosplay outfit.
ReynMan - 3/11/2013, 10:22 AM
@Josh: Nope. just watched it again to confirm, still working. you're not missing out much though bro, it's just really low-res random shots and photographs of designers cutting out the suit from the material.
THEDARKKNIGHT1939 - 3/11/2013, 12:51 PM
Spider-man 1 and 2 are the definitive Spider-man movies for me.
DirtyDan - 4/2/2013, 4:41 PM
Good article
AUSSYACE - 4/26/2013, 11:40 PM

I get that message with every bloody link on this site now...

How do we get rid of it...

Please log in to post comments.

Don't have an account?
Please Register.