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Willem Dafoe: Green Goblin Mask Criticisms Probably Led to ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Redesign

Dafoe reprises the role of Green Goblin, but his costume has an upgrade.

SPIDER-MAN, Willem Dafoe, 2002, (c) Columbia/courtesy
©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Willem Dafoe is a comic book movie icon thanks to his performance as the Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s 2002 blockbuster “Spider-Man,” but not everyone liked the way the character looked. Dafoe’s Green Goblin mask received criticism, with Roger Ebert memorably writing in his review that Dafoe looked like “a high-tech action figure with a mouth that doesn’t move.” Dafoe told The New York Times this week that these criticisms are probably what led the “Spider-Man: No Way Home” team to redesign the mask for his return as the Green Goblin in the new Marvel Cinematic Universe tentpole.

“I must be honest, I am aware that there was some criticism of that [Green Goblin] mask in the original [Sam Raimi “Spider-Man”],” Dafoe said. “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.”

Dafoe has earned praise for his return as Green Goblin. The actor told The Times, “When [producer] Amy Pascal and [director] Jon Watts called me up and said we’d like to pitch you this idea, I thought, ‘This is crazy. But let’s see what they have to say,’” recalled Dafoe. “I really didn’t want to do a cameo. I wanted to make sure there was something substantial enough to do that wasn’t just a tip of the hat. And the other thing was, I said I really want there to be action — I want to take part in action scenes. Because that’s really fun for me. It’s the only way to root the character.”

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is now playing in theaters nationwide.