Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man knows the value of a good first impression. If only he had impressed J. Jonah Jameson the first time they met, imagine how much more enjoyable the wall-crawler’s life would have been. Certainly far fewer “Threat or Threat” headlines screaming at you on newsstands, that’s for sure.
So now that Webslinger has joined the wild nature of Fortnite taking place in Fortnite x Marvel: War Zero, he knows that he cannot appear in the same old, same old. However, that doesn’t mean he didn’t end up looking familiar.
The first reminder of the past is Spidey’s cover pose. Ron Lim and Israel Silva’s cover is a conscious homage, as indicated by the “After Mike Zeck” scrawled between their names, to the famous secret wars costume #8. It is a suitable choice. After all, that image highlighted Spider-Man’s black suit, though Amazing Spider-Man #252 actually beat Secret Wars in the first black costume reveal hit.
To shift the focus to the costume itself, one can immediately denote several classic signifiers of the Spider-Man costume. The most obvious of these is the color scheme. Webhead’s Fortnite Zero Skin costume is blue and red with black accents. Most of the black is concentrated in a central spider on the wallcreeper’s chest. This is also pretty classic Spider-Man. While it’s not always black, almost even the version of a spider costume that Peter Parker has donned featured some sort of centered spider logo.
While this suit lacks the black webbing of the classic Spider-duds, it visually implies the webbing with various black lines that represent circuits or plate connections on the costume. Even the boots, which break that pattern, contain a heavy dose of black to remind us of Spidey’s use of black straps on his feet in his usual look.
The helmet doesn’t quite match the typical spider mask eye shape, but its stylized rendition is certainly close enough to recognize the reference right away. The headdress is clearly more of a helmet thanks to a mask, but again, it’s close enough that there’s no confusion. It also features black lines that, while not a net, create a visual cousin of sorts.
However, the Zero Skin does more than repeat the classic elements of Spider-Man’s costume. It closely resembles another armored skin that the Webslinger briefly sported. Known as Spider-Armor MK III, the costume first debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #682 (by Dan Slott and Stefano Caselli) almost exactly ten years ago. In the “Ends of the Earth” storyline, Spider-Man competes against Doctor Octopus’s plan to accelerate Earth’s environmental degradation. The supervillain is dying, hoping to essentially ensure that the human race dies at roughly the same time.
At first glance, they look almost identical. They’re both armor, and they both wear red helmets, they both feature that oversized black spider in the center of the chest. The shades of blue and red in each costume are reasonably similar, if not exact. The same can be said structurally for the waist pieces of both suits, which look like belts with roughly the same shape.
A deeper exploration, however, picks up several differences. The most immediate is the bulk of the MK III. The Fortnite outfit is obviously armor, but it’s also form-fitting. Spidey does not appear to be any larger than normal while he is wearing it. Even his shoulder pads mold tightly to the rest of the suit. The MK III, by contrast, gives Spider-Man a larger profile. His shoulder pads kind of lifted off the suit, the thick gauntlets.
This makes sense given the different purpose of both costumes. Fortnite is a video game that thrives on speed and dexterity. Given the amount of firepower in the game, armor makes sense, but armor that slows Spidey to any degree is counterproductive. On the other hand, Spider Armor exists to help the Webslinger withstand a gauntlet of supervillains, members of the Sinister Six, in their attempt to get to Doc Ock. Thus, the armor focuses on keeping his body safe round after round of likely bruising physical encounters.
There are also other stylistic differences. While the color schemes are the same, the MK III uses considerably more black, specifically on the sides of Spider-Man’s torso and almost all of his legs. The shoulder pads are blue and red on the comics outfit in contrast to the Fortnite Zero Skin, which are solid red. The MK III doesn’t even bother to imply straps like the Fortnite suit does, using no black or stitching to imply that cloth pattern on the torso.
The mediums they are designed for speak to the differences of the two costumes. Fortnite thrives on both color and movement, so it makes sense to value red and blue over black. It also makes sense that you use solid colors with black lines. Comics, by contrast, are static images. Therefore, the artist can represent the movement without worrying about what the suit would look like in actual motion.
Black gives the suit a higher level of versatility. He can create contrast at times when the script calls for Spider-Man to be bold and dynamic. In moments where stealth and silence are more in the order of the moment, black can merge with the shadows or the background. It’s also easier to render more complex color layers, such as on shoulder pads, when an artist doesn’t have to consider how those colors will (or won’t) work when a player is directing the character to jump, spin, or flip. .
Ultimately, the costumes are similar enough to evoke one another, whether intentionally or not. However, they have enough differences that neither is a direct copy of the other. So when Fortnite promises a new Spider-Man costume, in fact, he’s actually delivering on it. Finally, the designs are maximized for their respective media, ensuring that they maximize each other’s respective visual strengths and weaknesses.