Did Marvel Steal Spider-Man’s Costume?

Did Marvel Steal Spider-Man’s Costume?


– [Steve] The burden of
proof is on the person who makes the assertion, claim, charge. Some clippings, et cetera,
are not rational proof of anything but some clippings, et cetera. – So, as the story goes, when first designing the
character of Spider-Man, Marvel icon Stan Lee turned
to his frequent collaborator and legendary artist Jack
Kirby to draw up the costume. But Kirby’s design of the character was too strong and heroic. Spider-Man needed to look different from the stereotypical superheroes of the past. Stan then turned to other legendary artist Steve Ditko to take a crack at it. Ditko’s design of Spider-Man
was sleek, it was bold, it made sense for an acrobatic,
wall-crawling superhero and it might have been stolen. (dramatic music) How are you doing you wonderful nerds? Scott here and this
controversy was written about a few years back in a
New York Post article titled The Billion-Dollar
Spider-Man ‘Cover-Up’, and a few of you guys have
sent this my way to look into. ‘Cause like busting comic misconceptions used to be a thing that we did on this channel, occasionally. You see, this Spider-Man costume debuted with the character in the
Marvel Comics from 1962, but then there’s this little oddity a literal spider man costume created by Halloween company Ben Cooper that hit store shelves in 1954. That’s eight years before
Peter Parker would make his first appearance as the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. And I wanna be clear, this wasn’t some random,
small-time costume maker. While the company went
bankrupt in the 80s and the 90s and really isn’t around
in full force today, Ben Cooper was one of the
largest Halloween costume manufacturers between the 1950s and 70s. Their cheap costumes were iconic, they were everywhere, and they dominated the
Halloween market for decades. So, is it possible that when
designing Spider-Man’s costume, Steve Ditko drew inspiration
from this spider man that existed in the public for
nearly a decade at that point? If that was the case, then
you might expect Ben Cooper to approach Marvel and say something like, hey, that’s our idea could
you stop making money off of our idea, please! Okay, thank you. I love you. You know, basic cease and
desist copyright, whatever. But here’s a weird thing. Just a few months after
Spider-Man’s comic book debut, Ben Cooper and Marvel struck a licensing deal for the character. Ben Cooper would make an
official Spider-Man costume in place of their initial, yellow one. And here it is right here. Well, actually this is a
version of the costume sold in the 70s, but it’s the
same basic design as the one that hit store shelves in 1963. It’s almost a hybrid of the
Spider-Man comic costume and the original Ben Cooper costume. It incorporates a lot of yellow and has more webbing
patterns printed over it, with a creepy, hairy
spider emblem on the chest, and the mask is pretty okay except whoops, I’m a hell man. Oh God, there’s like
70s diseases in there. It’s all just a little odd, isn’t it? I mean not the costume, of course that is, but Spider-Man just made
his first appearance by the end of 1962, and by 1963 he already had official merch? Granted, that on its own
might not sound that weird, considering today where we
slap logos on everything but as far as we know, this
Ben Cooper Spider-Man costume was the first ever piece of
Marvel merchandise, period. That’s a little strange
because, again, Ben Cooper was a huge company and they
were all about licensing characters from pop culture
to make their cheap costumes, but they got a hold of this
brand new Spider-Man character before they tried for other, more popular, superheroes like Batman who’d have been out for ages at that point. It’s just a little suspicious. And there’s one more twist to this story. Hypothetically, if
Steve Ditko was inspired by the Ben Cooper spider
man when he drafted up the design of the Marvel character, then credit should really go to the artist who created that yellow mess. So, who might that be? (dramatic music) Yeah, that’s right, according
to this article, Jack Kirby may have been working at Ben Cooper, possibly designing costumes, theoretically drawing up this
specific spider man idea. And that’s why, as the article explains, years later when Jack Kirby
was asked about his involvement with creating Marvel’s Spider-Man,
he has said things like, – [Jack] I created Spider-Man. We decided to give it to Steve Ditko. I drew the first Spider-Man cover. I created the character. I created the costume. – So, the full idea, to
wrap your head around it, is this, Stan Lee approached
Jack Kirby to design the costume for their
new character Spider-Man, Jack drew an idea that Stan didn’t like, so he passed the project
off to Steve Ditko who drew inspiration from
the Ben Cooper costume that was designed nearly a
decade prior by Jack Kirby, and Marvel kept the
whole thing under wraps for decades, all this time,
for reasons I am sure… Uh-oh, my common sense is tingling. I’m sorry, I can’t keep
pretending like this tangled web of conspiracy theories holds any water. This is the part of the video where I say, no, this is dumb. Almost as dumb as gluing
half a mask to your face for a visual joke without any plan on how to remove it painlessly. Ow, ow, ow! Look, it can be really easy to latch onto conspiracy theories like this. It’s why I framed the video around this air of dark intrigue. The hint of a secret
cover-up being exposed is exciting, it’s enticing. And I mean when Steve
Ditko, himself, was asked point blank if he stole
the design of Spider-Man from the Ben Cooper
costume, he wrote back, rather ominously, – [Steve] The burden of
proof is on the person who makes the assertion, claim, charge. Some clippings, et cetera,
are not rational proof of anything but some clippings, et cetera. – And as mysterious as
that response sounds, the sentiment in there is right. And at this point in the video,
I do think it’s worth noting that the author of the
New York Post article that covered this whole
costume conspiracy thing wasn’t just some random
person on the internets, it was Reed Tucker, author of Slugfest, a book about the history
of Marvel and DC’s rivalry. A book that a lot of my
friends say is really good, and factually accurate,
but articles like this kind of make me second
guess some of this stuff. Reed, I doubt that you’re watching, but I kinda expected better
of you, given your reputation. As thrilling and sensational
as a secret Marvel cover-up would be, I’d
wager the explanation behind this is a lot simpler. Like for example, it’s
totally possible that when designing the costume for Spider-Man, Steve Ditko was inspired by the Ben Cooper spider man costume, and
that’s why they both have lots of web imagery. However, when you’re designing the costume of a character
with a spider motif, doesn’t it just kind of make sense to incorporate web imagery in there? I mean, just look at The Spider, a pulp-magazine and serial
hero from the 1930s and 1940s, decades before all this
Ben Cooper-Marvel stuff. Wow, look at that! Webs, who would’ve thunk it? And other than that one detail, the costumes just don’t
look that similar to me. The painfully yellow fabric looks nothing like the cherry-red and
cobalt blue color scheme of Spidey’s classic costume. The similarities are webs
and the label spider man, which wasn’t even Ditko’s idea, Stan Lee came up with that name. However, there is one part
of the article’s conclusion that I do actually agree with. When Spidey made his big comic book debut, Ben Cooper probably saw a
character with the same name and a vaguely similar costume, so they approached Marvel and
struck up some kind of deal. You know, like, you have a
spider man, we have a spider man. Let’s work together on this one. So, the following year, a new
Ben Cooper Spider-Man costume hit the shelves that more
closely resembled the webhead, and became the first known
piece of official Marvel merch. So, that just leaves the
plot threads with Jack Kirby. Right, like what could Jack
Kirby mean when he said that he created Spider-Man
and his costume? Isn’t that what Steve Ditko did? Well, honestly, that
is a huge can of worms that deserves its own video. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding who exactly created which
elements of Spider-Man. – And that’s where I come in. That’s right guys, Scott
isn’t the only person discussing the fascinating history of Spider-Man’s costume this week, and also wearing kind of
ugly shirts while doing it. – Hey! – In fact, while the Ben
Cooper costume may have played a role in Steve Ditko’s
original design for Spider-Man, Jack Kirby has a lot
to answer for himself. Over on my channel, I recently
released a video discussing another comic book
creation of Jack Kirby’s, one that predates Spider-Man, and may have played a role in bringing our favorite wall-crawler to life. – Yeah, you know, a lot of
this comic book history stuff is based on hearsay. Like, was Jack Kirby really
working at Ben Cooper designing costumes between
jobs as the article posits? Did he create this yellow
spider man costume? I don’t know. The article cites no source for this info. They say rumor has it, but like whose rumor? What rumor? You can’t just say that with
nothing to back it up, Reed. What are you doing, Reed? I mean, theoretically,
the answer might be found in Ben Cooper’s records, but their factory burned down in 1989 destroying everything and… No, stop being paranoid! The fire was not a part
of some devious cover-up. This isn’t helping. Can we just cut it? Cut
this out of the vi– (dramatic music) All right, let’s keep it going. That’s really fun. Hey, thanks so much for
watching that video. Please go check out
Owen’s video after this. It’ll be linked in the description below, and at the end screen, the
last 20 seconds of the video. You get it. A true story, Owen and I actually came up with this same topic for a
video at the exact same time, independently from one another, and when we discovered this
we kind of panicked a little, well I panicked I can’t speak for Owen, I panicked a little bit ’cause I knew that he’d be able to get his video out faster, but we decided a good
compromise would be to turn it into kind of a last-minute collab, so I, mostly, covered this
weird conspiracy theory with the costume, but Owen
has a ton of other detail that goes into the creation of Spider-Man. Go check it out, it’s a good time. And hey, if you liked this
video you can support us over on Patreon. I’d really appreciate it. That’s where all these
scrolling names are coming from. You can get your name here too. And I would especially like
to thank Cristoffer Lange, Everett Parrott, Jonat Campos. I’m so sorry. Sonali Manka, Ariella Kelley,
Dave Weston, Devin Gosselin, Luis Orozco, Matias Tironi,
Shawn Griffin, Bart Labeda, Chris Osborne, David
H. Adler, David Holley, Denny Sandberg, Dr. Trace
Belcher, Jamie Price, John Gordon Nightingale II. I’m never gonna get tired of saying that. Johnathan Amrein, Jonathan
Lonowski, Matt Valentin, Matthew Jeanos, Natalie
Englund, Nathaniel Naranjo, Stephen Temple, Zach Van
Stanley, Zachary Bahar, and all of the other
wonderful nerds who support us over at Patreon.com/NerdSync. Link in the description. Click or tap right here
to see Owen’s video, or right here to see something else from us here at NerdSync. Thanks for watching. My name is Scott, reminding
you to read between the panels and grow smarter through comics. See ya! (upbeat music)

100 Replies to “Did Marvel Steal Spider-Man’s Costume?”

  1. And for the 1 million question NerdSync…..which is your favorite? A. DC
    B. Marvel
    C. I wont answer cause I dont really like comics😑

  2. Actually jack Kirby stole marvels spider man idea and Steve ditco was shown the previous design and made it better

    In other words jack Kirby stole spider man and gave it to Ben cooper.

  3. It's so weird tho. Like, what even IS the spiderman costume? Wouldn't it be a spider/human hybrid? Is the spiderman costume supposed to be a superhero as well?

  4. Every comic book fan knows that Cooper created the name, costume and character before marvel but Cooper doesn't get the credit due to Cooper striking a deal with marvel.

  5. There is no proof that anyone at marvel ever saw the costume. You are making an assumption here. Much like folks claiming that Sam Raimi stole the idea of the Evil Dead from the older film Equinox. Even if in both instances it looks like they did, it doesn't mean that they did. I think it is just similar in both instances. I do believe that someone at Ben Cooper's probably saw the Spider-Man comic and brought it to Ben's attention, and he went to Marvel to make a deal to produce their Spider-Man costumes. Since Ditko had no kids, he probably did not know anything about the Ben Cooper costume, and since he lived in the city, he probably would not have noticed one anyway.
    Sometimes you do have to just take folks at their word.

  6. What about Stan Lee stealing the MLJ character, the Fox, and made him into Spider-man?  The Fox worked as a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle.  He had a camera installed in his Fox Belt and then later inside his chest insignia's eyes, flashing out to blind crooks and take their photos at the same time.  Then selling pics to the Daily Bugle.  Not sure if the editor then was J.J.J. or not though.  Maybe you ought to do a comparison of the two heroes some day.

  7. As you showed, characters with a spidery motif had been around in comic books since the 1940s. The number of Captain America (or is it the Shield?) knock offs is ridiculous. The Shadow, Flash Gordon, & Superman for crying out loud all have a host of forgotten counterfeits. I'm thinking there may have been an IRL luchadore called El hombre arano.

  8. What about Batman's bat nipples being stolen from ancient muscle cuirasses? Is there an old Ben Cooper costume with nipples on it from the 80s just eight years before Batman and Robin came out?

  9. What if the original drawing jack kirby came up with is the yellow one and jack Kirby just took it to Ben cooper and gave it to them

  10. I'm sorry, but Ditko's quote doesn't apply here. Yes, that is true in general. But how does it address or refute all the "convenient" coincidences? It doesn't. Doesn't prove them right/true, doesn't prove them wrong/false, it just doesn't address them at all. There seems to have some evidence, though not enough to be conclusive. Saying that the burden of proof lies on the people actually bringing some rather curious evidence isn't exactly a defence or a counter point, it is a deflection to avoid addressing said evidence (or alleged evidence). It just doesn't work like that.

  11. Honeslty your videos are under valued. The amount of effort gone into the research to find this information all the while making it cinematically appealing and actually getting ahold of a 1970 costume is just amazing. You deserve more views for this much effort

  12. Is it possible Jack Kirby’s design just got in a bit more than previously thought with Steve Ditko’s design being slimmed down with a few other minor changes? I could believe that.

  13. I basically think that Ben Cooper had foresight–he saw the future in the character before almost anybody else did and my understanding is that he his prescience paid off, because, if I recall, the Spiderman outfit became their biggest seller ever.

  14. Web theming on a costume for a spider based superhero is pretty much a given… The use of man after spider is just a common thing for superheros, iron man, Ant Man, Batman, Superman, Aqua Man

  15. I don't think the costume is obvious, to have webs all over, the mask with similar eyes, the costume having the same design and a spider logo on the chest. The spider logo alone wouldn't have meant a copy but… If you swap yellow for red and black for blue it is basically the same costume

  16. Ditko most definitely was inspired by the Ben Cooper Spider Man costume. You dont say "the burden of the proof is on the person making the charge" The Charge!? Thats a strong responce. Yeah Ol'e Stevo swiped the basic design from that costume 🤣

  17. Oh hey, Matt Valentin is my name too! The last name is pronounced more like Val-en-tin not Va-len-tin.

  18. It is actually pretty common for artists to borrow ideas from other places, I was going to but an example but couldn’t think of any lol

  19. Interesting, I had that Spiderman costume as a kid. Always wondered why it was yellow, and had a hairy spider on it. Back then that's all there was. There was no adherence to the actual look of the characters for some reason then. Specially with the Ben Cooper stuff.

  20. Dude I love how you edit the whole folder throw scenes are so dope and your funny af. First video I’ve seen of yours. New sub.

  21. hey what's that comic at 0:31 ?
    it'd be great if somebody would tell me… alright thank you…

    i love you…

  22. The only similarity between the costumes is the webbing … and if you're gonna try and say that you own the right to use a web pattern for a SPIDER BASED CHARACTER you're out of your mind.

  23. You're forgetting one thing son, Kirby stole Spider-man from his old partner Joe Simon. The Comic Book Makers.

  24. Oh my god!…. I cant believe marvel stole the costume for spiderman noire from famous pulp hero the spider

  25. It's possible that Jack Kirby took inspiration from the costume he designed and made it look heroic, and Ditko took inspiration from Kirby's drawing without knowing about the Ben Cooper costume at all.

  26. Dude the gag where you glued half the mask to your face and then it hurt your face was totally worth it because as soon as you came out with the half mask on talking about Spider Sense it like struck my heart

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