Classic Doctor Who Has A Secret Connection To Raimi's Spider-Man Movies

Although it might not seem apparent that classic Doctor Who and 2000s superhero films had anything in common, the cult classic actually had a secret connection with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. Besides the fact that both delved into the sci-fi and fantasy genre, particular personnel specificities and creative choices linked these two stories across both time and an entire ocean. Specifically, a lingering connection between the two franchises resided in the second Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man 2, and seasons 12-18 of Doctor Who during the tenure of the fourth Doctor.

Raimi's Spider-Man 2 chronicled the second installment of Peter Parker’s, portrayed by Tobey Maguire, journey as the hero Spider-Man, in which he faced off against his mentor after the latter turned to crime in the wake of a disastrous experiment. The second film in Raimi’s series debuted one of Spider-Man’s iconic villains, the infamous Doctor Octopus, or Doc Ock for short, while it also explored Peter’s struggle between his personal life and his superhero career while he seemed to be losing his powers. Meanwhile, the Fourth Doctor, portrayed by Tom Baker from 1974 to 1981, faced a now-familiar cadre of villains and friends, including the Time Lords, The Master, Zygons, K9, and Sarah Jane Smith. The Fourth Doctor was one of the most well-known iterations of the character for his whimsy and occasional brooding and righteous anger, not to mention his distinctive silhouette and trademark scarf.

Related: Will Maguire & Raimi's Spider-Man 4 Ever Actually Happen?

While both these franchises have classic, recognizable heroes and villains, it’s not the characters themselves that secretly connected Doctor Who and Raimi's Spider-Man. That honor went to the costumes they wore. James Acheson, a British costume designer born in 1946, worked on both series and created both Tom Baker’s iconic look and Doc Ock’s arachnoid appearance. Acheson’s work was acclaimed throughout numerous production circles, and he’s particularly known for his artistry in The Man in the Iron MaskDangerous Liaisons, and The Last Emperor, which won him an Oscar in 1988.

Specifically, Acheson made his mark on Spider-Man 2 with his work on both Spider-Man and Doc Ock’s costumes. For the former, Acheson made Spidey’s costume even bolder and slightly more elegant in its lines and arachnid emblem and increased its mobility. He made the same efforts on Doc Ock’s costume, which actor Alfred Molina, who played the film’s villain, described in an interview (via Daily Variety):

"...a brilliant design that looked extraordinary on the drawings. But he also worked very closely with me in terms of comfort and how practical it would be. It doesn't look like a costume, but an integral part of the character's physical presence."

Acheson utilized this creativity and attentiveness to an actor’s abilities while playing on the monstrous side much earlier in his career during his time on classic Doctor Who. Credited both for creating the trademark look of the Fourth Doctor and many of the series’ alien villains, Acheson’s use of unorthodox materials such as fiberglass, latex rubber, and molded plastic to create monsters let him explore costuming not so much as a design process, but an artistic one. This experience later informed his work in superhero movies such as Spider-Man 2. But when it came to heroes, Acheson’s process was just as unique. Supposedly, the Doctor’s scarf was as serendipitous as the Doctor himself. Acheson has said that while he selected the scarf’s unique wool colors, he had no idea how long it was going to be since he asked a friend to knit it as a favor.

Whether he’s crafting heroes or villains, monsters or aliens, Acheson’s secret connection between classic Doctor Who and Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 influenced his growth as a designer and the work he’s done today. After he finished working on the Spider-Man movies, he continued working with superhero films. His most recent projects included Man of Steel and Absolutely Anything, further allowing him to flex his creativity and delight audiences. Meanwhile, Sam Raimi also directed the newly-released Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

More: Doctor Who Actors Are Behind One Major Superhero Movie Villain Trend



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