Anyone who grew up in the 20th century likely remembers those Halloween costumes made by Ben Cooper Inc., usually consisting of an unconvincing mask and a plastic smock seemingly made out of hastily recycled grocery bags, depicting a picture of the character you were supposed to be inhabiting. Like, if there was ever a movie where Darth Vader wore a Darth Vader T-shirt, the illusion would be perfect.

Weirdly, this one costume company has had a way more significant impact on popular culture than you might think, starting with the fact that they made a Spider-Man costume … eight years before Marvel introduced the character. Sure, Ben Cooper’s “Spider Man” costume was yellow, but it still seems like an odd coincidence. When questioned in 2014 about whether or not the popular costume company could have influenced the character, Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko responded with a “terse” denial.

This isn’t even all that surprising considering that Ben Cooper was constantly ahead of the curve of pop-culture. Ben Cooper’s deal with Disney in the 1930s, and subsequent licensing of non-horror characters, “expanded” Halloween “beyond the traditional ghost-and-goblin fare.” And the costume company was also the first to trademark the phrase “Super Hero” back in 1967, even before Marvel and DC sought to. Plus they released Batman costumes years before the Adam West series brought the character into the mainstream, and obtained the licence for Star Wars long before it became a smash hit – eventually leading to a shortage of Star Wars-related costumes in October 1977… and also, for some reason, a shortage of Hitler costumes?

The Associated Press

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how they stirred controversy by releasing the “first costume based on an R-rated movie”: this 1979 Alien get-up – which in retrospect, looks more like a Xenomorph who’s been hiding  out beneath an opera house dropping chandeliers on people.

Although to be fair, this was during a time when toy companies thought that the alien sex monster who graphically burst out of a dude’s stomach would be the next Stretch Armstrong. 

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