NOTE: THERE ARE SOME VERY MINOR SPOILERS FOR SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME, BUT NOTHING THAT IS REALLY DETAILED ABOUT THE STORY OR THAT REALLY IMPACTS THE STORY. It was almost twenty years ago and some of you were probably not online as much as you might be right now, there were a lot of people that really didn't like the design of the original Green Goblin in the first Sam Raimi movie. Willem Dafoe wore a suit of armor and a helmet that obscured his entire face. Dafoe is one of the most expressive actors working so it really was quite a shame that they had to cover up his face in the movie. In a piece with The New York Times, Dafoe talked about the criticism of the original mask and how they decided to make a change in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
I must be honest, I am aware that there was some criticism of that [Green Goblin] mask in the original one. 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.
In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Dafoe's Norman Osborn actually smashes the helmet at one point and we see him with a new look by the end of the movie that looks a little more like the look from the comics. Dafoe also talks about how he didn't really want to return for another cameo appearance that could be just reduced to memes.
When Amy Pascal [a "Spider-Man" producer] and Jon Watts [the director of "No Way Home"] 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. 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. Otherwise it just becomes a series of memes.
Dafoe steals every scene that he is in and being able to see his face in his performance throughout the movie really adds something. We're able to see the changes between Norman and the Goblin through his facial expressions and his eyes. It made Norman by far the most terrifying villain in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Summary: For the first time in the cinematic history of Spider-Man, our friendly neighborhood hero is unmasked and no longer able to separate his normal life from the high-stakes of being a Super Hero. When he asks for help from Doctor Strange, the stakes become even more dangerous, forcing him to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: No Way Home, directed by Jon Watts, stars Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau with Marisa Tomei. It was released on December 17, 2021.