Though his secret identity as the dastardly Green Goblin has long been revealed to the public, the most unintentionally controversial mystery of Spider-Man's greatest opponent, Norman Osborn, remains his hair.
This summer marked Norman Osborn's triumphant return to comic books with writer Zeb Wells (Hellions) and artist John Romita Jr. (Uncanny X-Men)'s The Amazing Spider-Man #7. Norman has returned to not only jumpstart a new era of Oscorp and gift Spider-Man with a powerful new suit but also to grace readers with more of his classic hair. Dating back to the character's brief introduction in 1965's The Amazing Spider-Man #23, Norman's widow's peak along with low waves have remained a staple of the character and his future comic book appearances. The stylistic choice has even become an essential component of Osborn family members such as Norman's own son Harry. In his position as CEO of Oscorp, Norman plays the role of a professional businessman with an expensive three-piece suit and a striking haircut that differs from his other supporting characters.
Marvel Comics finally seemed to acknowledge this strange design choice with Osborn's hair in 2009's Dark Avengers #4 from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mike Deodato Jr. The action-packed issue sees Osborn and his government-sanctioned Dark Avengers team allying with Latverian dictator and feared super villain Doctor Doom to battle sorceress Morgana Le Fay. After saving Latveria from Le Fay's rule, Norman and his Dark Avengers quickly begin their return trip to the states. The team's near defeat to Le Fay does not prevent Dark Avenger Bullseye from bringing up the true elephant in the room... "Hey, what's with your hair anyhow?" Before Osborn can answer, the team is interrupted by the appearance of the group's most powerful asset Robert Reynolds a.k.a. the Sentry.
A common theory that longtime fans have discussed is that Osborn bears an authentic waves-style haircut. Waves are a common hair choice in the African American community, particularly those with curly hair. Though his choice of hairstyle would suggest otherwise, Norman Osborn has always been depicted as a Caucasian character and thus creates ample room for interpretation. What is even more interesting is the faint amount of red within Osborn's curls that may represent a darker shade of brown. There is not any written implication that comic Osborn was originally intended to be an African American character, leaving the ultimate decision for the character's hair choice left as a closed case.
Outside live-action films, Norman's transition to animation and video games have not distanced themselves from his staple wave haircut design. This will continue with Marvel Studios' upcoming Spider-Man Freshman Year animated series for Disney +, which seems to embrace the comic book waves and its implications more than any previous incarnation of the character. Admittedly, the secret behind Green Goblin's hair won't be the end all be all of Spider-Man mythology, but it is a lingering query that has been on the minds of attentive comic book fans for decades.