Few people know Kyle Pahl as a student at Michigan State University. Instead, most people know Pahl as his alter-ego: Spartan Spider-Man.
Pahl, 20, attends each men’s basketball game dressed in a Spider-Man Halloween costume with a pair of green and white striped bibs. With roughly 25 games under his belt, Pahl has earned the nickname “Spartan Spider-Man” from social media and fellow students.
The Spider-Man costume was not purchased with the intent of being worn at games though. Rather, it was purchased as a joke Halloween costume in 2021.
“It all started during my engineering class,” he said with a slight smile on his face. “My roommate was sitting next to me, and I was trying to decide what I want to be for Halloween. Well, this Spider-Man movie just came out and so I search around on my phone and bought it. I soon realized it wouldn’t come in time, so I decided to do something with it and started bringing it to games.”
Pahl’s inspiration to wear the costume at games came from an old MSU folk legend dubbed “Cheesehead Dude”. However, Pahl decided to take it one step further by doing everything he possibly can to keep his identity a secret.
After a few games of trying to figure out logistics, Pahl and his friends came up with a system to complete the transition from student to Spartan Spider-Man.
He leaves his apartment 90 minutes before tip-off, making the 20-minute walk from University Edge to the Breslin Center in his regular clothes. He scans through security and makes his way down to the Izzone to find a seat that’d allow for multiple camera appearances.
From there, he patiently waits until it’s time for the starting lineups to be announced. Once the opposing team’s lineup is announced, the lights inside the Breslin Center go dark and members of the Izzone begin to sway. It’s in those two minutes of darkness that Pahl ducks down into the shadows of fellow Izzone members and begins his transformation to Spartan Spider-Man.
Getting rocked from both sides, Pahl pulls the suit over his body and puts on the mask. He’s then assisted by a friend as they zip the back of the suit up. As the lights flicker on, Pahl throws over the straps of his bibs and buckles them in place —thetransition is complete.
Accordingly, Spartan Spider-Man’s mind is focused on three things for the next 40 minutes of basketball: acting like Spider-Man, getting on the jumbotron, and having fun.
Spartan Spider-Man often catches the attention of the Spartan Vision camera crew and can often be seen on the videoboard shooting fake webs from his wrist.
“You have to do the act,” Pahl says.
Pahl’s antics while dressed as Spartan Spider-Man has an impact on not only those nearby, but anyone who encounters him or sees him.
“It makes it more fun,” said MSU student Alyvia Suchy. “Last week there was two Spider-Men, and they did a duel between them.”
Standing next to Suchy, friend Brenna Gordon agreed.
“It keeps it light and fun,” she said.
For Pahl, some of his favorite moments as Spartan Spider-Man aren’t even during the game. Instead, they’re on the walk back to his apartment.
“It’s walking home and seeing little kids go, ‘Oh my god, is that Spider-Man?’” he said. “I’m just like, ‘It’s not, but I’ll act like it.’”
When Pahl is not playing the role of Spartan Spider-Man, he can be found in the gym working out or doing homework in his room. Majoring in mechanical engineering, Pahl spends most of week nights in his room with a single lamp on, grinding out tedious coursework.
As the interview began to wind down, Pahl began to reflect on some of his memorable moments during his time as Spartan Spider-Man.
“The first time I wore it, I didn’t know how to act,” he said. “The cameras were on me for a good 20 seconds, so I just started running up and down the aisles. They wouldn’t get off me, so I kept doing it. I even slid down the rail once or twice.”
Pahl wants Spartan Spider-Man to not only be remembered when he graduates but to be viewed as a life lesson for everyone.
“It can teach them about not being embarrassed and having courage,” he said. “To not take life too serious.”