The Most Human Superhero: Spider-Man

The Most Human Superhero: Spider-Man

For over fifty years, we have been following the adventures of the Amazing Spider-Man - so what makes us keep coming back?

Sony/Marvel Studios/Disney

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the third film incarnation of the friendly neighborhood webslinger in under ten years - the film itself being a sequel to Captain America: Civil War. Despite these movies, the countless TV shows, video games, toys, and comics, it is obvious that the audience hasn't grown tired of Spider-Man. And why would they? He’s not a perfect hero, he makes mistakes, people don't always trust him - we can see some of ourselves in the character.

His love life isn't perfect when compared to other heroes, and it only helps to make him seem more “everyman.” Starting with his high school crushes - Liz Allen, etc, Peter Parker isn't smooth like Tony Stark. He’s shy, socially awkward, and, as said in the first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15, “Midtown High’s only professional wallflower.” It should be noted that thanks to a retcon in Alias, Jessica Jones had a crush on Peter when they were in school. Even when Peter later dated Gwen Stacy and future fiance Mary Jane Watson,he wasn't always the best boyfriend - he is the Amazing Spider-Man, and just because it’s date night doesn't mean crime stops. Yet despite this, he is still deeply in love with Mary Jane and will do anything to be with her. That's something we all can relate to. One of his driving forces is love, and he’s done everything possible to keep his personal life safe from harm.

Mistakes have been made, and those stick with him. His origin is based on this, wherein he lets a criminal go free after a wrestling match. The unnamed criminal goes on to kill Peter’s Uncle Ben in a carjacking, causing Peter to use his powers for good and not for personal gain. This comes up for Peter quite often, knowing that he has to be the hero to prevent another death like that of his uncle (very much like Batman.) The famous Death of Gwen Stacy story involves Green Goblin dropping Gwen from the George Washington Bridge, and as Spider-Man slings a web line to catch her, the sudden stop snaps her neck. This unexpected death becomes a driving force of the character for several issues, and often is brought up even now - such as when the mainstream “616” Spider-Man met the alternate universe Spider-Woman/Gwen Stacy. With every mistake and error he makes, it only helps Peter grow and become a better hero. He learns from them, much like we do. These follow him, make him into the man he is. And with every one, he is determined not to let it happen again.

The mantra of Spider-Man is one that has become one of the most iconic lines in literature - “with great power comes great responsibility.” As this is motivates Peter to be the hero New York needs, it also gives a message to the reader. Throughout the fifty-plus years of the character’s publication, this six word phrase comes up again and again - always there to remind us to do good. Currently, Peter Parker is running a company, yet he hasn't stopped being Spider-Man. These words echo in his head, reminding him that he is more than just a guy in a costume. He is a hero to many, and he owes it to the people to keep them safe. His "great responsibility" comes from a desire to do good with his life, which is a desire of many. This sentence, first used in the very first appearance, is a staple of the comic book genre, and even the Supreme Court has cited it in their rulings. Power is always nice, but one must use that for good and for the betterment of mankind, not for themselves like so many do.

Spider-Man is one of the rare superheroes that we all can connect to in some way. He isn't perfect like Superman, nor is he as confident as Iron Man. He is the average guy, with all the problems life brings. Peter Parker stands out as someone who doesn't really fit the usual “superhero stereotype,” but that's what makes him a good character. He fights for what he belives in, and keeps the knowledge of his past mistakes as a guiding light. We all can see something to relate to in Spider-Man, and the next generation will as well. I mean, come on - they’ll be on the twenty-third reboot by then.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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