Spider-Man: Who is Your Friendly Neighborhood Superhero?

Look out! Here comes the Spider-Man

Wealth and fame? He’s ignored
Action is his reward
To him, life is a great big bang-up
Wherever there’s a hang-up
You’ll find the Spider-Man!

Spider-Man (1967)

A mob boss is studying blueprints. He has a foolproof plan for a bank robbery. He barks orders into an intercom, but one of his lieutenants doesn’t respond. A panicked scream is heard from somewhere else. The gangster rushes from his office with a gun and sees several henchmen stuck to a wall with webbing.

Insults are heard from the dark rafters. He fires, but the snark continues. He keeps shooting where the sound is, but that mocking voice just won’t shut up! Something taps him on the shoulder. The boss whirls and pulls the trigger. (CLICK) He’s out of ammo. Spider-Man chuckles and knocks him unconscious.

Spider-Man is Marvel’s most popular superhero. He’s worked with every other hero, fought every villain and is still quick with the quips after sixty years. So who is he? What powers does he have? Let’s find out.

Second Chance Superhero: Spider-Man’s Backstory

Peter:My fault… all my fault! If only I had stopped him when I could have! But I didn’t… and now… Uncle Ben is dead.
Narrator:And a lean, silent figure slowly fades into the gathering darkness, aware at last that in this world, with great power, there must also come great responsibility! And so a legend is born and a name is added to the roster of those who make the world of fantasy the most exciting realm of all!

Amazing Fantasy #15

Spider-Man debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962. He was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Lee struggled to get the story published because publisher Martin Goodman thought readers didn’t like spiders and that teenagers should only be sidekicks. He agreed to let them add the character into their dying Amazing Fantasy series, and the rest is history. 

Nerdy teenager Peter Parker was living with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben when he was bitten by a radioactive spider. The bite gave him superpowers, which Peter planned to use to become rich and famous.

Peter created his costumed alter ego Spider-Man and appeared on television to become a star. The station owner stiffed him on his paycheck. Moments later, a thief robbed the station and ran past Peter, who arrogantly thought it was only fair. Returning home, he learned that Uncle Ben had been killed by a burglar.

Spider-Man cornered the killer in a warehouse and was horrified to see that it was the thief he let go. Peter swore to use his powers for good and became a superhero. He also became a photographer for The Daily Bugle to help support his elderly, financially struggling aunt.

Marvel Team-Up: Spider-Man’s History

Peter: Who are they?
The One-Above-All:They’re an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny sampling of the thousands upon thousands of people you’ve saved as Spider-Man over the years. Parents, children, grandparents, entire families…
Peter:Thousands upon thousands? Really?
One-Above All:Well, I’m counting team-ups, but… yeah. At least.

Sensational Spider-Man #40 (2006)

In the first issue of his own series, Spider-Man began a long career of team-ups by trying to join the Fantastic Four. He gave that up when he learned their heroics were unpaid. Spidey has since fought alongside the Avengers, the X-Men, and every other Marvel hero you could name. He even got to hang out with The One-Above-All, Marvel’s version of God.

When not swinging around, Peter struggled to balance his work and social lives. Turns out having to run off to save the day makes you seem unreliable, who knew? He eventually found love with his supermodel next-door-neighbor, Mary Jane Watson.

Things rarely stay quiet in Spider-Man’s life. He’s sprouted six arms while trying to remove his powers, endured the mind-bending Clone Saga, met his long-lost sister, and even came back to life after being murdered by a villain named Morlun.

Spider-Man revealed his secret identity to the world during the Superhuman Civil War to support Iron Man’s side. Unfortunately, this led to Aunt May being shot by an assassin who missed Peter. The superhero community was unable to heal her, which left Peter a ripe target for the demon Mephisto. He healed May in exchange for Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage and exploited the deal to retcon large swaths of history.

Into the Spider-Verse: Spider-Man’s Modern Stories 

Peter: “Where’s that wind coming from? We’re in a basement.
Spider-Man Noir: “Wherever I go, the wind follows. And the wind, it smells like rain.
Peni ParkerHi, guys! [jumps off of her robot] Konichiwa! Hajimemashite yoroshiku!
Peter:This could literally not get any weirder.
Spider-Ham: [comes out of the shadows] “It can get weirder!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man’s life somehow got weirder after the demonic divorce. Readers learned that his powers are magical in addition to scientific and that there is an entire Spider-mythology. Peter ignores this as much as he can, but other web swingers have delved into their magical side.

If magic’s not enough for you, let’s bring in the multiverse! Morlun’s extended family, The Inheritors, gained the ability to travel to other universes and began killing Spider-heros to grow stronger. Peter has led two wars against The Inheritors and met dozens of his variants.

Peter was recently forced to retire so he could heal from a fight. His estranged clone, Ben Reilly, took over as the web swinger to give him time to heal and has accepted a sponsorship deal with a mega-corporation called Beyond. Time will tell how that turns out.

Does Whatever a Spider Can: Spider-Man’s Powers and Personality

Ms. Marvel: [facing down a monster] “Uh… you don’t scare us! We can still take you! [aside] Right, Spidey? This is your specialty… right?””
Spider-Man:What, in over my head and totally outclassed? Yeah… it kinda is.

Amazing Spider-Man #7 (2014)

Spider-Man may be Marvel’s most versatile hero. He’s super strong, agile, durable, can stick to walls, and is a genius. He created web-shooters that can immobilize any foe and let him swing across buildings. Spidey is a self-taught street fighter who has studied martial arts under several heroes, even developing a unique style with Shang-Chi’s help.

Not much can surprise Peter when his Spider-Sense is tingling. What began as a warning that he was in danger has evolved. Readers learned that Spider-Sense is a connection to “The Web of Life and Destiny”, which is pretty much The Force from Star Wars. Y’know, since Disney owns both, there really isn’t a good reason why Peter can’t make a light saber and become Spider-Jedi.

He may act goofy, but no one wants to mess with Spider-Man when he gets serious. Endangering his loved ones will make him focus silently and entirely on tearing the threat apart. A quiet Spider-Man once fought Firelord, a villain that Thor struggles to defeat. Captain America had to pull Peter from Firelord and point out that he was already unconscious before the hero stopped fighting.

Spider-Man is one of the focal points of the superhero community and often considered its moral compass when Captain America isn’t around. He is hard on himself and struggles with guilt for everyone he’s ever hurt. He masks the guilt and fear of his enemies by constantly quipping.

The Actors Who Play The Hero

Like with Superman, there are too many actors to list them all. Here are the best portrayals.

Paul Soles – Spider-Man (1966)
Christopher Daniel Barnes – Spider-Man the Animated Series
Josh Keaton – The Spectacular Spider-Man
Drake Bell – Avengers Assemble, Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
Nicholas Hammond – Spider-Man, Spider-Man Strikes Back, Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge 
Shinji Tōdō – Japanese Spider-Man
Toby Maguire – Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3
Andrew Garfield – The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 
Tom Holland – Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spider-Man: No Way Home (with Maguire and Garfield), others

Didya Get All That?

From great power and responsibility comes a great hero

Image: Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME. Photo Credit : Matt Kennedy. ©2021 CTMG. All Rights Reserved. MARVEL and all related character names: © & ™ 2021 MARVEL

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