The Amazing Super-Hero Experience

As ridiculous as it might sound, Peter Parker’s life is a great example of how being a super hero would actually kind of suck.

Parker was just your average nerd, pretty quiet and not so stellar with the ladies – probably your standard first world problems. However after being bitten by a radioactive spider, Parker still has all those everyday problems in addition to: losing his Uncle (as an indirect result of his own selfish actions), not getting killed by bad guys, not accidentally killing the jocks that pick on him, and being permanently tardy/flaky. There’s also the other issue of keeping that whole alter-ego separate. Spider-Man’s credo “with great power comes great responsibility,” is even somewhat deflating. It’s not quite a memento mori, but it is a little humbling. Teenagers, who already feel invincible from time to time, don’t tend to have much willpower. If Parker didn’t have the willpower and morals that he does, the hero could have easily turned into an unstoppable, hedonistic, and hormonal villain.spidermanwanted

Perhaps in addition to all the strength, agility, and other spider-esque superpowers, Parker’s willpower and strong moral fiber were increased to that of a superhuman as well. In fact I think they would have to be. Much of the time, Spider-Man is treated exactly the way any superhero would be in reality – as a vigilante. He will deliver criminals in the characteristic spider’s web, often directly to the police, only to be commanded to freeze or occasionally fired upon. Unfortunately Parker can’t even catch a break in his regular life because no one knows where it is he’s constantly disappearing to. His disappearances combined with his tardiness give off the impression that he is a truly apathetic person or just very forgetful. Not to mention Parker’s only incoming revenue is as a freelance photographer and is completely contingent upon snagging shots of Spider-Man so that his rude boss can slander the superhero in the newspaper The Daily Bugle.

It’s not a life many would choose after walking in the web-slinger’s shoes for a week or two. Whether he’s Spider-Man trying to save Gwen Stacey from the grasp of the Green Goblin or he’s Peter Parker just trying make it to a date or a class on time – he never quits. Peter Parker’s character explores many of the problems superheros face as well as many of the everyday problems which are often exacerbated by the fact that he is secretly Spider-Man. Whether you love or hate him, you can’t deny that he’s quite the juggler.


  1 comment for “The Amazing Super-Hero Experience

  1. April 10, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I’ll agree that Spider-Man’s existence is basically to remind the reader that, yes, being a super-hero is not all glory and roses. This was kind of the idea behind his existence, since Stan Lee wanted to create a super-hero who was burdened by real-world responsibilities and problems.

    However, I wouldn’t really say that Spider-Man is motivated by super-human willpower so much as a guilt complex. That whole “with great power comes great responsibility” shtick came about after his uncle died, and it seems like that’s pretty much his justification for everything. This becomes even more apparent when you look at the points in Peter’s life when he really should have hung up the webs, such as when he got married or when his wife was pregnant, only to resume with little hesitation. Why is that? Because his “creed” is a web-based noose around his neck, and he’ll never get out of it unless he either loses his powers or dies first (Superior Spider-Man notwithstanding).

    I’ll also admit that, yes, Spider-Man definitely could have been a villain. That was definitely intentional on the part of the first few writers, who wanted to keep Spidey’s morality open-ended. In fact, this is why early Spider-Man is generally considered an anti-hero as opposed to a full-blooded hero. And believe me, Spidey did some questionable things in the early days. In his first issue with the Fantastic Four, he pretty much burst into their home, demanded to join them, and when he was turned down Spider-Man’s first response was basically “Fight me!” Things went downhill from there. That, plus Spider-Man’s general trolling of Johnny Storm, makes it kind of hard to believe that Spider-Man and the FF ended up on such good terms.

    But let’s end with the elephant in the room. Peter Parker never really took responsibility for Uncle Ben. He never admitted to letting the crook go. He never revealed his identity. And really, why not? Spider-Man didn’t have any enemies initially. Why not go to the police, maybe help them a la Batman? Personally, I think it’s because deep down he has a selfish need to play vigilante. It isn’t about justice, not entirely. It’s the fantasy, the idea that Spider-Man has power that only he can control. Maybe this has changed, since nowadays Spidey’s loved ones really would be in danger if he revealed himself, but he could have avoided this. He just didn’t.

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