Still Manic Over Spider-Man: A Study of Spider-Man… and Peter Parker

spiderman-peterparkerIf you don’t (or if you say you don’t) love Spider-Man – and at the same time you are not a villain in any of his stories – shut up.  You’re stupid.  Get out.  A hero is a very complex character and Spider-Man is the best because he is the hero without problems.  He has no “Achilles’ Heel,” no Kryptonite.  Heroes have secret identities.  There are reasons for their masks.  But this is the point: Spider-Man and Peter Parker are different people.  Spider-Man’s success as a hero – furthermore, a personable hero – is rooted in this fact and, more specifically, in Peter Parker’s photography.

Spider-Man is actually pretty awesome.  The expression of such does not stem solely from his abilities. His demeanor shows just as much.  The strength he has, his reflexes, and “Spidey-Sense” are amazing on their own but paired with his youth, intellect, and humor each attribute is elevated to a place only Spider-Man inhabits.  Along with that is his suit.  The colors are loud.  They proudly yell “America” in the way only an American knows how.  Basically Spider-Man’s life entails saving the day and swinging around looking for pie.

Peter Parker is the other guy.  He has family stuff, school stuff, girl stuff… all kinds of stuff.  He’s just a regular kid, out of high school with a job taking pictures of Spider-Man and he’s good.  But because he is a person he is subject to all kinds of emotions which broadens the Spider-Man story palette.  Parker is the bridge.  Without him, Spider-Man wouldn’t exist as strongly because he spends more time taking care of New York than he spends taking pictures.

There are two people documenting Spider-Man’s exploits through film: Spider-Man and Peter Parker.  Spidey’s pictures of himself are a chronicling of his personal life for his personal scrapbook.  Because that’s the kind of guy he is.  His pictures are not for personal gain.  They are to be revisited once he has finished his journey as a hero.  Peter Parker however needs to take pictures of Spider-Man.  For Peter it’s his job to take quality pictures of Spider-Man.  He gets paid to do it.  But if he didn’t, Spider-Man would just be another guy in a mask.  As a photographer, Peter creates a foundation one can use to build a close relationship with Spider-Man.  The pictures tell Spider-Man’s story and create a familiar closeness.  The stuff that gets published is really good work and Peter has to try really hard to get all those shots and angles.  His work is greatly underappreciated.

Newspapers are a tricky thing.  They often aim for impartiality and certain distance from bias (or at least attempt to) but there is usually someone who molds the business to her or his personal style.  The pictures (of Spider-Man) are fantastic but the headlines are those things that create controversy.  Mr. Jameson’s part in all this is to create that rift in people.  He gives New York some doubt to combat the seemingly perfect Spider-Man.

There are no identity issues in these stories.  Spider-Man is Spider-Man.  Peter Parker is Peter Parker.  Characters in this world don’t struggle with themselves which creates an attractiveness not previously known.  The struggles in these stories are with the events that present themselves in each character’s life.  Peter Parker doesn’t go running along rooftops or fighting angry villains.  He does nerd stuff and takes pictures.  Spider-Man is the hero and takes care of all the hero stuff.  He just happens to like spandex and masks, too.  Plus, no one would believe that his buddy, Peter, is anywhere his vicinity of cool.  And because everyone in the audience is aware of whom each character is: there are no doubts nor is anyone questioning whether or not they like a specific character.

Heroes like Thor, Captain America, Batman, and Superman are adamantly segregated from normality.  Iron Man and Tony Stark are really the only names that are interchangeable among SuperHeroes in part because of Stark’s ego, but also because the suit is an extension of the character.  The suit is the hero side-by-side (or closer) with Tony Stark.  Spider-Man is different.  He is an active member of society; an absolutely loved hero.  If he had a home address he would vote and pay taxes.  All Spidey is is another New Yorker.  He just has superpowers too.

You can’t not love Spider-Man.  He’s the hero the audience wants.


  1. J.K. Reply

    I remember how in one of the old 60’s comics, Spider-Man fights the Sandman and after he beats him he realizes he needs pictures, so he takes a bag of sand and throws it in the air and then takes pictures of him punching the sand. Good stuff. Thanks for the post, of course everyone loves Spidey!

  2. Casey Moriarty Reply

    I love Spider-Man and think he’s a particularly brilliant concept for a superhero. Unfortunately he always seems to end up in the hands of the most godawful writers, and we get things like the “Clone Saga,” “One More Day,” and “Spider-Man 3.” It is for this reason I refuse to pay money to see “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Their track record is just too shitty. Avi Arad in particular needs to be exterminated.

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