Curiosity could kill the cat. Or turn you in Spider-Man. If you have the right DNA. Because technically that’s how Peter Parker survived the radioactive spider’s bite. Thanks to Daddy dearest. Oops spoiler alert. I recently watched the Amazing Spider-Man 2 and like most of the people who have, I am still reeling from the plot’s whiplash effect which fortunately didn’t kill me like it did Gwen Stacy. I just did it again didn’t I?
Spider-Man has always been my favourite superhero. Along with Spidey, I was introduced to Batman and Superman as a kid and more superheroes in my teen and tween years but Spider-Man always “stuck” as the one who “bit” me first. Probably the “flying” factor. That was what I though Spider-Man did as a kid. In passing years I realized it was way more complicated than that and the flying I associated him with was actually swinging. You could argue with me saying that a lot of superheroes do actually fly so why him? Well maybe because he always looks like he’s having a good time doing it. When he swings baby, he got the moves like Jagger.
We have all been in Spider-Man’s shoes at one point of time. Some of us more literally than others coz they have these things called “costumes” now. Oh you may diss the Spandex all you like but I know what you wore last Halloween. It will be wrong to say that Spider-Man is loved more because he is the most human of all superheroes. Most of our beloved superheroes have established that they are more than human enough. You don’t put your life on the line and don the role of vigilante trying to save cities if you aren’t more human than others. But what Spider-Man manages to establish more than other superheroes is the underdog connection. He knows what its like to be us. And we know what its like to be him. His empathy for the common man is unusually high. Peter Parker a.k.a Spider-Man is the epitome of the common man.
Pete is an orphan. Pete is the skinny kid AND the high school geek making him the perfect victim of the high school bully. We have all heard of Flash Thompson haven’t we? Pete is socially awkward, the one who makes a fool out of himself in almost every social situation, owing to which his self esteem is pretty low. Aye he spent most of the first movie looking more at his shoes than at Gwen Stacy. Pete’s uncle gets shot and he loses the closest thing he has to a father. Pete has to support his Aunt May and become the man of the house. Pete is struggling to make ends meet and hold it together. He is no Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark. He has no golden spoon or key to a big empire. Pete also sucks at doing laundry, though he gets better with it later on. Pete has a crush on Gwen. Better still Gwen’s in love with him too. Unluckily for him though, Gwen’s cop daddy DOES NOT love him. Pete doesn’t have a lot of friends, okay he virtually has none. The one friend he does have turns out to be crazy. Yes Harry Osborn you heard me, you’re a bloody idiot. Pete goes through the pangs of breakup. Gwen Stacy dies. Pete now has no best friend and no girlfriend. Pete faces rejection in the job market. Pete finally lands a job as a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle-the lowest paid job in the lowest paid industry. So yes Pete is paid peanuts. Pete’s boss hates him and constantly undermines his work. Lucky for Pete he has a great sense of humour and is on a sarcasm-high 24/7. Without his Spidey powers Peter Parker is just like us.
As Spider-Man, you’d think his life would be better. In some ways it does get better. Pete finally owns his Spidey powers-which are awesome by the way. He becomes more self aware, more confident and more sure of himself. On the other hand, being Spider-Man means living two lives. He has to lie to the people he loves to protect them. It is exhausting and it takes a toll on him. He is loved and hated in equal measure by the masses. Since he isn’t big on earning bucks he designs his own costume and web-shooters by hand using moderate means, depending more on his exceptional skills as a scientist, engineer and inventor. His intelligence and knowledge of science has saved him from many a sticky situation.
Every time Spider-Man narrowly escapes death you’ll hear me whispering to myself or yelling as the occasion demands it “Thank God, he’s a science student!” Not to mention owning a name and identity like Spider-Man makes all your enemies want to squish you like a bug.
So no it’s not easy being Spider-Man, but someone’s gotta do it. Because with great power comes great responsibility. In his role as Spider-Man, Spidey tries to save not just his victims, but the villains as well, trying time and again to remind them of their humanity. In the masses he instills hope again and again and again, mostly among the oppressed sections of society, women and children. He constantly reminds society that he is one of them. Who are you? people ask him. “I’m your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!” he replies.
Spider-Man is not only the underdog with reference to the common man but by normal superhero standards, he is also the underdog superhero. No matter what life throws at him, no matter how many times he falls, he picks himself up and chooses to rise as Spider-Man. Every single time. That’s what makes him Amazing.
He chooses to show us there’s a lot that an itsy bitsy Spider could do.
Which is why Spider-Man will always be a true MARVEL to the senses.