Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Characters We Love: Peter Parker/Spider-Man

By Jim Scroggs
August 10, 2016


On August 10, 1962, Amazing Fantasy #15 was published, and with it came the world debut of a typical kid from Queens: Peter Parker; but you probably know him as Spider-Man. Arguably one of the most influential fictional characters in the last 50 years, Peter has shown that you can be a normal person and a superhero, if you get bitten by a radioactive spider of course.  Raised by his Aunt and Uncle after his parents had died, Peter was a nerdy but brilliant student at Midtown High School and certainly wasn’t immune to being a social outcast among the student body. His life wasn’t anything to write home about and he certainly wasn’t blessed with the best luck in the world but he didn’t let that bother him, which is a very endearing trait.

His life was turned upside down when on a trip to a science museum, he was bitten by a radioactive spider that was used in that demonstration. On his way home, he discovered his new abilties after jumping out of the way of an oncoming car. After testing his new abilties out during a wrestling match,  he was discovered by a TV producer and Spider-Man was born. His ego got the best of him, however after encountering a thief that he easily could have stopped but didn’t because he didnt think it was his responsibiltiy. That one selfish act caused the thief to get away and was the very man who killed his Uncle Ben.

We’ve seen 3 very different versions of this iconic character on the big screen with the latest coming in Captain America: Civil War. Each actor has played him differently but the most common thing between them is that the spirit of the character hasn’t changed.

Why we love him:

1. Tobey Maguire’s performance was the first real attempt to show how amazing this icon could be. In his 3 movies,  he truly was a life saver for numerous characters. From Aunt May to Mary Jane and even the smaller role of Gwen Stacy, he put his life on the line to save those in need because it was the right thing to do. A moment that I always loved was when Peter caught the side of a warehouse from falling on Mary Jane and that’s when his secret was exposed. He saved the woman he loved and nothing else mattered in that moment than getting her to safety, even putting his body and life on the line.

2. Andrew Garfield’s interpretation of the character was short lived but still effective and certainly a more modern version of the web slinger. In those 2 films, he was focused on finding out more about his father and what happened to his parents. This past July has marked 30 years since I lost my father to cancer and yes, Peter was older than I was when his parents died but I’ve probably asked my mom the same question about my father over and over. I want to know more about him, regardless of how old I get and in some respects, I’ll probably always be that child like figure when I talk or think about him.

3. Tom Holland’s short but certainly effective version of Peter/SpiderMan in Captain America:Civil War has been raved about and I think it fits well into the discussion of anonymity. When we first see Peter meeting Tony Stark, he’s confused, timid and even scared when he’s confronted about his alter ego. When he’s fighting with the rest of the Avengers, He’s funny and more outgoing with a hint of nervous energy that we all get when the adrenaline kicks in. When our face is covered and nobody really knows it’s us, there’s a little bit of freedom and our true personality can come out which is very freeing in a way.

         4. We all know Peter wasn’t the most popular kid and kept to himself at times. I believe I was pretty close to being the poster child for the “New Kid” because I was in a different school building from 2nd to 8th grade and that was a combination of moving to a new town, school redistricting and moving on from elementary to middle school so the socially inept side of him is why he is so relatable. We've all had those moments of vulnerability and regardless of age, it's important to have the optimism and perspective to laugh at life in it's face when it gets to us. That’s what Peter does and that’s why he’s a character we love.

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