*Spoilers for NWH*
“With great power, comes great responsibility”. That was the epitome of an iconic line for any comic book lover and soon for film lovers of the titular character. When you think of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and his origin story it’s just as Iconic if not more so, than Bruce Wayne’s family being murdered over and over again for the sake of it. We associate the character with that line and use it to define who he is. The character is much more than a line. As of this article, the top three comic book characters are Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. Spider-Man and Superman going back and forth in the top two spots. How does a kid from queens top the reigns of the all-mighty like Superman and Batman? Well, it’s not that simple.
Spider-Man or as everyone else knows him, Peter Parker was just a boy from Queens who lived with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May after Peter’s parents had passed (Or in The Amazing Spider-Man’s case faking their deaths so the dad can become a super spy). Then was bit by the iconic radioactive spider. You know the rest, but how does this teenage boy from queens connect to all of us in ways that obviously no other characters have? I mean, not all of us live in queens, NYC, we don’t swing our cities dressed as a spider. So, what makes the true meaning of Spider-Man?
While all of us can’t relate to being a Spider, while some of us can partially relate to the life of growing up in New York City. What really connects the audience to this character that proves to still be the biggest bond audiences has with a fictional character to this date with Spider-Man: No Way Home, breaking all types of Box Office records and the call for Tobey Maguire’s fourth solo outing and Andrew Garfield’s third outing in their own respective universe, shows this character not stopping anytime soon.
We can relate to Peter. We all felt the abandonment of an important figure in our lives at a young age at some point. Whether it’s a parent, a friend, or a grandparent we can all relate to being left there to wonder, why? Peter never used his parent’s death as a way to become a more brutal and nonempathetic Spider-Man he used that, on top of the love from Aunt May and Uncle Ben (even using Ben’s death) as his driving force to be good. Peter Parker/Spider-Man is the character that always tries his best to move forward even at his own cost. And, that’s the reoccurring theme throughout all three renditions of Spider-Man. For Maguire, it was losing his Powers in Spider-Man 2, for Garfield it was not being able to save the love of his life and “failing” people when he became bitter and last but not least it’s Peter giving up his entire life to keep the people he loves safe. We all have at the very least the one person you would never want to be hurt, and we would do anything to make sure of that. That is what makes Spider-Man, well, Spider-Man. Not a quote, not his superpowers, and not his witty quips. It’s the everyday struggle that we have all felt as a teenager, trying to survive high school, all the while dealing with family and out-of-school problems with girls and the daily struggles of life. We can relate to doing our best to do what’s right, but never truly succeeding because your morals are what differs him from any other hero.
The ending of No Way Home is the best example of being able to recognize when people know who you are, and the effect it truly has on their lives. The ending when Peter goes to try and reintroduce himself to Michelle Jones, he notices the cut on her head from the Statue of Liberty fight, realizing the consequences them knowing, his identity can cause. So he gives her up (for the meantime) and his best friend Ned, knowing they will live better lives. That’s who Spider-Man is and that is why I truly believe he is the best and most relatable character to be written.