Wednesday, April 17, 2024
HomeEntertainment60 Years of Spider-Man: A Superhero Unlike Any Other

60 Years of Spider-Man: A Superhero Unlike Any Other

- advertisement -

Spider-Man was introduced to the world in June 1962, when the Marvel comic “Amazing Fantasy #15” was released. 60 years later, his name has spawned a massive media franchise that includes multiple blockbuster movies, several cartoons, a successful video game series and multiple best-selling comics. Spider-Man has helped to launch the careers of many famous creators, including comic book writers Brian Michael Bendis and Todd McFarlane, as well as creator Stan Lee. 

Spider-Man was initially created by Lee from a desire for a subversion of the typical superhero. While most superheroes of the era were adults who found their powers that brought them fame, such as Superman or Batman, Spider-Man was a teenager who found that his powers gave him problems. While some, such as Lee’s publisher Martin Goodman, thought that this approach would not work because of its unconventional nature, it seems to have succeeded for precisely this reason, as his tale of a hero with an ordinary person’s problems has resonated with people all over the world.

Spider-Man’s origin story is as follows: nerdy, awkward Peter Parker lives with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. One day, on a trip to a local science exhibit, he is bitten by a radioactive spider, which gives him its proportionate speed and strength. He uses this newfound power to fight a wrestler for money but refuses to stop a thief soon after. The thief eventually kills his Uncle Ben, who gives him the lesson that “with great power, comes great responsibility.”

Photo provided by Marvel.com

Spider-Man is known for his memorable supporting cast. These include his bully-turned-ally Flash Thompson; J. Jonah Jameson, a newspaper publisher who considers Spider-Man to be a menace but hires Peter as a photographer anyway; and Mary Jane Watson, Peter’s supportive, independent girlfriend. 

The character is also known for his memorable villains, including the Green Goblin, Peter’s best friend’s father, who turned insane through a secret formula; Doctor Octopus, a scientist with multiple mechanical arms attached to his body; and Venom, an alien symbiote who bonded to a reporter, granting him powers similar to Spider-Man. In particular, the Spider-Man villain the Punisher, a vigilante seeking revenge for his family’s death, became so popular that he spun off into his own comic.

In addition to Peter, there are many other versions of Spider-Man. They include Takuya Yamashiro, a Japanese motocross racer who got his powers from an alien and has the ability to summon a giant robot; Miles Morales, an Afro-Latino kid who took up the identity after his universe’s incarnation of Peter died; and Gwen Stacy, one of Peter’s other love interests who got her powers after she was bitten by a radioactive spider instead of Peter in an alternate continuity.

Photo provided by NDTV.com

In addition to comics, Spider-Man is also known for his appearances in various media adaptations. TV shows, cartoons and video games have made the character famous even to people who do not read comics. But most of the general public knows of Spider-Man through his movie adaptations. Through the portrayals of Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland, Spider-Man came to life on the big screen and has lived in fans’ hearts ever since. 

The three actors each put their own spin on the role, portraying Spider-Man in different ways. Maguire’s Peter Parker stays true to the origins of Spider-Man — a lonely teenager struggling with his newfound powers — and his performance in “Spider-Man 3” birthed the famous “Bully Maguire” meme that is still well-loved to this day. He’s socially inept, plus a little awkward and dorky, but he’s good-natured and develops a strong sense of responsibility. Garfield’s Spider-Man is snarky and sarcastic with a witty sense of humor; his romance with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is heartwarming yet bittersweet, considering how their relationship ends. Holland creates a memorable Spider-Man through his character’s involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with his notable “father-son” relationship with Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and his exchanges with Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). The three Spider-Men came together in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” creating history for superhero movies and setting several box-office records. 

Photo provided by EpicStream

Looking to get into Spider-Man comics? Try the Ultimate Spiderman series. This line of comics modernizes the character’s origin story. For instance, Peter was bitten by a genetically modified spider in this version. It also speeds up the plotline, with Venom appearing after only 33 issues, not 301, and modifies plotlines that appeared in the original comic, like the “Clone Saga.” The series can be found in trade paperbacks, which are compilations of comic books, usually consisting of a single storyline or related issues. 

Spider-Man has dominated the mediums of comics and film for a long time. With his relatable personality and memorable cast, it seems like he will continue to gain popularity into the far future.

Bailey Kanthatham is an Entertainment Contributing Writer. He can be reached at bkanthat@uci.edu.

Grace Tu is an Entertainment Staff Writer. She can be reached at tug2@uci.edu.