‘Comic Book Crack For Generations’: Why Spider-Man Still Has Us All On His Web | Movies

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NOTnot a spider – and not a man – but the most powerful teenager in pop culture history. Spider-Man is the lonely and sensitive teenage underdog whose high school miseries and humiliations, combined with his secret superheroic triumphs, have been comic book crack to generations of fascinated fans and a gateway drug to the world. Marvel world itself.

He first appeared in Marvel Comics almost 60 years ago: orphaned science prodigy Peter Parker, bitten by a radioactive spider during an educational exhibit. (Like Godzilla, Spider-Man is a product of the Nuclear Age.) He acquires proportional strength of a spider, a prickly “spider sense” for danger, and the ability to climb walls. He designs his own skin-tight web pattern costume and web shooting wrist mods and becomes a superhero, fighting people like the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. But he’s somehow unable to reveal his secret to his high school crush Mary Jane Watson and, as the humble Parker, gets bullied by high school jock Flash Thompson who, ironically, worships Spider-Man. So Spider-Man’s victories coexist with desperation and depression: he fails to save his uncle Ben, who was killed by a street criminal, and his entire superhero career is driven by this primitive scene of failure. and guilt – a rosebud of misery.

Spider-Man is the Harry Potter arachnid (or is it more true to say that Potter is the humanoid Spidey?) In these times of trouble, it seems like we wanted the established favorite: Spider-Man, in his wacky outfit. , defying the laws of physics to swing through the big city on its super sturdy canvas. Sometimes he’s a high school kid, sometimes he’s a college student, or older, but he always resets and reboots to his real teenage self.

Spider-Man was invented by Stan Lee in 1962 to speak to Marvel’s burgeoning new readership and first introduced to British fans with the UK’s Spider-Man Comics Weekly in 1973, derived from The Mighty World of Marvel. For 40 years, Spider-Man has been a big brand favorite, with spinoffs for television and video games. But in the new century, the movies took the Spider-Man legend to the next level: a trio of films from director Sam Raimi with sleepy-eyed Tobey Maguire in the title role, culminating in a much hated trio, Spider-Man 3. , in which Maguire, 32, was visibly too old. Then there were the two reboot films, starring the smart, goofy, and more emotionally available Andrew Garfield – but Garfield was going to become disillusioned with the difficulty of portraying a corporate icon. And then another Briton, young Tom Holland, became a hit as Spider-Man as the hero joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One animation, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, was incredibly witty and surreal.

Spider-Man launched his first canvas in 1962. Photograph: Heritage Auctions / HA.com

Why are billions of people so addicted to Spider-Man? Part of it is his superb and superbly illogical solution to the superheroic problem of theft. Superman can fly; Batman can’t (to use two examples from the rival DC Comics franchise), but Spider-Man has sort of split the difference. Pulling his heavy-duty canvas jets that hyper-tackily crash into buildings, Spidey can sway like Tarzan over sidewalks. But wait. In reality, this would require a horizontal surface above (or possibly a flag pole); Simply attaching the canvas to a vertical surface such as a wall means that Spidey would hit the floor or wall before the slowdown phase was over. It doesn’t make sense, which is why Spider-Man can only exist on the page or screen. When a spectacular Broadway stage musical called Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark was unveiled in 2010, featuring ghastly musical numbers from U2’s Bono and the Edge, it was an unspeakable disaster – at least in part because the “fly / swing” scenes were so terrible. At one point, Spider-Man flew above the audience towards the balcony and a wire malfunction caused him to just stop (like the famous picture of Boris Johnson with his union shots) and hung deadly. The real world exposes the absurdity of Spider-Man’s gravity challenge.

An illogical solution to theft… Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark.
An illogical solution to theft … Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Photography: Advertising image for the theater company

Then there’s this web-based shooting technology itself. Is it all in the action of the wrist? He has exerted a terrible and inexplicable fascination with young male Spidey fans for the past 60 years. Poor lonely Peter Parker, deeply unlucky in love, obsessed with a certain young woman, but now endowed with the ability to shoot jets of sticky stuff using a controlled, twitching motion of his wrist. Once you see the psychological subtext of Spider-Man’s webslinger heroism, it can’t be invisible. And in fact, part of the fascination with Spider-Man’s superpowers is that they sort of look like histrionic expansions or dramatizations of his existing weaknesses.

And then of course there is also the question of identity, this question which has a new relevance. Shy and cerebral, Peter Parker is intimidated by someone at school who idolizes Spider-Man. And also Peter Parker earns a few bucks selling photos of Spider-Man in action to irascible newspaper editor J Jonah Jameson (who in later films would turn out to be a horrific shock figure of Alex Jones) and that media freak. hates Spider-Man; is Spider-Man-phobe in fact. Some movies deal with whether Spider-Man should “come out” as a superhero or keep his double life a secret. This too has resonated with armies of young people around the world. Spider-Man continues to have an audience wrapped in its sticky web.

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