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  1. #1
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    Default Thread Drift: Was Spider-Man (kind of) Marvel's answer to Superman?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpiderClops View Post
    Uh, no he wasn't. I have never seen anybody say this.
    Uh, yes, Spider-Man is very consciously Marvel's answer to Superman... read The Untold Story of Marvel or any of the in-depth looks at the early Marvel creative whirlwind. It didn't happen in a vacuum. They were very consciously looking to enter the superhero market based on DC success -- and saw their role as taking superhero archetypes and putting a modernist spin on them. The Avengers is a rewrite of Justice League, Spider-Man is a rewrite of Superman... obviously it's not all 1:1 but there are some clear parallels.

    "B-but... Superman is from another planet but Spider-Man is a spider bite! And Superman lives in Metropolis but Spider-Man is in New York!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregpersons View Post
    Uh, yes, Spider-Man is very consciously Marvel's answer to Superman... read The Untold Story of Marvel or any of the in-depth looks at the early Marvel creative whirlwind. It didn't happen in a vacuum. They were very consciously looking to enter the superhero market based on DC success -- and saw their role as taking superhero archetypes and putting a modernist spin on them. The Avengers is a rewrite of Justice League, Spider-Man is a rewrite of Superman... obviously it's not all 1:1 but there are some clear parallels.
    Spider-Man was not Marvel's answer to Superman.

    Please supply specific quotes if you want to prove otherwise.

    Was Marvel responding to DC's success in superheroes? Yes.

    But it was the Fantastic Four - not The Avengers - that was created as an answer to The Justice League of America.

    Noting that JLA was a strong seller, Marvel publisher Martin Goodman directed Stan to develop a book with their own team of heroes. The result of that was the FF.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregpersons View Post
    Uh, yes, Spider-Man is very consciously Marvel's answer to Superman... read The Untold Story of Marvel or any of the in-depth looks at the early Marvel creative whirlwind. It didn't happen in a vacuum. They were very consciously looking to enter the superhero market based on DC success -- and saw their role as taking superhero archetypes and putting a modernist spin on them. The Avengers is a rewrite of Justice League, Spider-Man is a rewrite of Superman... obviously it's not all 1:1 but there are some clear parallels.

    "B-but... Superman is from another planet but Spider-Man is a spider bite! And Superman lives in Metropolis but Spider-Man is in New York!"
    Their personalities are completely different, their powers are completely different, Superman is larger than life ultra powerful, Spidey is street level, Supes is loved by public in-universe, Spidey's reputation is shaky at the best of times, Supes is an adult, Spidey was conceived as a teenager and is still written to be a on the younger side, Supes acts like a dork, Spidey is a dork.

    Sure, very similar.

    If Avengers was rewrite of Justice League then it would include Spidey, FF and X-Men as consistent members. They have nothing in common other than being the biggest superhero team in their universe.
    “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”
    -Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpiderClops View Post
    Their personalities are completely different, their powers are completely different, Superman is larger than life ultra powerful, Spidey is street level, Supes is loved by public in-universe, Spidey's reputation is shaky at the best of times, Supes is an adult, Spidey was conceived as a teenager and is still written to be a on the younger side, Supes acts like a dork, Spidey is a dork.

    Sure, very similar.

    If Avengers was rewrite of Justice League then it would include Spidey, FF and X-Men as consistent members. They have nothing in common other than being the biggest superhero team in their universe.
    You're not interested in learning, you already know everything, so why bother continuing? This is like trying to convince a Star Wars nerd about the Kurosawa influences, and you're coming at it like "Well then how come there aren't any subtitles?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prof. Warren View Post
    Spider-Man was not Marvel's answer to Superman.

    Please supply specific quotes if you want to prove otherwise.

    Was Marvel responding to DC's success in superheroes? Yes.

    But it was the Fantastic Four - not The Avengers - that was created as an answer to The Justice League of America.

    Noting that JLA was a strong seller, Marvel publisher Martin Goodman directed Stan to develop a book with their own team of heroes. The result of that was the FF.
    The Avengers was absolutely a response to JLA just as much as FF was... again I'm referencing Untold Story of Marvel. https://nerdist.com/article/justice-...olf-goodman-2/

    I am aware that Stan mentions Spider-Man's influences as "The Spider" and seeing a house spider. We know that the character went through a few design drafts with Kirby before Ditko nailed it. We know that Marvel was very aware of what was working for DC at the time, and that Stan was fueled by a desire to do things differently -- to be hipper, basically. We know Spider-Man wasn't the very first Marvel hero created by Stan, but he was the first obviously superhero "long johns" character... the earlier creations of the FF, Hulk, Rick Jones, and Ant-Man weren't quite as embracing of the tropes as Spidey would be.

    --Both flagship heroes are in red, white, and blue
    --Both alter-egos are seen by others as bumbling ineffectual goofs, and both work at a metropolitan newspaper
    --Both heroes base their morality from their elderly, adopted parents
    --When Marvel and DC crossed their superheroes for the first time, they chose these two characters
    --Spider-Man's powers are nearly identical to early Superman; ie, both can leap tall buildings in a single bound

    Obviously there are differences. "But Superman wears a mask." But there are clear parallels with the archetypes.

    You're saying it's either not there, or it's coincidental. I don't think it was. Do you really think Superman had so little influence?

    I think Stan approached it as he said -- wanting to create a teenage superhero that the reader could identify with -- and I think in building out his world and backstory, I think he looked to what worked for Superman, and then subverted those things into its own thing.... which is no insult to either character. That's how creations work... they assemble elements from the past and put a new spin on it.

    Edit -- Here's an article that explores the similarities and contrasts between the two https://www.theatlantic.com/entertai...atters/273854/
    Last edited by gregpersons; 04-10-2019 at 12:24 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregpersons View Post
    You're not interested in learning, you already know everything, so why bother continuing? This is like trying to convince a Star Wars nerd about the Kurosawa influences, and you're coming at it like "Well then how come there aren't any subtitles?"
    You make a ridiculous statement like 'Spidey is answer to Superman' and are surprised that people don't agree?! I gave you numerous differences between the two and you call me that I'm not interested in learning?(the heck does that even supposed to mean?) The best argument you have is that they are the most popular characters of their respective company. NEWSFLASH! Someone will always be the most popular character of a franchise. That doesn't make them comparable to other most popular character of other franchise.
    “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”
    -Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregpersons View Post

    --Both flagship heroes are in red, white, and blue

    where’s the white on superman? his skin?
    troo fan or death

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpiderClops View Post
    You make a ridiculous statement like 'Spidey is answer to Superman' and are surprised that people don't agree?! I gave you numerous differences between the two and you call me that I'm not interested in learning?(the heck does that even supposed to mean?) The best argument you have is that they are the most popular characters of their respective company. NEWSFLASH! Someone will always be the most popular character of a franchise. That doesn't make them comparable to other most popular character of other franchise.
    Oh, my goodness, you're killing me. This is not that hard. Did Superman influence the creation of other superheroes? Yes or no?

    If I told you "Batman wouldn't exist without Superman" would you then start pedantically listing all of their differences as though that means there's no correlation? (I can imagine the snotty response already... "Uh yeah, nice try but NEWSFLASH Superman isn't a billionaire, so there's no connection.")
    Last edited by gregpersons; 04-11-2019 at 02:02 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregpersons View Post
    Oh, my goodness, you're killing me. This is not that hard. Did Superman influence the creation of other superheroes? Yes or no?

    If I told you "Batman wouldn't exist without Superman" would you then start pedantically listing all of their differences as though that means there's no correlation? (I can imagine the snotty response already... "Uh yeah, nice try but NEWSFLASH Superman isn't a billionaire, so there's no connection.")
    So we went from "Spider-Man was created as an answer to Superman" to "Superman influenced all superheroes". I'm not sure about you, but to me these two are very very different things.
    “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregpersons View Post
    I am aware that Stan mentions Spider-Man's influences as "The Spider" and seeing a house spider. We know that the character went through a few design drafts with Kirby before Ditko nailed it. We know that Marvel was very aware of what was working for DC at the time, and that Stan was fueled by a desire to do things differently -- to be hipper, basically. We know Spider-Man wasn't the very first Marvel hero created by Stan, but he was the first obviously superhero "long johns" character... the earlier creations of the FF, Hulk, Rick Jones, and Ant-Man weren't quite as embracing of the tropes as Spidey would be.

    --Both flagship heroes are in red, white, and blue
    --Both alter-egos are seen by others as bumbling ineffectual goofs, and both work at a metropolitan newspaper
    --Both heroes base their morality from their elderly, adopted parents
    --When Marvel and DC crossed their superheroes for the first time, they chose these two characters
    --Spider-Man's powers are nearly identical to early Superman; ie, both can leap tall buildings in a single bound

    Obviously there are differences. "But Superman wears a mask." But there are clear parallels with the archetypes.

    You're saying it's either not there, or it's coincidental. I don't think it was. Do you really think Superman had so little influence?

    I think Stan approached it as he said -- wanting to create a teenage superhero that the reader could identify with -- and I think in building out his world and backstory, I think he looked to what worked for Superman, and then subverted those things into its own thing.... which is no insult to either character. That's how creations work... they assemble elements from the past and put a new spin on it.

    Edit -- Here's an article that explores the similarities and contrasts between the two https://www.theatlantic.com/entertai...atters/273854/
    Spider-Man was not created to be Marvel's Superman. He just wasn't.

    Spider-Man was not created to be the flagship character of Marvel. He was a fluke. A one-shot story in a soon-to-be-cancelled anthology title that happened to catch on.

    To say that there was any deliberate planning or forethought to make him "Marvel's Superman" is absolutely incorrect.

    Superman was - and continues to be - an influence on the creation of every single costumed superhero. His presence is just too unavoidable.

    But that doesn't mean that there was any purposeful intent to make Spider-Man analogous in any way to Superman.

    To that point, you are really stretching to try and make a case:

    Quote Originally Posted by gregpersons View Post
    --Spider-Man's powers are nearly identical to early Superman; ie, both can leap tall buildings in a single bound
    In what comic ever did Spider-Man "leap tall buildings in a single bound?"

    "Nearly identical?" How about "not identical at all."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prof. Warren View Post
    Spider-Man was not created to be Marvel's Superman. He just wasn't.

    Spider-Man was not created to be the flagship character of Marvel. He was a fluke. A one-shot story in a soon-to-be-cancelled anthology title that happened to catch on.

    To say that there was any deliberate planning or forethought to make him "Marvel's Superman" is absolutely incorrect.

    Superman was - and continues to be - an influence on the creation of every single costumed superhero. His presence is just too unavoidable.

    But that doesn't mean that there was any purposeful intent to make Spider-Man analogous in any way to Superman.

    To that point, you are really stretching to try and make a case:

    In what comic ever did Spider-Man "leap tall buildings in a single bound?"

    "Nearly identical?" How about "not identical at all."
    It may have been more of a subconscious thing, but to say there's NO comparison, NO similarities, or it's all coincidental is far more absurd.

    The alter ego's nerdiness, the newspaper job, the costume colors, and to an extent, the powers... there are parallels that stand out. In the first few issues, he's "Spiderman" without the hyphen... once Marvel realized how close that looks to "Superman", then the hyphenated name is firmly established, right? These characters were not created in vacuums; they were aware, on whatever level, of what came before, and of what worked before, and what new lanes might be available to new characters.

    I don't think they literally sat down and said "Let's do our version of Superman." I'm saying that Stan & Jack & Steve were in a whirlwind of creating superheroes, and that the existing superheroes had influence, and you can still see that influence.

    It's not like Spidey is a "rip off" character -- they are both their own thing -- but if you could do a "23AndMe" of Spider-Man, I think you'd see more Superman DNA in the character than "The Spider" or some of the other stated influences.

    Edit: To be even clearer -- creations are more than the sum of their influences. Spider-Man is a unique blend of a few things. The biggest one, obviously, is "what if a superhero had everyday problems like bills or dandruff?" It's a funny observation and that is a big part of it. The name is attributed to "The Spider." I think a lot of the rest can be attributed to... well, you tell me.
    Last edited by gregpersons; 04-13-2019 at 01:01 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregpersons View Post
    It may have been more of a subconscious thing, but to say there's NO comparison, NO similarities, or it's all coincidental is far more absurd.

    The alter ego's nerdiness, the newspaper job, the costume colors, and to an extent, the powers... there are parallels that stand out. In the first few issues, he's "Spiderman" without the hyphen... once Marvel realized how close that looks to "Superman", then the hyphenated name is firmly established, right? These characters were not created in vacuums; they were aware, on whatever level, of what came before, and of what worked before, and what new lanes might be available to new characters.

    I don't think they literally sat down and said "Let's do our version of Superman." I'm saying that Stan & Jack & Steve were in a whirlwind of creating superheroes, and that the existing superheroes had influence, and you can still see that influence.

    It's not like Spidey is a "rip off" character -- they are both their own thing -- but if you could do a "23AndMe" of Spider-Man, I think you'd see more Superman DNA in the character than "The Spider" or some of the other stated influences.

    Edit: To be even clearer -- creations are more than the sum of their influences. Spider-Man is a unique blend of a few things. The biggest one, obviously, is "what if a superhero had everyday problems like bills or dandruff?" It's a funny observation and that is a big part of it. The name is attributed to "The Spider." I think a lot of the rest can be attributed to... well, you tell me.
    Well your position has now changed from Spider-Man being purposely created to be Marvel's Superman to "well, Stan and Steve were probably unconsciously influenced by Superman, don't you think?" - which is not the same argument on any level.

    Spider-Man was not created to be Marvel's Superman. Superman served as an "influence" only in so much as every superhero ever made after Action Comics #1 exists in Superman's shadow.

    As for the MJ as reporter argument on this thread, while it's not ridiculous to have her become a reporter of some kind, you seem to think that this is an either/or scenario - that either she's a reporter or she is completely sidelined and serves a peripheral role at best. And that's not the case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prof. Warren View Post
    Well your position has now changed from Spider-Man being purposely created to be Marvel's Superman to "well, Stan and Steve were probably unconsciously influenced by Superman, don't you think?" - which is not the same argument on any level.

    Spider-Man was not created to be Marvel's Superman. Superman served as an "influence" only in so much as every superhero ever made after Action Comics #1 exists in Superman's shadow.

    As for the MJ as reporter argument on this thread, while it's not ridiculous to have her become a reporter of some kind, you seem to think that this is an either/or scenario - that either she's a reporter or she is completely sidelined and serves a peripheral role at best. And that's not the case.
    Well, Spider-Man was meant to be a a deconstruction of a lot of superhero tropes, especially his relationship with the Daily Bugle, but Marvel as a whole does that so it’s not really special.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PCN24454 View Post
    Well, Spider-Man was meant to be a a deconstruction of a lot of superhero tropes, especially his relationship with the Daily Bugle, but Marvel as a whole does that so it’s not really special.
    Like Costume Heroes? Confidentially, we in the comic mag business refer to them as "Long Underwear Characters"! And, as you know, they're a dime a dozen! But, we think you may find our Spiderman just a bit...different!
    — The Narrator, Amazing Fantasy #15 the first words in any Spider-Man story ever. Written by Stan Lee

    The "long underwear" characters is definitely referring to Superman and Batman. I mean Superman and Batman are the only major examples of superheroes who wear their tights on the outside, patterned after circus and strongman performers. Even back then, the Flash and Green Lantern moved away from that. Both Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were definitely alluding to Superman and Batman in various ways. Steve Ditko growing up loved the Bill Finger era of Batman, and he studied under Jerry Robinson (Joker's co-creator) in the School of the Visual Arts, and there's no doubt that his design of Spider-Man's rogues gallery was made with Batman's in mind, as both inspiration and an example to avoid. Green Goblin for instance is very much Ditko's homage to the Joker. Peter Parker is definitely inspired by Clark Kent.

    Superman remember wasn't created or intended to be "the flagship character" of National Comics (later DC) either. His success was just as unexpected and little heralded. And remember that Superman changed repeatedly in the first two decades. It took a while for him to fly, took a while for Kryptonite to be a thing, likewise Lex Luthor wasn't intended to be Superman's arch-enemy out of the gate.

    Quote Originally Posted by gregpersons View Post
    Mary Jane should never speak in the comics. When she isn't in the bathtub, she should be thrown off a bridge. Besides, Lois Lane already speaks in other comics, and Jessica Jones already has a job in comics, so there's no other spots open. This "women's lib" thing will lead to legalizing gay marriage which will lead to everyone marrying dogs. Black and white thinking! Escalation!
    Don't be so offended. There's a certain cult of Spider-Man fans, some of whom have support from a few creators (and are likewise opposed by several other creators of considerable talent moreover), who are fixated and offended by the idea of characters changing or shifting from what they think, or rather what they select as "the version they were introduced". This group of people are offended by Mary Jane evolving and developing considerably from how she was introduced and most of them (not all of them mind you) are largely offended and or projecting some form of grudge or other at this. So you know you get inconsistency and so on. So some creator will attack Parallel Lives and say it departs from "how she was introduced" but on the same time make Dr. Octopus a hero based on backstory introduced in the 90s even if it's way bigger of a divergence from "how characters were introduced". The same group of fans will defend Corporate CEO Peter as in-character and so on.

    So don't expect consistency or good faith from such discussions. And yeah, "Gamergate" is not far from how some of them see things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prof. Warren View Post
    Well your position has now changed from Spider-Man being purposely created to be Marvel's Superman to "well, Stan and Steve were probably unconsciously influenced by Superman, don't you think?" - which is not the same argument on any level.

    Spider-Man was not created to be Marvel's Superman. Superman served as an "influence" only in so much as every superhero ever made after Action Comics #1 exists in Superman's shadow.

    As for the MJ as reporter argument on this thread, while it's not ridiculous to have her become a reporter of some kind, you seem to think that this is an either/or scenario - that either she's a reporter or she is completely sidelined and serves a peripheral role at best. And that's not the case.
    1) My statement is that Spider-Man was/is Marvel's answer to Superman -- not that he was necessarily created to be so consciously, but that he IS so -- or, was so (Superman isn't necessarily the flagship character of DC anymore, and it's debatable whether Spidey is for Marvel, as both have possibly been eclipsed by others in the post-superhero movie boom).

    You're underselling Superman's influence on Spider-Man... there is more Superman influence on Spider-Man than only that they are both superheroes with a "-man" suffix... I think the evidence is apparent if you look at both characters from a conceptual/bird's-eye view and (I guess) an open mind. Like, there just aren't a ton of heroes in red/blue outfits, whose alter egos are defined by nebbishness and work at newspapers, who operate(d) as the face of the publisher for several decades, both were married in the comics around the same time period, both were cosmically un-married in the same time period, etc etc... these two characters have a connection, and it's not entirely incidental. Somebody else pointed out that Spider-Man also had an influence on Superman, and that is ALSO true -- the Marvel effect on DC was obvious in some ways (the John Byrne "Man of Steel" reboot) and more subtle in other ways -- but there's always been a symbiotic relationship between the big two publishers.

    People generally seem to be comfortable comparing/contrasting Superman with Batman, but if you compare Superman with Spider-Man, it's almost like.... sacrilege? Is it because of fanboy/publisher loyalty stuff? I don't really get why the comparison is dismissed so effusively.

    2) I don't think it's an either/or, generally -- but in the comics, she has been relegated to the sidelines for most of her published history. If we made a list of her highlights, what would those be? If we really went through that exercise, we'd see there's honestly NOT a lot*, and if you compare them to the sheer amount of panels in which she is literally just crying over Peter, the difference is staggering.

    So you compare that to PS4 Spider-Man, where MJ is realized in a more three-dimensional way, probably the best version of the character to date, so -- why can't those characteristics be adapted to her in the 616? "Well, it hasn't been done already, so it can not be" seems to be the response. Frankly, that is the "either/or" thinking. What I've seen in response to the reporter suggestion is "no," and "lol she should be a space vampire" -- cool! Can't believe we like the same character, it's clearly not for the same reason and yes, I'm getting increasingly embarrassed to be here, which I recognize is exactly the goal.

    The more productive conversation would be to identify possibilities where MJ can she be woven into the story in an organic way that does MORE than place her squarely in a B plot, or in the role of helpless mewling. Now, could that be as an actress or supermodel**? Yes, it could -- but, as we've seen, the inherent limitation there is that Spider-Man is not a superhero exclusively for the Broadway beat, so it's always going to be a stretch to connect the two in the narrative.

    Do Spider-Man stories have to bend over backwards to incorporate J Jonah Jameson? No. He's organically involved as the comical antagonist representation of an unfair media. The PS4 game made the brilliant move to have MJ be sort of the anti-JJJ — she's the media being helpful to Spidey, whereas JJJ is the media being an antagonist.

    IMO, it worked really well.



    *This is true of MOST love interest characters in superheroes... even characters like Catwoman, who has been around for 80 years, you might assume would have more stories where she's heroic/interesting in a comparable way to, say, Batman or Nightwing -- it's just not there. Prior to Catwoman's current ongoing, she's had ONE run with ONE writer who gave a damn about treating her like a human instead of a T&A delivery device.

    It's ironic that there is this notion that MJ shouldn't be anything like Lois Lane, one of the few supporting/love interests who has been shown to be competent/strong-willed of her own volition, but nobody has an issue with MJ being another damsel in distress (seriously, how many bridges has she been thrown off of?)...

    What I loved about Into The Spider-Verse was the inviting aspect of the concept, that superheroes can be more than merely the domain of angry straight white male nerds... and though PS4 Spider-Man only had Peter as Spidey, it still did a great job of showing how Aunt May and Mary Jane were heroic in their own right, and I thought that also worked very very well.

    So, in catching back up on the 616, it's been disappointing to see that the comics haven't really caught up to the media portrayals... yet! But the potential is there to adapt it -- they're doing it with May, and it wouldn't be shocking to see them do it with MJ -- I suspect they eventually will do this, or something similar.


    **MJ, a writer? Not believable! But Peter Parker's girlfriend is a supermodel AND he's also relatable everyman with money troubles? *shrug*... hey, it is what it is!

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