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  1. #1
    Incredible Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Default Analysis: What makes Spider-Man so interesting?

    I thought I'd make a topic to analyze what and how we appreciate Spider-Man, and the various ways his character have managed to stay relevant. He's noteworthy for a number of different reasons. For example, while the flagship of Marvel has fluctuated between Fantastic Four, X-Men and Avengers as the years pass, Spider-Man remains constant as the other flagship that's unlikely to get demoted. Even if Marvel fails to regain Spider-Man for the MCU, I have a hard time believing they'll try to get rid of him like they did with the X-Men and Fantastic Four before the Fox buyout. He's just too core to Marvel. For this, I'll use the other hot Marvel superhero at the moment for comparison, Iron Man, and demonstrate why the Webhead has always held up over the Shellhead.

    I think the only individual who is as synonymous with a comic book company as Spider-Man to Marvel, is Batman to DC. Coincidentally, Spider-Man is my favorite Marvel hero and Batman is my favorite DC hero. No, I'm not basic, it just happened that way.

    As for why Spider-Man has always been so fascinating for me, it's because he's relatable. Sure, he has powers, fights a wide variety of colorful villains, and takes part in all the over-the-top stuff that comes with superhero comics, but he's just like... a dude. He struggles with the mundane like we do, whether it's about paying bills, being there for his friends, maintaining a relationship, or just living life the way he wants. He refuses to be selfish and use his abilities for personal gain, because the one time he did, he lost Uncle Ben. His corner is (almost) always the area where realism reigns; the dead stay dead, there's an abscence of retcons, characters develop, and the status quo changes have actual and meaningful consequences, while organically transitioning from one era to the next. Of course, that can be thrown out the window if a greedy marketing team takes over, a writer has a "bright" idea, or an editor has an agenda to push, but most of the time, it's true.

    That's also why Spider-Man has always been so much more interesting than Iron Man. Sure, Tony isn't without his own struggles (the alcoholism comes to mind), but he's still a "genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist", which is a lot harder for the common man to relate to. Not to mention he's kind of a "heroic mad scientist" in that he'll go to great lengths to do something for "good" or just "scientific discovery". Oh, and he became a fascist bully who enforced the asinine SHRA on the entire superhuman/superhero population. That kinda led to the person who least needed the power, Norman Osborn (the archenemy of Spidey as it turns out), to be given the keys to the kingdom.

    It's telling that Peter has always been A-list and beloved, while Tony had always been a firm B-lister who had a fanbase but was never a standout, and then became widely hated due to the aforementioned villainizing arc. It took the MCU becoming a massive success and RDJ's performance to make Tony a true A-list character. Think how often you'd see people dress as Spider-Man as cosplay or for Halloween versus Iron Man before the MCU. Yeah, that would be a sad comparison (for Tony, anyways).

    All of this isn't to knock on Iron Man, as he does have great stories, but most of them feature outside elements. Armor Wars for example features Nick Fury, his then-helper Ant-Man (Scott Lang), and the Avengers. The best story I can think of that only focuses on Iron Man and his cast is the Extremis arc, but that's just one story. Spider-Man can hold many great stories without anyone from the general MU popping in. Example: Kraven's Last Hunt, quite possibly the best Spider-Man story ever, did not feature anyone outside Spider-Man's part of the MU. Many other stories considered classics don't feature others as well, and if they do, likely not in a prominent way. In fact, OMD, the worst story, did feature everyone and it only made the story even worse by making the entire Marvel Universe (from physics-defying scientists, reality-warping wizards, and people who specifically have the power to heal others) look insanely dumb.

    Another thing I really appreciate about Spider-Man's stories is that there's a definite sci-fi element, what with the superpowers, technology like webshooters, gliders, power armor, shock gauntlets, super serums, robotic tentacles, and so on, yet it's perceived through the eyes of the mundane. It never overtakes the focus on the realistic element (most of the time... looking at you, Clone Saga). The focus by-and-large is on how Spider-Man and his supporting cast get through everyday life, and they see these things as just added elements. Sure, Spider-Man and Fantastic Four could both be considered "sci-fi", but compare the former to the latter, and the difference is immediately noticeable.

    To sum it all up, Spider-Man is fascinating because he's relatable, and his view of the world is like ours if it were one where superheroes existed. That's what separates him from people like Iron Man, who view everything from the top and fully embrace the fantasy of the superhero genre. It's cool to have that, but at the same time, it makes them a little less relatable in the process.

    I think MJ said it best in ITSV: "We all have powers of one kind or the other, and in our own way we are all Spider-Man."

    That's my take. I was curious to see your opinions. Feel free to share what makes Spider-Man interesting to you. I think this will be a fun discussion.

    Disclaimer: I don't hate Iron Man and didn't make this just to rag on him, he's a pretty cool hero himself, but it's also true that Iron Man isn't as relatable to Spider-Man and relies much more heavily on the general MU. I was using him for comparison.

  2. #2
    Kinky Lil' Canine Snoop Dogg's Avatar
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    he has a big butt and a tight costume

    he laughs at his pain

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    The thing with the really big popular characters is that you can never entirely define what exactly makes them so interesting. That's true of Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and others.

    I think at the basic element, Spider-Man has a perfect costume design. I think the appeal of Spider-Man is really down to his costume. I know everyone says Peter Parker is the core of Spider-Man. Yes that's true as well. But take a look at the Japanese Spider-Man in the '70s where you don't have Peter Parker behind the costume but the show still caught on in Japan and made Spider-Man a sensation. All because the costume really traveled well. The costume has that right mix of creepiness and cuteness. So Steve Ditko's genius is maybe the major part why Spider-Man has traveled as well as he does.

    The other reason, if you compare the Fantastic Four and the X-Men you can more easily arrive at a reason. The Fantastic Four is a title that hasn't evolved out of the paradigm set by Lee-Kirby in the '60s. Whereas the X-Men, being on-brand as always, took a huge evolutionary leap away from that. Everyone says the Fantastic Four is about family...but it's family as understood and defined in the '50s. I think Spider-Man caught on and stayed relevant because his title had more growth and development than other titles and there was always a sense of time going forward. Spider-Man was on the more realistic side of the spectrum in the MU until the Clone Saga.

    Some people at Marvel have said, in what is essentially their fanfiction, that had people known Spider-Man was successful, he wouldn't have evolved out of the Lee-Ditko paradigm. I think if you look at Fantastic Four you have an answer to what that might have looked like. Most likely if Spider-Man didn't open itself to change, Spider-Man would have stagnated and seen as a dated relic of '60s (more precisely late 50s and early 60s) views. After all, Lee-Romita Spider-Man did far better than Lee-Ditko's run. Then later you had more changes with Conway. And of course Spider-Man's most successful period across comics history is when he got married. I think that element of change and growth is what has done the most to keep Spider-Man vital and alive.
    Last edited by Revolutionary_Jack; 09-17-2019 at 05:17 AM.

  4. #4
    Incredible Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    That's a good point. The FF have always been stagnant because they're expected to. That's not inherently bad, but it opens them to less possibilities in the process. The FF essentially built Marvel as the "first family". Without FF, Stan Lee never would've been able to get Spider-Man greenlit. It's telling that the first issue of TASM had him meeting the FF. The Lee-Kirby run on the FF is considered one of the defining runs in all of comics.

    Because of that, it's hard to break away. You can't really expand the team for two reasons:
    1. They're a family and one that doesn't open itself to significant roster shifts.
    2. They have "four" in their name, and the catchy alliteration makes it nigh-impossible to change.

    Any changes, like Crystal being on the team, She-Hulk replacing Thing, Ant-Man II being a mechanic and honorary member, and so on, are temporary in the long run. I think the biggest changes were post-2000 where Human Torch "died" and Spider-Man replaced him, forming the Future Foundation (which was a great era for sure, but it was never going to be the permanent status quo). And in 2015, where they were cancelled as a spite over film rights... yeah, that's not a good one. I'm reading the revival series just because I'm glad to even have FF back to begin with.

    That brings us back to Spider-Man. He's always been able to grow and remain relevant to whatever era he was in, he's just very adaptable that way. Yet the core of him remains the same: struggles with the mundane, fights colorful villains, makes quips to deal with his struggles. It's neat seeing him grow like that. With the FF, they've always been so tied to the Silver Age that it's hard to modernize them, especially since Fox trying to make them "current" backfired so miserably.

    Oh, and yes, having a cool design like him certainly helps. I think it's also the same reason we love Snake Eyes while the generic protagonist Duke is mostly ignored, or why the Power Rangers took off in the '90s the way they did.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    That's a good point. The FF have always been stagnant because they're expected to. That's not inherently bad, but it opens them to less possibilities in the process.
    Doctor Doom for instance has had more growth and development than the Fantastic Four combined. Reed Richards will never cure Ben Grimm but Doom went to Hell and freed his mother's soul. Doom has become God (twice). Doom has conquered the world like it's no big thang (Emperor Doom). Doom has gone straight and become a superhero (Infamous Iron Man). Doom is godfather, and midwife (or mid-husband), to the daughter of Reed and Sue.

    I actually (half-seriously) think that Doom is the major reason why the Fantastic Four are still around. He's Marvel's best villain but no matter what you do, you just can't substitute his rivalry with Richards. You need Richards to do Doom's story right, so you need to keep Richards around. And of course now you have Valeria who in my headcanon will be the one who eventually kills and dethrones Old Man Doom and becomes the new Dictator of Latveria sometime in the future.

    But fundamentally, yeah, Spider-Man lasted long because his titles changed, and had forward momentum. Being big in the '60s is no guarantee to lasting cultural relevance and longevity as in the case of the FF (who were biggest in the '60s and rarely since then), and the X-Men (not big in the '60s, but inescapable from the late '70s to early '00s).

  6. #6
    Extraordinary Member Celgress's Avatar
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    My Two Cents

    Peter Parker is a nerd, a social outcast who gains extraordinary powers by way of an accident. His initial impulse is to use said powers for persona gain which results in disaster. He spends the rest of his life trying to make amends juggling his personal obligations with his heroic responsibilities. His is relatable as he makes mistakes but always tries his best. His compassion for others and selfishness are legendary. He might not be the strongest, fastest or toughest hero around but he does have arguably the biggest heart.
    Last edited by Celgress; 09-17-2019 at 01:37 PM.
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  7. #7
    Incredible Member Jman27's Avatar
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    It's cause of the suit
    "He's pure power and doesn't even know it. He's the best of us."-Matt Murdock

  8. #8
    Extraordinary Member WebLurker's Avatar
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    I think a good concept and costume design and the narrative flexibility (you can do comedy and drama with him, not to mention there is material about him being a teen, adult, family man, etc.) are notable reasons. I'm sure the fact that he appeals to kids a lot helps too; it creates new generation of fans.
    Doctor Strange: "You are the right person to replace Logan."
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    (All-New Wolverine #4)

  9. #9
    Spectacular Member witchboy's Avatar
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    For me, Peter Parker is what makes Spidey so interesting. The nice, normal guy, who struggles, and often fails, but keeps trying. He's so well developed, so human, that's what makes him so interesting to me. That's why you can't put someone else in the suit and make it work. It helps that he has a very strong supporting cast to interact with, from Aunt May and MJ to one of the best rogue's gallery in comics.
    Miles ultimately stands well on his own. I wish he had this same level of success but his own unique identity.

  10. #10
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    My personal and flawed point of view.

    Spider-Man is the greatest super-hero ever created. No disrespect towards Superman, who created the concept of superhero and made it insanely popular, and Batman, who created the concept of the "dark" vigilante hero/anti-hero (and the Batman of the earliest stories was an anti-hero).

    But Spider-Man took those two concepts and took them further in its own direction. Spider-Man became the first "modern", popular superhero.

    Now, why I like Spider-Man over any other Marvel, DC, Image or anything else hero?


    It's not the great sense of responsibility. It's not relatability. It's not the creative/fantasy based side.

    It's how Spider-Man could switch from a carefree, thoughtless attitude to a dark and broody one, how he can live adventures like "The Commuter Cometh..." and yet overcome traumas like the death of the Stacy(s), Uncle Ben, Ned Leeds, Charlemagne, Frederick Foswell, etc.
    I admire how Spider-Man/Peter Parker NEVER FORGETS the people he lost, but at the same time he has the inner strength to keep on fighting, laughing and inspire hope to others. What heroes should really be.

    Spider-Man helped me overcome many real life traumas and I owe him a lot. Several people I know who also like Spider-Man have had the same kind of experiences. So I'd dare to say that Spider-Man is the most "therapeutic" (hyperbolic, I know) comic book on the market.

  11. #11
    Extraordinary Member Celgress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchboy View Post
    For me, Peter Parker is what makes Spidey so interesting. The nice, normal guy, who struggles, and often fails, but keeps trying. He's so well developed, so human, that's what makes him so interesting to me. That's why you can't put someone else in the suit and make it work....
    I couldn't possibly agree with this statement anymore, especially the last bit. Peter Parker is not an interchangeable part of Spider-Man HE IS SPIDER-MAN. In their quest for something new and "edgy", writers sometimes forget this fundamental fact (as they do with other similar characters like Batman being Bruce Wayne).
    Last edited by Celgress; 09-18-2019 at 10:22 AM.
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  12. #12
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    I would say the appeal of Spider-Man is his supporting cast. Most other superheroes, supporting cast only exist to fill the background. With Spider-Man you can see them grow and change.

    I believe that’s why TAS and the Spectacular Spider-Man are so beloved versus the recent Disney shows. They didn’t spend enough time justifying why you should care about the cast.

    I hated the recent trend of giving his supporting cast superpowers or super abilities as I felt it reinforced the myth that superheroes should only be in contact with other super beings.

    The best Spider-Man stories aren’t where he just goes in and beats people up. They’re when you can see his relationships with his cast and how they affect each other.

  13. #13
    Extraordinary Member Celgress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PCN24454 View Post
    I would say the appeal of Spider-Man is his supporting cast. Most other superheroes, supporting cast only exist to fill the background. With Spider-Man you can see them grow and change.

    I believe that’s why TAS and the Spectacular Spider-Man are so beloved versus the recent Disney shows. They didn’t spend enough time justifying why you should care about the cast.

    I hated the recent trend of giving his supporting cast superpowers or super abilities as I felt it reinforced the myth that superheroes should only be in contact with other super beings.

    The best Spider-Man stories aren’t where he just goes in and beats people up. They’re when you can see his relationships with his cast and how they affect each other.
    I seconded this post, with one caveat. While I have nothing against supporting cast members with superpowers such characters should always be a minority group among the overall cast. This way you keep the main character grounded with real-world concerns to counterpoint their more extraordinary problems.
    Last edited by Celgress; 09-19-2019 at 03:00 PM.
    "So you've come to the end now alive but dead inside."

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