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  1. #1
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Default Spider-Man: Major in real life, Minor in-universe?

    I covered this in the Missed Opportunities thread in the General Marvel forum, and it really got me thinking, how true is this, and what do you think of it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    This is a core difference between Spider-Man and Batman. The real world popularity of Spider-Man never influences the narrative of where Spidey stands in the world. He’s just another hero, not an icon of his own. Doctor Doom’s main beef is with the FF, and following that is his plot for world conquest that puts him at odds with other big teams and heroes. Whenever he meets Spider-Man, he views him as some D-lister not worth his time. In most events that aren’t Spider-based that he appears in, he’s a minor character. I think the most important was Civil War, where he was a supporting character but far from a main one.

    Batman on the other hand has become “that guy” of DC, because his popularity means that he’ll be the center of the DC Universe. He’s often a driving force, even for stories that should be way above his weight class. Batman is DC to lot of people in real life, and in-universe as well.

    It’s a mixed bag in my opinion. I would like to see Spider-Man be more important especially since elements of his lore have been important before. I think the Parker Industries arc, if handled by a better writer could have been a much longer lasting shift and well earned, but it wasn’t handled well and thus was reverted fast. It would be cool to see a big event or Spiderman saves the world. But we’re unlikely to see that Because Spider-Man is defined as a “street level” hero even if that tag is a bit of a spotty title.
    This came after I said a missed opportunity was in Dark Reign, where Norman Osborn's rise from being Spider-Man's villain to the big bad of the General MU did not have a reverse effect on Peter in a similar way. Osborn grew out of the corner and menaced everyone, while Spider-Man remained in that corner the whole time. The end of Dark Reign was the traditional "Avengers suit up and defeat the bad guy" story of many events, whereas Spider-Man was there but was just another character despite Osborn being his eternal nemesis. We did get a bit of fanservice with Spidey shutting Osborn up with a punch to the face, but that was after he had already lost. Spidey could've elevated in a reverse level similar to Osborn, where he became a big good like figure to counter him. That... didn't happen.

    I even said that the Parker Industries arc could've had potential if it was handled better than how Slott did it, because that was a chance for Spidey to really branch out and become something new. But it was done badly, and illusion of change set in.

    So that brings me to the main point. Spider-Man in-universe may occupy his own corner that's massive to us, but not to the others. He's just another hero, rather than some big A-lister. It's interesting because, as mentioned in the quote, it directly contrasts how DC let the real world popularity of Batman influence his standing in the universe to the point where he's "that guy" of DC. Spider-Man just isn't quite "that guy" of Marvel even with a comparable popularity to Bats. I don't think there's ever been a big crossover event where Spider-Man was absolutely essential to saving the world and was a major character.

    On one hand, I do like it because it allows the universe to feel complete without anyone being "that guy" like Batman, and the different areas of Marvel feel distinct as they should be. Plus, I like Spidey as a humble, small steps hero who might be the strongest street leveler there is. On the other, I would like Peter to finally catch a break and be something greater because the "Parker Luck" of constantly seeing him down can make you feel bad. Hence, it's a mixed bag.

    What are your overall thoughts? Do you think this is better, or should Spider-Man's status elevate? Is it a mixed bag to anyone else? Discuss.

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member Inversed's Avatar
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    I'm a little mixed on the subject. For one, I do like that Spider-Man hasn't been too elevated through his success and they've kept him relatively down to earth. He's supposed to be the most "relatable" of the main MU heroes, and his strengths work the best when he's taking on the smaller more intimate problems (being the friendly neighbourhood spider-man etc etc).

    It's also good because then he doesn't face the over exposure issue that Batman has. Having him at the centre of every single conflict just starts to feel dragged out and forced after too long.

    On the other hand, I do think Spider-Man is someone who does deserve more credit and attention, for how long he's been around (in universe) and through everyone he's helped with. I mean when you consider team ups and cross overs, he's probably interacted with more heroes and villains than anybody. Though among his peers he's still just considered as just "the other guy", mostly just to emphasis that underdog status he's supposed to have, even though by now everyone should already know what he's all about.

    It's one of the reasons I loved Spider-Island (and also Ends Of The Earth), because they are some of the very very few "Spidey Saves The World" stories, and those help to demonstrate his power, convictions, and ideals among his contemporaries and the public. And I really wanna see another story like that in the future, showing his power on a large scale and getting others to see or recognize him in a different light. (It looks like Venom's probably gonna get this chance for himself whenever Knull ends up showing up)
    Current Reading List: Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider, Sonic The Hedgehog, Absolute Carnage, Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man, Gwenpool Strikes Back, Runaways, The White Trees

  3. #3
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inversed View Post
    I'm a little mixed on the subject. For one, I do like that Spider-Man hasn't been too elevated through his success and they've kept him relatively down to earth. He's supposed to be the most "relatable" of the main MU heroes, and his strengths work the best when he's taking on the smaller more intimate problems (being the friendly neighbourhood spider-man etc etc).

    It's also good because then he doesn't face the over exposure issue that Batman has. Having him at the centre of every single conflict just starts to feel dragged out and forced after too long.

    On the other hand, I do think Spider-Man is someone who does deserve more credit and attention, for how long he's been around (in universe) and through everyone he's helped with. I mean when you consider team ups and cross overs, he's probably interacted with more heroes and villains than anybody. Though among his peers he's still just considered as just "the other guy", mostly just to emphasis that underdog status he's supposed to have, even though by now everyone should already know what he's all about.

    It's one of the reasons I loved Spider-Island (and also Ends Of The Earth), because they are some of the very very few "Spidey Saves The World" stories, and those help to demonstrate his power, convictions, and ideals among his contemporaries and the public. And I really wanna see another story like that in the future, showing his power on a large scale and getting others to see or recognize him in a different light. (It looks like Venom's probably gonna get this chance for himself whenever Knull ends up showing up)
    Yeah, those stories were good, but they were explicitly marked as being Spider-Man stories rather than wide crossovers. I feel like any given crossover that's on a large scale with many tie-ins will have Spidey as just another character rather than a main one. It's when he's in his own books does he get to shine.

    Come to think of it, logically shouldn't he be a bigger deal than he is? He's actually one of the longest running superheroes in-universe. It was the Fantastic Four who effectively started the modern Marvel Universe, and Spider-Man was one of the very first superheroes to emerge after the FF, and I think the only other ones to predate him after the FF are Ant-Man and the Hulk. Other than that, you had Jim Hammond, Cap, and Namor from WWII. But really, Spider-Man must've been like one of the early superheroes before it really caught on from an in-universe perspective. He predates the Avengers, the X-Men, and almost all the other heroes. Sliding timeline makes it hard to keep track, especially since only around 15 years have passed in-universe since the FF debuted, but still.

    Plus, given that Spidey has been close to the Fantastic Four, right up to being a member of the Future Foundation, and has been a member of the Avengers both reserve and full-time, those close connections should also have rubbed off on him in the community. I feel like logically, he should be more than just "another superhero" if there was to be a hierarchy and credit. They actually go back and forth, because in Civil War you had him unmasking himself to the world, and it was a massive event that made him bigger than Elvis according to Tony Stark (before OMD happened of course) -- so clearly he had some cred because any random hero unmasking themselves wouldn't have been such a big deal.

    I'm not saying that him being a humble hero is bad in this case, I was just wondering if it made sense in-universe when looking at it as a whole.

  4. #4
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    I covered this in the Missed Opportunities thread in the General Marvel forum, and it really got me thinking, how true is this, and what do you think of it?
    Mostly, I don't care, nor do I think most will because very few people read Spider-Man's team-up appearances in The Avengers or what have you so it's not something that is going to affect Spider-Man's standing in his main titles and stories. It would bother me more if The Avengers outsold ASM by a wide margin and the Spider-Man of the Avengers becomes the default version/take on the character. That has happened to a lot of characters sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse but not Spider-Man.

    At the end of the day, Spider-Man is a lot more Major than the following : Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, The Punisher and a good deal more. He also has held his own title, continuously without cancellation when the same cannot be said of Doctor Strange, Hulk, The Mighty Thor, the Fantastic Four among others. He's a big time superhero for sure.

    The bigger problem is that people need to get over this concept of the shared universe as some status symbol. It wasn't that way for the longest time. At heart, Avengers is a trashy team of rejects who can't sell their own stories because they are, with few exceptions, not especially interesting characters. That's how the Avengers began as, it's what they still are in their titles, and the MCU hasn't drastically increased sales of Avengers comics, and with HoX/PoX succeeding after the X-Men aren't fenced in anymore, the Avengers will go back from whenst it came, happily. The truth is that a good writer and concept can make the smallest stories radiate with the biggest importance.

    Spider-Man is about the importance of ordinary life and regular people. Thanks to Spider-Man, characters like J. Jonah Jameson and Mary Jane Watson are as famous, and in some cases, more famous than a lot of big name superheroes. That's pretty cool.

    This came after I said a missed opportunity was in Dark Reign, where Norman Osborn's rise from being Spider-Man's villain to the big bad of the General MU did not have a reverse effect on Peter in a similar way.
    Yeah, in the case of Dark Reign that should have been Spider-Man who had the major play in the finale, but Bendis wanted the ending to close the curtain on the Civil War era (albeit it didn't do that since it was Hickman who finally did that in his far-better-in-every-possible-way run) so the ending had to be a Cap/Tony/Thor show, albeit Avengers almost always seems to devolve into that.

    About the only real exception is back in the JMS run, with Spider-Man's first showing with the Avengers he just signs on with. This is a story told in ASM rather than the main New Avengers book at the time. Peter leads in an assault on a Hydra base and plays a major part in shutting it down. That's I think the best portrayal of Spider-Man in the Avengers, what Spider-Man can bring to the Avengers and what the Avengers could do with him. Unfortunately Bendis's New Avengers run, mostly because he doesn't have a lot of feel for 616 Spider-Man as a character (he certainly prefers Ultimate Peter to 616), didn't give him many moments there.

    I mean that's my problem with Marvel in general, it's far less democratic than DC where in the Justice League or whoever you will have a story where someone on the smaller part of the team gets to save the day, and not every story is the Superman and Batman or Wonder Woman show. But in the Avengers, it's almost always a story about the Big Three, or a story about love affairs between the middle tier group that drives the action.

    Hickman's Avengers/New Avengers kind of did break that where the focus was on the Illuminati so it's a Reed Richards, T'Challa, and Namor story mainly, minor figures like Starbrand and Sunspot get to have a big say, as does Beast, and at the end of it Cap and Tony were a sideshow and afterthought in Secret Wars 2015. That felt like righting the balance after a long while.

    What are your overall thoughts? Do you think this is better, or should Spider-Man's status elevate? Is it a mixed bag to anyone else? Discuss.
    I don't think Spider-Man should go to Batgod level ridiculousness, where Batman has become so overexposed that there's really nothing more to do or say with that character, and in the case of DC, Batman has hampered them properly developing other characters. I mean Batman is the biggest title in the comics market but Marvel is the bigger publisher than DC, which seems to be because Marvel has had more success in developing titles beyond the flagship than DC has. I mean on a Doylist level, Marvel is more democratic as a publisher, but on a Watsonian level, i.e. In-Universe, DC is more democratic. It would be nice to have it all, right?

    At the same time, maybe a writer can come in and have Spider-Man do a big scale story. Roger Stern in his run on Spider-Man felt he had been nerfed too much and restored his super-strength and pit him against Juggernaut, The Mad Thinker, Mr. Hyde and others. JMS in his run on Spider-Man had Peter defeat Morlun, a character as strong as Thor, and had him defeat Tony Stark in battle and make Captain America bleed in his tie-in issues to Civil War, likewise, he had Peter established as Alpha over Kingpin, ending Fisk for good as a physical threat in 616.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member David Walton's Avatar
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    Spider-Man should be a mostly 'grounded' character. If he saves the universe, few should be aware, including him (like the Secret Wars II tie-in where Mephisto and the Beyonder gambled the fate of the cosmos on whether Spider-Man would allow assassins to kill the Kingpin). So really the only exception to the rule (in my mind) is a 'the microcosm is the macrocosm' kind of deal where more intimate stakes are unknowingly tied to larger ones.

    Peter is a (mostly) reactionary hero. He sees a fire, he puts it out. He doesn't generally go looking for trouble, other than routine patrols to help where he can, and most of his biggest battles have been grudge matches by villains seeking him out because of his past interference with their plans.

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Walton View Post
    Peter is a (mostly) reactionary hero.
    All Marvel heroes are fundamentally that, no.

    He sees a fire, he puts it out. He doesn't generally go looking for trouble, other than routine patrols to help where he can, and most of his biggest battles have been grudge matches by villains seeking him out because of his past interference with their plans.
    Not all of them. Like Juggernaut didn't have a grudge against Spider-Man, nor did Firelord. Most of Spider-Man's villains became villains independent of Peter Parker.



    I will say that if and when Marvel get around to doing a crossover story where Mephisto gets punk'd and benched, maybe "killed" for a few years (after all there's a One Below All who is worse than Mephisto established by Ewing, so there's no more need for Mephisto)...it has to be Spider-Man who lands the biggest blow (maybe not the killing blow) but the big splash image and so on.

  7. #7
    Kinky Lil' Canine Snoop Dogg's Avatar
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    spider-man should come back to the avengers as their janitor

  8. #8
    Invincible Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    That job would be beneath Peter.
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  9. #9
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoop Dogg View Post
    spider-man should come back to the avengers as their janitor
    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend View Post
    That job would be beneath Peter.
    Being the Janitor of the Avengers is more honorable than being on the Avengers itself.

    This is the team that has been a halfway home for several criminals, traitors, and villains such as Sandman, Hawkeye, Scarlet Widow, Quicksilver, Black Widow, Swordsman, Wonder Man whose founder Hank Pym was a wife-beater and creator of a genocide robot, and whose other co-founder Iron Man is a former war profiteer, and whose other co-founder Thor was the deity of the Vikings who carried out immense war crimes in the middle ages in the name of Thor and the Aesir.

    A humble janitor who keeps a proper job, follows the law, does his duty and has his tax money gouged to fund overblown institutions like the Avengers has far more worth and value than those guys.

    This is what I mean by shared universe stories fostering a bizarre status symbol that is kind of toxic and classist. The idea of Spider-Man being a janitor to the Avengers is a multi-level insult to Spider-Man, to janitors elsewhere while doing nothing to credit the Avengers as anything other than some glorified country club of superheroes. Real life country clubs you know excluded, and continue to exclude, people if they were Jewish and black and so on.

    And lest people think I am reaching, such arguments are often made about super-teams that it kind of fosters a bizarre mentality of "cool kid peer pressure", whether it's the Legion of Superheroes where they had multiple stories vetting members if they are in and out, and the Justice League that made Wonder Woman the secretary. /

    As far as Spider-Man and the Avengers, and the rest of the Marvel Universe goes, to quote a character played by Tobey Maguire (aka the original Peter Parker) in a movie,

    "They're a rotten crowd, you're worth the whole damn bunch put together".
    Last edited by Revolutionary_Jack; 01-14-2020 at 02:27 PM.

  10. #10
    Invincible Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    the Justice League that made Wonder Woman the secretary. /
    That was the Justice Society, not the League.
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  11. #11
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend View Post
    That was the Justice Society, not the League.
    Okay, but the Justice League still sucked then.

  12. #12
    Loony Scott Taylor's Avatar
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    Spider-Man is not The Great Gatsby, he is more of a Nick Carraway (worked in another Tobey Maguire reference!). The everyman who observes quietly rather than the guy everyone follows and admires. The character isn't meant for greatness or to be a leader of a group of superheroes or to be a guy all the other superheroes call up when they need a favor.

    Batman does differ in that he is rich and that he does have skills that people like Superman and Wonder Woman want now and then. But I don't really think you could call Batman a high profile character in the comics. He still tends to do his stuff behind the scenes. Popular to the readers, yes. But so is Spider-Man.
    Every day is a gift, not a given right.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Inversed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    At the same time, maybe a writer can come in and have Spider-Man do a big scale story. Roger Stern in his run on Spider-Man felt he had been nerfed too much and restored his super-strength and pit him against Juggernaut, The Mad Thinker, Mr. Hyde and others. JMS in his run on Spider-Man had Peter defeat Morlun, a character as strong as Thor, and had him defeat Tony Stark in battle and make Captain America bleed in his tie-in issues to Civil War, likewise, he had Peter established as Alpha over Kingpin, ending Fisk for good as a physical threat in 616.
    By "big scale" story, I don't think we need another one of Spider-Man secretly soloing a super powerful big bad to demonstrate his strength. We know how powerful he is, and we know what he's able to accomplish. I think the best way to highlight his physical and cognitive abilities, both to himself and to the rest of his world, is to take charge of a much grander threat.

    That's why I used Spider-Island and Ends Of The Earth as examples, since those are major world-effecting threats (the Spider virus infecting New York and Doc Ock's burn the Earth plan), in which we see people's reactions, both the public and superhero community, on a much greater scope, and through this scope it highlights Peter's experiences, his abilities, leadership skills, overall knowledge, and his ethics and morals that are what make him standout among some of his peers.

    One of my favourite Spidey moments is in the New Avengers tie-in for Avengers Vs. X-Men, where Spider-Man's told to teach Hope some stuff, and Hope flips out at him because she assumes he's just useless, but then he tells her the Uncle Ben story and explains his ideals on why he does everything, leading her to chase after him to hear more. Most underestimate him, but when the chips are down, they reveal their respect for his humble wisdom.
    Current Reading List: Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider, Sonic The Hedgehog, Absolute Carnage, Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man, Gwenpool Strikes Back, Runaways, The White Trees

  14. #14
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Taylor View Post
    Spider-Man is not The Great Gatsby
    The Great Gatsby is a work of realistic fiction, it doesn't have archetypal characters in the "Are you a Jay or a Nick" sense.

    The analogy with this thread is the expectation of Spider-Man wanting to fit with the rest of the Marvel Universe and its large team driven stories, as opposed to finding value and worth in the small stakes single hero and supporting cast world of Peter and his family and friends. That's similar to Jay Gatsby spending so much time trying to find acceptance by high society when he would have been happier and done more had he accepted and loved himself for what he was. That's the whole irony of Jay being told, far too late, "You're better than the whole damn bunch put together". And lest people argue with me, Ta-Nehisi Coates used this quote that way when he wrote his mega-profile on Obama (right at the start in case you don't want to read the whole thing).

    I think fans who want or expect Spider-Man to have that vaunted status, and believe me I've been there, are missing the point. The entire logic and idea is sham to start with, counter to the principles of quality storytelling, and potentially dehumanizing and cruel in the values it inculcates.

    If we apply the mentality of status in the marvel universe in that if you're not the Big Three you are a loser (which is more Randian than Ditko) to real life it would amount to saying that only Seal Team Six counts, the ordinary infantryman doesn't measure up, the cop doesn't measure up, the First Responder doesn't measure up. And that attitude is absolutely not true in real life. Nobody thinks Seal Team Six are greater than the first responders who risked and lost their lives after arriving at Ground Zero.

    We accept that there's different kinds of heroism, according to context and situation.

    If we look at what we consider to be Marvel's best stories -- The Galactus Trilogy, the Dark Phoenix Saga, Daredevil Born Again, not all of them are really Marvel-wide stories. The first is a cosmic story set in a single super-team, the second is a cosmic story set in a slightly larger team but with very human and personal stakes, in fact a tragic love story...while Daredevil Born Again is about the importance of a single lawyer having his life wrecked and still not losing hope and having a very human and moving love story with Karen Page, two flawed people forgiving each other and becoming better personally despite not really winning or recovering by the end of the story. Daredevil Born Again is about the humanity of Matt Murdock and why a slum of Hell's Kitchen matters even if it's insignificant in the cosmic stakes of the Avengers.

    So even on a quality level, it's not a given that these big team stories are in fact core to Marvel.

    But I don't really think you could call Batman a high profile character in the comics.
    Around the late 90s maybe but not when Grant Morrison wrote JLA. He was elevated to "most dangerous man in the comics", a funder and backer of the league and others, likewise founder of super-teams like the Outsiders, also built the Brother-Eye Satellite that caused a mess and is constantly considered a feared, respected, dude in the DC superhero community.

  15. #15

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    This is a weird thing about Spider-Man, but the character works better when he doesn't get respect in-universe.

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