He's the world's favorite web-slinging superhero, practically the owner of the red and blue color combo, and the unofficial mascot of the world's largest entertainment companies. We all know Spider-Man, whether you love him or hate him, but let's be honest... you probably love him. But what makes Spiderman so special to millions of people around the world, and why is it that we rarely see this much support for the average comic book character? The truth is, there are probably a lot more answers than you think.
Peter Parker, also known as Spider-Man, has been apart of Marvel's roster of heroes since 1962 when he appeared in the comic book, Amazing Fantasy #15. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spiderman has since gone on to become one of the most recognizable and beloved characters in all of fiction. While you could argue that characters like Batman or Superman deserve this level of praise, what makes Peter Parker such an enjoyable character to observe is just how different he is from his fellow superheroes from Marvel and DC Comics alike.
Despite the iconic status of heroes like Batman, Aquaman, Superman, Wolverine, and many others, they're not exactly relatable. While it's easy to get engrossed in their stories, it's not easy to picture yourself in their shoes because you're probably not a multi-billionaire or an alien from Krypton, or a man who can control the ocean, you're just a person, and so is Spider-Man. Despite his powers, intelligence, and super abilities, what makes Spider-Man so special lies in his relatability, from every aspect of him down to the very suit he wears. Spider-Man's signature red and blue, skin tight suit is one of the very few costumes in the comic book world that covers the entire body. While that may seem insignificant, it makes it so that anyone of any race, any nationality, any gender can picture themselves in that suit because of just how much is concealed. In a world where the majority of superheroes are white men, seeing a noble role you could envision yourself in must have been a breath of fresh air for the children who grew up reading his comics. In 2011, the world would finally be introduced to the afrolatino Spider-Man that we've all come to know and love, Miles Morales, who has since starred in two movies, and his own video game. Spider-Man might just be a character to some, but to others, he's a beacon of hope for a more diverse era of entertainment.
Unlike the majority of superheroes, Spider-Man is someone you can relate to. There is just as much written about the life of Peter Parker as the life or Spider-Man. Peter isn't an orphaned billionaire or some kind of god, he's just a kid with the same problems as any other New York teenagers. He struggles with his relationships, finances, work life, he really is just a normal person. Even his villains are human (or at least used to be). Unlike other heroes, he doesn't always get the girl, he doesn't always succeed, he isn't universally adored. Thanks to tabloid publications like The Daily Bugle run by J. Jonah Jameson, Spider-Man is seen as a reckless vigilante instead of a superhero. Deep down, this is something that a lot of us can relate to, being despised by something you love so much and have worked so hard to protect. It's these little details that make Spider-Man's story so relatable, so human. It's easy to put yourself in the shoes of Spider-Man because on some level, we're all Spider-Man.
Even for those who don't read comic books, Spider-Man is still an ever-present figure in pop culture. Before there was a new Marvel movie coming out every other month, they were few and far between. For millions of people, the first interaction they had with the world of Marvel was at the movie theater in 2002, watching Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. Despite how critical people seem to be towards superhero movies nowadays, the Raimi Spider-Man trilogy is the one that people just can't bring themselves to hate. Does nostalgia have a part to play in this? Of course, but the movies also have so much genuine heart. Their rough-around-the-edges look add to their charm. Although The Amazing Spider-Man movies years later were not nearly as well received, they've since gained a cult following, it seems like people just can't bring themselves to hate Peter Parker. In 2018, the iconic character received his most critically acclaimed movie yet in the form of Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse, this time featuring Miles Morales as well as Peter B. Parker and Gwen Stacy. This eventually led to the first Academy Award for the iconic superhero.
On December 17th, 2021, after months of waiting, the world finally got to see the highly anticipated Spider-Man: No Way Home, the third installment in the Jon Watts trilogy. Even though it's been less than a month since the film's release, it has already made over $1.5 billion dollars, making it the 8th highest grossing movie of all time in less than four weeks.
Despite being created over half a century ago, it appears that we're currently living in the golden age of Spider-Man.