Does whatever a ‘man’ can: A tribute to Peter Parker
What defines a hero? The Man or the Spider?
I’ve never really told anyone this before and I thought this might be a good time and place to go into it.
Despite what many of you would think, I am not actually a Spider-Man fan.
You find that most people who are into superheroes are drawn to the spectacular side of things.
- The Fantasy Element
- The Costumes,
- The Superheroics
- The Fights,
- The Costumes,
- The Villains
- The Powers
- The Gadgets
- The team ups
All that good stuff.
PERSONALLY, I really couldn’t give a monkeys about that shit most of the time.
But I will say I have always been a Peter Parker fan. Again, I reiterate Peter Parker and not Spider-Man.
Over the course of this post, I will try to explain why and also shed light on what alot of people tend to miss out on.
Bo don’t know Diddly
You see, what you think you know about Peter Parker is generally incorrect but it’s not your fault, it’s Marvels.
Over the years, and as subtle as it may appear to the non-connoisseur, the cartoons and films we grew up on, have taken increasingly more liberties with his origin story.
Because of this,I believe, they have messed up translating across, some of the more fundamental elements of the character,
They have clearly done this to make him a more marketable product in order to better ‘sell’ the Spider-Man brand to you and I. I think it’s to his detriment though.
Infact the only reason I realised was because I was arguing with a friend over the details of his origins and when we checked, we realised we were BOTH wrong. We then kinda just scratched our heads wondering how we were both so far off the mark.
True Origins Lost in Translations
So I shall take you back to a single 11 page initial description of him, which was released many moons ago, in a comic called Amazing Fantasy 15.
If you don’t believe anything you read by me, read the comic below and see how the events of his origin actually occurred. As far as I am aware this is one of the longest standing non-retconned origins stories, of any character in comics.
So now, let’s cut the bullshit
Peter Parker, while at times could be nice, is inherently an asshole.
I will explain this based on a conversation I had with someone recently.
Bevhaviours vs Personality
(EDIT: This bit is coming soon, it doesn’t add much and I can’t be arsed now, so with that, on with the show).
Urban Dictionary Asshole Description: Peter Parker
He was a highly intelligent person with an superiority complex, which he was unable to exert due to his natural physical disposition.
Whether this was his true nature or was developed by his nurturing is unknown, but it certainly developed to be his predominant self, by the fact he was regularly bullied and marginalised in school.
The only people he ever really showed any compassion for was his uncle and aunt. Even so, their love appears to be mostly one way.
At least three kind deeds were shown and Pete just smiled and accepted them all and never did anything back in kind, even when he got his powers. One could argue even though he meant well by his Uncle and Aunt in theory, his natural selfishness meant he ‘thought’ he was being a good kid, when actually, he could have been better.
Unlike most people who are bullied and feel fear and sadness, He cursed those who alienated him in school and forever thought of the day he would have the means to reap his revenge. He’s even heard saying
Some they I’ll show them,
Some day they’ll be sorry!
Sorry they laughed at ME!
I mean literally, this guy was one bad day away from buying a gun and going on a killing spree.
He also had very little compassion for people who served him no purpose. Even those he wished to engaged with, were quickly chastised, when he didn’t get what he wanted from them. In that respect, you could also accuse him of being somewhat selfish.
So as soon as you can imagine his initial elation when he got his powers.
When he got onto the juice, his goal wasn’t to immediately help people, or to try and win over any chick, like shown in the recent movies. His goal wasn’t even to make life easier for his Uncle and Aunt who had looked after him all these years.
His goal, was simply to make money and to get power over those who had suppressed him.
And this was all going great.
He went into the entertainment industry and loved the idea of those who tormented him during the day, worshiping him as a costumed entertainer at night. Even when he had it all, he was still pretty arsey to those around him.
He’s even caught thinking
The Rest of the World Can go Hang for All I care
This, alongside, his new confidence, fame, money and influence, certainly got to Parker, as he had no one to keep him grounded. He started to believe his own hype.
His new motif now was
I’m through being pushed around by everyone.
From Now On, I just look after Number One…
That means ME.
But as they always say, pride comes before a fall.
And we all know what happened next.
This isn’t how it’s gone down since though
Firstly, we never hear Parker thinking about his fellow man in such a manner. For all intense and purposes, Parker is clean and never had a vindictive bone in his body.
Then comes the variations in the circumstances that lead to him letting the Robber escape. We’ll explore a few of these in the next section.
What went down that night?
In the 2002 film mythology, apparently he was double crossed by the ring announcer not paying him money and that is why he let the robber get passed him, the robber that would eventually kill his uncle later on that evening.
Then this was retconned in the 3rd film so Uncle Ben would have died regardless because Flint Marko killed him, rendering the whole robber scene upstairs pointless (don’t get me started on this).
In the 2012 remake, he was denied the ability to purchase some milk because he didn’t have enough money (WTF). The clerk then makes a bit of a deal about it (to be fair, he’s in the right though). Peter then saw the robber empty out the till when the clerk’s back was turned and the robber threw him the milk before leaving. So just to clarify, Peter let his uncle die because he was pissed he was 2p short for some milk.
Yes, seriously, this is the best they could come up with.
I’ve also heard many other version of events, like the wrestling match didn’t last the full three minutes so Parker didn’t get his money, or Parker was considered a kid and therefore didn’t get an adults wage from the announcer.
All in all, it’s pretty much the same in 99% of the Spider-Man media released to date. The new message Marvel wants us to buy into is…
Parker was screwed over FIRST
Whether it was by someone going back on their word or making fun of him, the resounding motif is THIS is why he didn’t stop the robber.
We are led to believe if he hadn’t been screwed over, he would have done the right thing and his uncle would still be alive today.
This guys…is a mother fucking
George Lucas Sized
and I’ll tell you why it is.
Cold Dose of Reality
Now in the comics, as you saw from above, Spider-Man was doing fine and had no qualms with his agent, or the wrestling announcer, or the TV studios. As you would imagine, he was making these guys a ton of cash, so why would they screw him over?.
If fact, no one screwed him over at all.
Not once in the entire comic
He was actually too busy being a ass fudge and let the robber run right passed him. He thought he was too important to deal with lowly criminals, highlighting, his original superiority complex has now mutated out of control
But that point is key to the next bit.
Without the inherent selfish aspect of his personality, these modern depictions make him seem more like a victim of circumstance.
Having Peter Parker screwed over first, means his actions were vengeful, not self-centred, as it was originally depicted..
He was simply being an agent of Karma
Because of this, it becomes a relatable tragedy, as we’ve all done rash things in the eye of the storm. It’s a very human trait and to be honest, it’s unavoidable.
So from the perspective of the viewer, he gets a by. The announcer/manager/store clerk deserved it after all.
The event that lead up to his Uncle’s death is just an unavoidable accident. No more avoidable than getting a flat tyre.
We watch it unfold, thinking it’s just so unfortunate how things have transpired for Peter. The poor guy, we all sigh.
But these new renditions couldn’t be farther from the truth.
And ultimately dilute the message behind the story itself.
What Killed Uncle Ben
Peter Parker was 100% responsible for the death of his uncle. It was the embodiment of a lifetime of repressed passive aggressiveness that lead to events unfolding, as they did.
This is all because, like I said right at the beginning, He is an inherent asshole.
Peter is not a victim like Batman or Superman or the x-men or the Hulk. Heck even most of spideys villains are victims, like the lizard, doctor octopus and the green goblin. Peter definitely isn’t though.
The problem is, clearly Marvel saw this as a ‘bad thing’ since pretty much all their other heroes, started off good, like reed richards, captain america, bruce banner etc. Unlike Parker, they were all model citizens BEFORE they got their powers.
So they changed Peter as much as they could to fit that mould.
The thing is, he NEEDS to be an inherent asshole for the crescendo of the story to have any real weight.
Just like Scrooge needs to be an asshole at the beginning of a Christmas Carol for his redemption to have an impact.
We shouldn’t feel sorry for him, we should think he’s a dick but are willing to give him a chance to make things right, because he fessed up to it, and everyone deserves a second chance.
In essence the entire Spider-Man story is
nothing more than
one long redemption arc.
You see, when Parker realises it was his asshole gene that caused all of this, he was inconsolable and this is what led him to change his ways.
This is what sets him out from the rest.
This is what makes him so special
This is what makes his uncle’s words resonate so much with him.
Because that’s when Parker receives his greatest power of all.
Everything in these few panels is ultimately what Spider-Man boils down to.
- Managing the consequences of not acting when you should.
- Managing the guilt of not keeping your ego in check
THAT IS THE REASON why I LOVE PETER PARKER.
HE is the one who manages the power
HE is the one who manages the responsibility
HE is the one who manages these burdens,
HE is the one who manages the guilt
His new set up
Now the thing is, even after all this, Parker should still be inherently an asshole, that is his Personality trait, he can’t change that and from a narrative point of view, it wouldn’t make sense to either.
After all it was his deeds, not his words that got him into this predicament in the first place.
But Because of this guilt, Parker did two things.
He changed the behaviours of his Peter Parker persona, making him a more responsible man in society and around the house with regards to his Aunt May. He picked up where his uncle left off, got a proper job and would go without food to make sure his Aunt was taken care of. He would no longer wish ill against his fellow man or pursue fame and fortune, instead settling for a humble existence.
He also changed the behaviours of his Spider-Man persona, retiring from showbiz and using it as a role to do ‘community service’, in order to try and repent for his previous wrong doings.
So now in a sense there are three Parker Personas at work, somewhat similar to the Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El dynamic.
We now have,
His private guilt-tainted conscience true asshole self
His suppressed passive good-natured public Peter Parker front
His community service hated no bonus pay Spider-Man front
However, there is a weird dynamic going on with these three.
While his conscience is always present in the background, Both his personality fronts are stress relief periods for the other.
His Peter Parker front is a stress relief from being Spider-Man. For going out, night after night and doing what he thinks is right, even when he knows he could be making tons of cash. It’s his little break from trying to make amends to society and to his Aunt, with his powers.
His Spider-Man front is also a stress relief from being this new Peter Parker. Before the bite, Parker’s natural attitude was bad enough, because he couldn’t do anything about it. Now it’s even worse because he can. He’s had a taste of the fabulous life and now he knows he’s not allowed back, not because he can’t but because he won’t. Worse off, he still needs to let everyone treat him like crap to keep his identity a secret.
Because he has to bite his tongue more often now, he takes out his daily frustrations, by sharing the blunt end of his arrogant and quick witted outlook on his superpowered foes, using it mostly to his advantage during a confrontation.
This is one of the few times he gets to be free, cut loose and be the inherent asshole he truly is, and it works a treat.
There’s no doubt about it, most of his rogue’s gallery fucking despise him as a person. It’s one of the first instances in comics where they hate him so much, they band up to take him down. Not just one or two either but SIX Big Bad Motherfuckers.
What a testament to his shitty personality that must be.
I mean he’s like Katie Hopkins on radioactive crack.
As Oscar wild once said
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.
Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth
Or as I would say
Put on a mask on a man and he will show you his true self.
And I think this is very poignant in this case.
Where’s the pay off?
Another point is also that he does all of this without any reward.
A lot of people don’t really realize that Spide-Man isn’t a well loved celebrity in the hero world. The public adoration shown for him in Spider-Man 2, the Parade and Key to the city he gets in Spider-Man 3 and the Fan wank tributes he gets from new york in Amazing Spider-Man 3 are completely out of character.
He is actually hated, and generally despised by a large part of the general public. He is right at the bottom feeding end of the superhero list, a complete and utter Z-lister. He wishes he can join famous groups like the Fantastic Four or the Avengers, they’re the ones the people love, not him.
He regularly saves people who sell slander stories to the press about him and the whole city thinks he’s a menace. Even for the longest time, his last surviving relative, Aunt May was a convinced Spider-Man hater too.
Arguably, his greatest enemy J Jonah Jameson, created a successful smear campaign against him. Ironically, it helps Parker notice and accept the majority of his efforts are in vain and no reward will ever come of it, apart from the odd thank you once in a while.
Here’s the thing though, he doesn’t need one. Parker does this off his own back, he’s never asked or expected anything from it.
He is the unsung, blue-collared, charity worker of the superhero world.
That’s another thing that separates him from the rest.
Why do we do what we do?
A lot of us adhere to belief systems that suggest there are rewards for doing good things and penalties for doing bad things.
Whether these are promotions at work for doing good shit or Jail time for robbing someone. It’s all the same.
On the grandest scale, using religion as the ultimate example, doing good or bad things is ultimately the difference between ending up in a heaven and a hell.
This is what keeps the majority of us in that middle ground and deters many from doing bad things and motivates others to make the world a better place. If we didn’t have these poles to keep us in balance, alot of us would believe the world would descend into complete anarchy.
So we generally keep doing good things to keep the rewards coming our way.
However, there is no endgame final prize for Peter, he will never reach his heaven.
He will never get his uncle back or those years he wasted being a fuckwit.
He will never be a be able to right the wrongs of his past.
He will never be able to rid himself of his guilt, his powers or his responsibilities.
He is forever lost.
But even though there’s no reward, he still keeps going.
The very worst thing is, while trying to balance out this atonement, Parker has pushed those closest to him away.This was mostly to protect them from coming into harm’s way, like what happened with his Uncle Ben.
At points in his life, he has tried, to let people into his lives.
Infact, in the very first instant where he believed he could trust someone, to come along for the ride…
Bitch gets killed.
Gwen Stacy was the first major love interest in comics to be killed and controversially by the hands of the hero as well. Imagine how that must feel.
Actually it couldn’t have felt that bad, Parker actually has a bad habit of killing women but again, that’s something for another post.
So now he has to handle the initial guilt of his uncle’s death, alongside the guilt of his soul mate’s death, all with the sobering reality, he has to go through this whole ordeal alone.
Does he stop? Does he FUCK!
He carries this, along with the burdens of his regular and superhero lives, and continues to strive forward.
They died for your sins
Peter isn’t exactly shy to losing loved ones because of his actions as Spider-Man.
Infact throughout the course of the comics, he managers to FUBAR with regards to his best friend, his kid, his twin clone brother, his aunt, heck, he’s pretty much fucked over everyone at some point, even himself!!!
Parental Figures – Aunt May
Child – Mayday Parker
Sibling – Ben Reilly
Spouse – Gwen Stacy
In-laws – George Stacy
Mentor– Ezekiel Sims
Best Friend – Harry Osborn
Himself – Ultimate Universe Spider-Man
Referencing all of these would have made an interesting narrative for a future story but they didn’t have the balls to follow through with a lot of these and most have been ret-conned. Oh well.
So yeah, this initial arse wipe of a character and his wonderful potential to have it all but instead chooses to have nothing, all because of his guilt, and his will to keep moving forward despite all his losses and limited wins, has gripped me for nearly 3 whole decades.
It’s quite remarkable when you look at it like that, and it certainly makes you understand why he is leaps and bounds above the regular 2-dimensional characters from this genre.
Despite all his flaws, he’s just a bag of win.
My Favourite Spider-Man Moment EVER
One of my favourite scenes of Spider-Man of all time comes from my favourite story written about him over this millennium.
It’s called Coming Home and was written by J.Micheal Straczynski back in 2001. In fact the series won an Eisner, which is a comic version of the Oscars, it was that fucking good.
The gist is that some nasty bastard is on his way to kill him, faster than Nick Clegg’s dignity departure after this interview from last election.
The only entity who’s managed to elude this force of nature, Ezekiel, contacts Peter and offers him sanctuary. Peter refuses and tells him with Great Power comes Great responsibility. Ezekiel then asks him what comes with Great Responsibility?
Peter Hesitates for a second..
Ezekiel then begs him to take his offer and claim something back for all the good he’s done. He tells him it’s about time he starts looking out for Number One.
What happened next literally blew my mind
Remember Folks, that’s Peter Parker being Badass, Not Spidey 😉 . Still, I’ve yet to find a more concise piece of literature that defines him ,or how much he has developed as a character. To top it off, what does he get for all his troubles.
I dunno, I know I may be kinda arty farty but this kinda personal growth is a power within itself. But it is a power that makes Parker weak and it is the overcoming of this weakness, that I personally find, is his most interesting strength.
His damage limitation.
And ultimately what he believes he is gaining from all his actions. He will obviously never be as happy as when he first got his powers and all he goodhe does will never bring back his lost ones, especially his Uncle.
But he still finds a way to try and make the best of the chips he’s dealt. He never cracks under the pressure and just keeps moving forward, even with nothing to gain and faced with death itself.
What I take from it all
When we all look at our lives,we’ve all had at least one colossal fuck up that we wish we could go back in time and erase. We’ve let people we care about down, and worst of all, we’ve let ourselves down too
If we’re being honest with ourselves, we’d also admit we aren’t doing as much with this life as we could be.
What do we do with this knowledge? Fuck all.
But Parker fights on irregardless.
His greatest rival,
His greatest enemy,
is simply life itself.
He is a daily-grind slugger. God knows, he’s been dealt so many knock out blows, but yet he still stands and still pushes forward, not for his own benefit but for ours.
If we put as much gusto in the battle, to just get through the day, as he did…. I dunno…
Is making the world a safer place at the cost of yourself truly worth it. Or are we all just like parker, lost from the start, destined to never find peace.
I guess we’ll have to buy the next chapter to find out..
Actually I can’t keep up the pretense anymore, I got into Spidey because he shared my love of being fisted and chronic masturbation.
The notion is right, it’s always the quiet ones you should look out for…
FISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES!!!
THEY’RE STANDING ON THEIR OWN TWO FEET…
ELBOW-DEEP in HIS SHHHHEEEET