3 Reasons Why You Should Let Your Spider-Man Go

There’s something we Spider-Man fans should accept.

We’ve all seen the teaser in the Captain America: Civil War trailer and hoped this would finally be our Spider-Man. Our Spider-Man is the one we loved, whether it was the 60’s cartoon, the 90’s cartoon, or the comics in the 60’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s, or the Ultimate series, or the Sam Raimi movies, or the Marc Webb movies. But we need to let our Spider-Man go. Here’s why.

1. There Are Many Versions

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My Spider-Man was the 90’s comics version. Awhile back I got rid of some of my comics including my Spidey collection. I called some local comic shops and learned that in the 90’s they printed so many comics that my collection was nearly valueless – some refused to take my comics at all. So I donated them to charity with the hope that a child would love Spidey like I did.

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Whoever picks up those comics, that will be their Spider-Man. For someone else, their Spider-Man is the 90’s animated series version, or the symbiote-suit-wearing version, or the Ultimate version, Miles Morales, or even … the Andrew Garfield version.

As a North American comic property, Spider-Man belongs to all of us because his story never ends.

 

2. Spider-Man is About Overcoming Failures

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It’s not just the web-crawler’s Everyman nature, or his real world problems that are just like our problems. The heart of Spidey is his gargantuan failures and his resolve to right them. Other comic heroes falter, but mostly they are more “super” and less “human.” Of himself Spidey says, “I’m just a man! And men have to make choices. Yeah, make them … and then live with them.” [Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #363] So as long as the heart of the character remains true we should let go of the rest of our quibbles, because there are simply too many versions of Spidey to satisfy.

Think back to some the most gripping stories (possible comic story spoilers from here on out). Like when Spidey revealed to the world he was Peter Parker and Aunt May was shot by a gunman sent by the Kingpin.

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More than the “Back in Black” series the driving force behind the story was Peter taking responsibility for Aunt May, and trying to make the world safe for his loved ones.

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Or during the clone saga when Peter hit his pregnant wife. He abandoned being Peter Parker entirely and joined the Jackal – so ashamed he was convinced he was a villain.

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And of course, his greatest failure when he “saved” Gwen Stacy on the Golden Gate Bridge, but her sudden stop from his webline may have inadvertently snapped her neck.

Right, wrong, and justice are different for each super hero. What makes the web-crawler’s choices for these moral lines so compelling is when they are challenged by a harrowing incident. Spidey screws up and then suffers more because his pain is overshadowed by his sense of responsibility. This is what humanizes him. This is why generations of fans identify with him, because his failures are far worse than ours could ever be. And by watching him resolve his monumental mistakes, we solve his problems together.

 

3. Spider-Man is Timeless

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As long as this new Spider-Man showcases Spidey making terrible mistakes and striving to fix them we should be satisfied. Not lament another missed opportunity to tell a good Black Cat story, or worry about his costume, or that the tone of the humour isn’t quite right. Would you tell your child he or she was wrong for liking this new Spidey? Give a lecture on who the character is supposed to be, while citing examples from your preferred fiction? Or would your heart swell that you could share your hero with them?

Now I’m not saying you can’t criticize the movie if it fails at storytelling, or has other quibbles. What I’m suggesting is that you don’t demand to see the Spidey you fell in love with on the big screen. Because Spider-Man is a gift to all of us. A shared idea of what it is to be a hero so that we might be heroic in our own ways. Clinging on to our Spider-Man destroys that shared possibility.

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