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Spiderman, the rise of Peter Parker

In New York, a teenager acquires superpowers during a strange incident involving a spider. Under the identity of Spiderman, he decides to fight crime, and this plunges him into countless adventures in which he meets the Avengers and has to save the world many times over in the Marvel universe.

Every teenager's dream

Peter Parker appears to us as a nerdy teenager with little respect from his peers, orphaned and living with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. One day he gets bitten by a radioactive spider from a scientific experiment... and becomes a superhero. Isn't this the dream of every teenager who has doubts, encounters his physical limits and discovers that the real world isn't magic?

This was undoubtedly the dream of the creators of Spider-Man: the legendary Stan Lee and his sidekick Steve Ditko. Stan Lee is famous for having created so many superheroes, including Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor and the X-Men. The Spiderman character appeared in 1962 during the Silver Age of Comic Books. Spiderman's great innovation was to turn a teenager into the main protagonist, whereas until then teenagers had been relegated to the role of assistant, like Robin for Batman.

The hero's responsibilities

The main theme of Spiderman's adventures is summed up in the famous phrase uttered by his Uncle Ben: "With great power comes great responsibility". It perfectly symbolises adolescence, when the individual realises that he possesses strength and intelligence, but also that his actions have short-, medium- and long-term consequences.

For Spiderman, this realisation is all the more important because his powers exceed those of a normal human... of course. His seminal incident was the death of his Uncle Ben, killed by a criminal whom Peter Parker had carelessly let get away. He realises that he can never let criminals go and that he cannot stand idly by in the face of injustice.

The power of the spider

The inspiration for Spiderman came from the hero "Spider", a mere mortal (but a rich millionaire) who wears scary costumes to fight crime. Hounded by the police because of his violence, he eventually develops a sixth sense that alerts him to danger.

In Spiderman's case, it is a genetic mutation that makes Peter Parker stronger and gives him his sixth sense directly. In theory, Spiderman's strength would be equivalent to that of a spider the same size as a human. In fact, arthropods and insects have enormous strength for their small size: the horned dung beetle is considered the champion, capable of lifting more than a thousand times its own weight!

In addition to his strength, Peter Parker has extraordinary agility and, above all, the ability to climb walls.

Depending on the version, his other "power" differs:

  • In the comics and cartoons, Peter builds a wrist device capable of weaving and pulling spider webs. He uses them to swing between the buildings of New York, or to catch criminals.
  • In the live-action films, Peter has special glands in his wrists that secrete and pull cobwebs.

Spiderman at the cinema, again and again

Following the success of films like Superman (by Richard Donner) and Batman (by Tim Burton), it was quickly decided to adapt Spiderman for the big screen. It was director Sam Raimi who took charge, giving the role to Tobey Maguire, in his film released in 2002. His lover, Mary Jane Watson, is played by Kirsten Dunst, while James Franco plays Harry Osborn, Peter Parker's friend and the son of Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), alias the Green Goblin, Spiderman's mortal enemy.

The film was particularly appreciated for its nuanced portrayal of the villain, the accurate performance of Tobey Maguire, and the highly successful special effects. Sam Raimi returned for Spiderman 2, starring Doctor Octopus, alias Otto Octavius, played by Alfred Molina.

Unfortunately, the third opus was far less successful, no doubt because of the excessive number of characters, with the arrival of Venom, Eddy Brocke, Sandman and the return of the Green Goblin. What's more, Tobey Maguire completely missed out on the villainous version of Peter Parker, influenced by the symbiote that was to create Venom.

So it was decided to reboot the series and in 2012 Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man was released, with Andrew Garfield in the lead role. Then in 2017 came a new opus, "Spider-Man Homecoming" by Jon Watts, starring Tom Holland, another reboot. It's worth noting that Sony owns the exclusive rights to the Spider-Man universe, on condition that they release a film every five years. This promises many more sequels and reboots.

What's more, Spiderman also appears in the film Captain America: Civil War, where he leads a legendary duel against Captain America. Then there's the Avengers saga.