Who’s your favorite superhero? More than likely you barely had to think about it before you answered. It doesn’t matter if you are a casual fan or a die-hard fan. If you read the comics or just watch the movies and TV shows. Or if you are new to the superhero scene or not. Everybody has their favorite. You can’t walk out the door without seeing a Batman t-shirt or Superman tattoo. Marvel superheroes have become an integral part of the zeitgeist at this point. So much so that the Marvel Cinematic Universe might as well be a sure-fire icebreaker for a conversation with anyone. But who is the greatest of all? Well, that would be your friendly neighborhood Spider-man.
I have a bad habit of being skeptical of things everyone loves. Music, movies, comics… if someone tells me it’s amazing my first reaction is “really? Is it that amazing?” It’s annoying I know and I try to keep it in check but if there is one superhero that has caught that ire the most it’s Spider-man. Sure Batman is more likely the superhero I roll my eyes at most, but Spider-man takes a lot of ire because, on paper, I should love the guy. And let’s be honest on paper he should be a lot of our favorites. There a lot of us out there who openly admit to loving the web-slinger but there is also a large group who chose the big badasses of the comic world. The Batmans, the Supermans, the Captain Americas. Reasonably there are good reasons for people to enjoy other heroes, and people are allowed to love whoever they want… but this article is not written from a reasonable place so let’s talk why he should be our favorite.
Accessibility. Peter Parker is arguably the most accessible superhero secret identity of all time. He’s a kid who was just a regular nerd who happened to get superpowers from a radioactive spider. Not an alien, a billionaire, former soldier, mutant, god, or supernatural being. Just some kid. He is excited about his powers and is constantly trying to grasp the prospect that he is, in fact, a superhero now. He struggles with his newfound responsibilities and balancing them with going to class and keeping a job. He’s surprised when the supermodel likes him and is extremely excited at the prospect of being an Avenger. Being Spider-man is exhilarating for him, but also emotionally taxing. It’s not easy and he never pretends that its is. He struggles and he’s open about that in the narrative of the comic and/or movie. Parker’s most unrealistic personal trait is being incredibly smart. We can see ourselves in Peter, live through this fictional character and how it feels to become a superhero. He is the everyman of the superhero world. What’s another trait that grounds him in reality?
Imperfection. Peter Parker is amazingly and endearingly imperfect. He messes up, a lot. He tries to balance being Spider-man and a normal kid and fails. He literally tries to save his girlfriend and ends up accidentally killing her because he doesn’t understand his powers and panics. We are all imperfect. And we like to see that in our heroes. Or at least we should. Accepting the fact that even the strongest and bravest aren’t infallible makes it easier for the rest of us to soldier on. Characters like Spider-man show us that we can fail, epically so, and still be a bastion of good. A lot of us use comics and movies to escape from everyday issues, and when we see Peter bounce back from his struggles, it helps us all keep going. But the most important reason we love him is…
Fun. Spider-man is fun. Not in a dark brooding kick-ass way. Not in an overpowered demi-god way. Not in a foul-mouthed ultra-violent way. But in a light-hearted, passionate way. Peter Parker truly enjoys being Spider-man. Of course, there are moments when it becomes a lot to handle and he turns his back on his principles a bit (see the former paragraph…) but more often then not he finds so much happiness in helping people. He jokes and quips but doesn’t rely on vulgar terms or shock comedy to help it float. He somehow finds a line where he is both edgy but wholesome. We enjoy Peter as a person. He’s the kind of person you want to hang out with and you can see hanging out with you. Can’t really say that about Batman can you…
I have spent years resisting the fact that Peter Parker may be the most well-rounded character in comics. But it’s impossible to do anymore. The aforementioned reasons are plenty but to finish off this piece I’ll say the biggest reason he is one of my favorites now is… responsibility (no I will not be saying Uncle Ben’s quote). Many superheroes see their powers and mission as a burden or a requirement. I have to do this because of XYZ or whatever drives them. It’s not like that with Peter. He doesn’t have to. There isn’t a begrudging sense of servitude to a cause. Just a propensity to do the right thing. Which is what Peter Parker will always do. And what we should do… by admitting that Spider-man is our favorite superhero…
For more about Spidey check out our latest episode out now. Episode 17 is live on this website or on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Spotify. And follow the podcast and hosts on Twitter and Instagram at these usernames!
Hold Up A Sec- @holdupasecpod
P.S. This was the last episode we recorded before Alberto got married, make sure to tell him congratulations!