On Spiderman

Spider-Man No More

Moral Responsibility, the Morose Hero, and His Web of Relationships
By Brett Chandler Patterson

One image I remember most from Spider-Man 2 is a movie poster. Perhaps it made an impression on you, too. For me the poster encapsulates a number of the central themes of the Spi-der-Man mythology. Peter Parker, dressed as Spider-Man, his back turned to us, is standing on top of a tall building overlooking the city. We notice that Peter holds his mask in his right hand, and we wonder if he is about to put it on, or if he is about to toss it away. Above the picture is the word “Choice.” In the context of the film, the poster has greater weight because we know that the story portrays a moment in which Peter Parker decides to give up being Spi-der-Man. The film follows the results of this choice and ultimately reveals that Peter cannot so easily abandon his crime-fighting persona. The movie poster and the film are both about what drives the Spider-Man mythology–the heart of which lies in the oft-repeated phrase “with great power there must also come great responsibility.” Choice and responsibility go hand in hand, and Peter Parker finds that he is haunted by both. Peter faces insecurities, doubts, temptations, and guilt as he tries to live the best life he can. He is a superhero, but Stan Lee gave us a new twist, for Peter is a morose hero. There are times that he, like anyone of us, wishes to escape the burdens of his responsibilities, and the stories that explore Peter’s  …

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