Thursday, 7 May 2015

[Spider-Man] The burglar didn't kill Uncle Ben - he killed Peter Parker instead

The story of Spider-Man is a beloved one, ingrained in the public consciousness by filmmakers keen on repeating it again and again. Nerdy Peter Parker is bit by a radioactive spider and gains spider powers. He tries to use his powers for material gain by becoming a wrestler, but his kind Uncle Ben is shot and killed by a burglar that he had earlier failed to stop. Heeding Uncle Ben's words that "with great power come great responsibility", Peter turns to masked vigilantism.

Did kindly Uncle Ben really die that night? Or could the true victim of that crime have been Peter Parker?

It is interesting that in every version of the Spider-Man tale, there is a very sudden jump in tone, from the gritty and realistic depiction of Peter's pre-superhero life to his amazing and fantastical actions as Spider-Man. We know that there are such things as radioactive spiders (though they are more likely to harm rather than give you super powers). It's perfectly reasonable to suggest that Peter Parker was bitten by such a spider and was later inspired to become a wrestler by this event.

None of Peter Parker's early feats are particularly unrealistic either. He believes himself to be much more agile (potentially a result of the radioactive bite) and like many he believes himself to have psychic powers. His career as a wrestler does not find much success though, so at this point we can safely rule out superhuman powers.

Then Uncle Ben dies. Or does he? With this spurring him on, Peter suddenly develops web shooters (depending on comics or film, they are either astounding inventions he creates or genetic mutations) as well as the sewing ability to instantly design and create his own superhero costume. He immediately fights incredible villains such as the Green Goblin and the Sandman instead of such down to earth foes we saw earlier such as the burglar.

On one side, we have gritty realism. Then a death. Then amazing fantasy.

Is it not more reasonable to suggest that Uncle Ben did not die that night, and instead the burglar’s bullet found young Peter Parker? His impossible adventures of Spider-Man could very well be the last thoughts he has as he lays dying, or alternately he could be a ghost. Spider-Man can somehow swing through the city, his webs seemingly attached to nothing. Could he be using his ghostly flying powers, or are his webs attaching to the clouds of heaven? Spiders don't have psychic powers or shoot webs from their arms so it is unlikely he actually got those powers from a spider, but perhaps they could be simulated by ghost powers.

After this point, Peter Parker doesn't interact with Uncle Ben, indicating they are now on different planes of existence. If Uncle Ben is dead, then who is making all the rice? Peter does speak to Aunt May and Mary-Jane though. Are they in his imagination? Are these one-sided conversations a la The Sixth Sense? Or could the burglar have continued his dark rampage of terror that night, murdering poor Aunt May before running down the street to gun down Mary-Jane?

Like many ghosts, Spider-Man cannot rest until justice is done. But will he ever find justice for his own murder if he cannot even recognise it?

1 comment:

  1. Uh, Peter Parker as Spider-Man let the criminal escapes and was never there when the burglar shot Uncle Ben! What made you think that?

    ReplyDelete

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