EDITORIAL: Peter Parker - The Still Relate-able Spider-Jerk

EDITORIAL: Peter Parker - The Still Relate-able Spider-Jerk

The Amazing Spider-Man brought us a drastically different Peter Parker. Can we still relate to this Spider-Jerk?

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By GoodGuy - 12/2/2012
Rebooting the franchise just 5 years after the last Spider-Man film was made, the most crucial thing that Sony and Marc Webb had to do was create a fresh take on the character that was worthy of the audience's view - especially considering that an excellent Spider-Man film had more than familiarized most people with his origin story no longer than 10 years ago. While admittedly some changes are done for simply for change's sake instead of the exploration of new aspects, other changes can be viewed as necessary in isolating this film franchise and helping it create an identity of its own. We got: a new suit, a new main love interest, and even a new back story. But perhaps one of the most radical changes from previous incarnations that many people are divided on, is the different Peter Parker.

In contrast to the mild mannered, extremely nerdy, and instantly likable Peter Parker in the Sam Raimi movies; we are given an outcast, imperfect,and misunderstood one in The Amazing Spider-Man. This Peter Parker is more of an acquired taste. Though he has some redeeming qualities, he doesn't always learn his lessons and has many foolish tendencies.Simply put, he isn't quite the ideal hero that many of us want him to be.

Because of this new approach to Peter Parker, we are prompted to ask many questions. Has this movie lost sight of the essence of Peter Parker? Can the audience still empathize with such a flawed and naive character? Is Peter Parker a jerk?

Depending on your conception of the character, you could say that yes Peter Parker's has become an unrelatable and arrogant jerk especially due to his inclination to do dumb things. Personally, I view this rendition of Peter Parker in a different way. I don't think that the essence of Spider-Man - his relatbility - was lost. In fact it's still there, except it plays out in a very different way. While I don't necessarily think that some of his tendencies are ever justified, I think that his "jerkiness" can be alleviated when looked at in a different way.

To me, Sam Raimi's Peter Parker/Spider-Man exemplifies what the character was intended to thematically represent. He is the super-heroic nerd whose abilities don't exempt him from his human problems. We relate to him because he endures experiences and hardships that we ourselves are very much prone to. Despite being like us, he also serves as a source of inspiration because he constantly acts as the person that we all want to be - the heroic and selfless underdog who is willing to give up what he wants the most,

Marc Webb's Peter Parker, on the other hand, isn't as easy to empathize with. He is more foolish and naive than previous incarnations. He isn't quite the man of integrity whom we can learn from through his innate virtues. However, that's how I think we can identify with this Peter Parker - through his flaws.

As human beings it is simply our nature to be flawed; and Spider-Man won't be an exception. I think we can all relate to the fact that we won't always make the right decision, or that we won't always correctly use the power we're given, or that we sometimes need something drastic to drive us to learn our lessons, or even that we can irrationally push away the Aunt Mays in our life . When we see these moments unfold, and if we relate to it, I think that we can better examine ourselves. We become more self critical because when we see our ugly side play out on screen and we recognize it, we strive to be better. Because of this, it is easy to understand that this Peter Parker is still accessible because he isn't perfect and makes the same mistakes that we might make ourselves.

So, do these flaws give Peter the right to be a jerk? Absolutely not. But if one views Spider-Man like I do - a tragic hero - then Peter Parker looks a lot less like an antagonistic character.

At this point, it is almost a known fact that Spider-Man is a character that is defined by his tragedies and that Marc Webb is possibly planning on following suit by killing Gwen Stacy in a later sequel. Like a lot tragedies in literature, the tragic hero isn't always viewed as a jerk due to the mistakes he makes. This is because the audience knows that the hero causes his/her own downfall due to being blinded by his/her hamartia or fatal flaw. Spider-Man's tragedy doesn't seem to stray to far from this.In The Amazing Spider-Man, I see that his broken promise to Captain Stacy is the start of his undoing in a later story that is a result of his tragic flaws of hubris and doting Gwen. When you don't equate flaws with "being a jerk", it is easier to see Spider-Man this way. Granted, it is a bit too much to break a promise to an older and wiser man, but there are other tragic heroes who have done similar things. The only exception is that they aren't necessarily viewed as jerks.

But then again, maybe it's because I'm a teenager myself that I try to find justification in foolishness that I am prone to. Maybe my own naivety clouds my judgement. Who knows? But I will admit one thing. If this is the case and what I said was true, then Marc Webb could have made it more apparent instead of someone having to try and find justification for erratic behaviour.

However, for now, I tend to see that this isn't a Peter Parker we can learn from,but rather, he is the Peter Parker that we can learn with along the way. Like anyone else, this Peter Parker will make mistakes that come from his flawed nature. Rather than trying to tell us to find our inner good, I think that this Peter Parker helped us examine our imperfections better.


What did you think of my article? Thumbs up and comment if you like it! If you don't or disagree, then any constructive criticism or opinions are welcome! Thank you for reading!
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GoodGuy - 12/2/2012, 5:16 PM
Thanks for the comment!

Yeah Garfield's Parker is kind of an acquired taste. I guess I liked his performance because that's how I conceived Peter Parker while reading Ultimate Spidey. I hope they go for a more 616 happy and mature Pete in the sequel though.
Jollem - 12/2/2012, 6:31 PM
i can see where people might think peter is a jerk. i don't think so, tho. he might not act like a puritan at times, but he is not wholly a jerk

i think webb's and garfield's peter is a current, realistic teenager; with emotions and hormones and wants and needs. families fight, man. it's not Leave it to Beaver, Andy Griffith Show families out there. he wasn't "yelling" at may and ben because he is mean and it gave him pleasure to do so

if someone really thinks peter is a jerk...well then, stay inside your house or current shelter, because there's people out there in the world vastly more horrible than garfield/webb's parker

he is also not a jerk for messing with the CRIMINAL CAR-JACKER
Jollem - 12/2/2012, 7:12 PM
@BattlinMurdock - if peter broke all of the car-jacker's fingers and laughed about it, i would call him a jerk

the part where peter gets rushed by the hoodlums--he is enraged by ben's death but chooses not to beat a group of people unconscious when he could have easily done so. he chooses to not let the one dude drop to the street

good point about the justifying. i acknowledge he is a bit jerky sometimes (teenagers and older folks are, usually), but not in the way where people should get all "nancy grace" about it or faint on a couch because of it
GoodGuy - 12/2/2012, 7:33 PM
I actually have no justification for the car thief scene. I guess it's just a teenager being a teenager. Not exactly the kind of Spider-Man we want huh?

But I hope he learns to be different because I view him as the Spider-Man we can learn with and it shows progression and maturation. I've always been fascinated by the journey from immature boy to full on hero that Raimi did pretty damn well.
DrHorrible - 12/2/2012, 7:49 PM
Excellent editorial. I agree with you 100%.

It's not the same world it was 10 years ago. Hell, even 5 years ago. People, teenagers in particular, have changed in the way they do things and make decisions on a daily basis. I'm surprised there wasn't any cussing, to be honest. Teenagers cuss like sailors these days (just kidding...I think...).

I may be in my later years of college, but I still remember being a teenager. To make stupid decisions, to act irrationally and be disrespectful to others at times. It's a part of life and how people REALLY act. This isn't a happy-go-lucky "Raindrops keep falling on my head" type of world. It's tough and people don't always make the right decisions all the time, which can come to bite a person in the ass later on. It's happened to me plenty of times.

Raimi's Peter/Spidey seemed to make all, or most of, the right decisions the majority of the time, except for giving up Spider-Man for his own SELFISH (sound familiar?) needs. It just seemed odd to me.

Like I've said, the world of today is vastly different from the one 10 years ago. This Peter/Spidey, to me, seems to be more realistic than the Raimi version, which just seemed like the Spider-Man of the '60s trapped in a modern world.

I'm pretty sure we'll see some maturation in this Peter and his progression to full on hero, having learned from his mistakes.

But like some say, I could just find this Peter's behavior "easy to justify."
GoodGuy - 12/2/2012, 8:16 PM
Thanks guys!

The way I see it is that Marc Webb focused more on what made Spider-Man an actual teenager rather than what made the Peter Parker character. He still had the core and he (understandably) focused on other aspects of the person.
Some people liked this and some didn't and I understand the reasons for both.

I think we all find it easy to justify him because he's the heroic character we grew up with and loved. I also understand why people hated this Peter even though he was a realistic teenager ; teenagers like me are hard to like especially when older people see our general sense of entitlement and lack of morals.

Either way, bring on the sequel.

CaptainAmerica31 - 12/2/2012, 8:32 PM
I think he was a jerk becasue well he didn't know what he was. Peter in 2002 is a jerk when he gets his powers to Ben until he dies. In TASM he Is a jerk after his death but that's only becasue he doesn't get the whole meaning of what uncle Ben is talking about till the end in the voice message.
WesleyGibson - 12/2/2012, 9:13 PM
I hated this Parker...he was SUCH a dick.
Preston - 12/2/2012, 9:58 PM

It was this moment that Peter Parker learned his lesson. He acted irresponsible, and he lost Uncle Ben:


A legend is born with the death of Uncle Ben, he learns that, “In this world, with great power there must also come -- great responsibility.”


Spider-Man's responsibility (to do the right thing) is based on guilt.

^^^ Gwen blames Spider-Man for the death of her father; she goes to the grave with that hatred towards Parker. He feels responsible as well for the Captain's death.

^^^ Even though he tried to protect Gwen, never revealing his Spider-identity, he was unable to keep her safe as he promised Captain Stacy.

^^^ His guilt leads him to take responsibility for the death of Gwen even-though it was the Goblin's fault.

Peter is always consumed with the guilt of losing Uncle Ben; it's the setup given to the character in his origin. The guilt is what makes him act responsibly.
Jollem - 12/3/2012, 12:50 AM
dr. ratha was a jerk, peter was a teenager
Preston - 12/3/2012, 7:53 AM

I not once used the word grief. I said guilt.

Noun: Deep sorrow, esp. that caused by someone's death.

Noun: The fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.

There is a difference. Grief is something that is fleeting, guilt is something that you can't escape.
Preston - 12/3/2012, 8:04 AM
He grieved over the loss of Uncle Ben, however, he is guilty of not stopping the thief who later kills Uncle Ben. This guilt is what catapults him into using his gifts for unselfish reasons.

I think it's captured well here in his origin:

Wracked with guilt, he modifies his wrestling costume and dedicates his life to fighting crime.

'nuff said.
EdgyOutsider - 12/3/2012, 8:16 AM
I agree with this article. As I've stated before, part of the reason I love this movie more than the other three (I still love the other three though) is cause as a teenager myself, I can relate to Peter more than I can when Peter is an adult. Relatability is the biggest reason I fell in love with the character in the first place. He always felt like a real character and I guess in a way "the big brother" I never had. He is fictious, that is obvious and I'm not saying he didn't feel real in the original trilogy, cause he did. But, I like this one more because I can relate to him like I can when I read the comics, he has a good love story, the movie has an overall good story (although not really feeling like a stand alone story), a sub-plot that engages, stronger performances and (like in the other three movies, mostly the first two) a villain that is fun to watch both when evil and good.

I love the original Spider-Man trilogy and always will. But, while I do see why people love Spider-Man 2 so much, I do think people make it out to be more than it really is but it's all about opinion. I feel, The Amazing Spider-Man, is the best Spidey movie and probably won't be topped (in my opinion) until we get the Death of Gwen Stacy story, should it end up being a good movie and better than the ones before it. I won't say there isn't a little bit of biased for me when it comes to TASM cause, my favorite villain (username) is the bad guy and Rhys Ifans portrayed him to near perfection, had they given him more depth. I even made an article that, despite it's many flaws, it should be forgiven and is better than what most people think.

Great article :) hopefully, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will look and be good cause if it don't look good, I'm not seeing it. So, they better make Electro look like a villain worth seeing.
Preston - 12/3/2012, 8:21 AM

People riddled with guilt will spend the rest of their lives doing good deeds trying to make up for it (as atonement for their sins).

Preston - 12/3/2012, 10:34 AM

^^^ We'll ain't that strange?!?

^^^People riddled with guilt will spend the rest of their lives doing good deeds trying to make up for it (as atonement for their sins).

You are right that love is part of the mix, but guilt is the primary ingredient.

I don't think that he does it out of vengeance or rage like many other heroes. I think that it is out of love for those that he has lost that he feels a responsibility to use his powers for good. Plus, he takes responsibility for the deaths of everyone that he loves (see: Uncle Ben, Captain Stacy, Gwen, Silver Sable, etc).

He is a pretty 'guilt' ridden hero. If it wasn't for this guilt, he may have given up or used his powers for evil. I think that his 'guilt' is what makes him walk the right path.

We might be saying the same thing, but we might be going about it differently.

GoodGuy - 12/3/2012, 12:51 PM

Thanks for the comments and discussion. It was a pleasure reading insightful ways that both of you had analyzed him in.

Anyway, I'm not taking sides, but though I do think guilt is a big driving force in his quest for justice, I don't think it is what makes him continue his superhero role.

I may be wrong about this, but unlike Batman who is fighting the faceless enemy of crime because of something that had occurred in the past, Spider-Man continues because after Uncle Ben's death, he finally understands how great power and great responsibility are connected. I don't necessarily see him as metaphorically making up for mistakes, but rather trying to live the most meaningful life he can with the power he is given - and the responsibility that came with it.

If you read Amazing Spider-Man 500, he is greeted by uncle Ben's spirit on Peter's birthday and Ben tells Peter that he is proud of him and what he has done with his life. If Peter was mostly doing this out of guilt, wouldn't he be content to stop being Spider-Man after his uncle had given him his blessing.

Not saying you are wrong, Preston. In fact I think that my whole argument isn't even as rational as yours. But that's what I think is really nice about Spider-Man. We have conflicting views because the character isn't only limited to one conception.
Pending - 12/3/2012, 1:22 PM
There’s certain things about this Peter I can relate to but he's so contradicting to his own character and what he is that I couldn't get on board with it.

I feel Raimi's Peter was fleshed out a lot better and very consistent with his character throughout the film, and TASM Peter is just a clusterf*** of traits and emotions that didn't mesh well together.

Preston - 12/3/2012, 3:05 PM
Spider-Man feels compelled "to provide justice at every turn... That's the responsibility."

Sounds more like Dare Devil than Spider-Man.

Peter, as an angsty teenager, to just quit when he realizes that he failed to save Ben. Or, even worse, he becomes a super villain.
Here is where I think that his origin differs from that of many villains. Many villains and heroes had a traumatic event change the course of their lives.

For Example:
1). Magneto's family was gunned down in front of him by the Nazis. It set him on a path of vengeance against humanity.
2). Bruce Wayne's parents are gunned down in front of him as a child. It sets him on a path of vengeance against 'criminals who are a superstitious and cowardly lot.'
3). Punisher his family is gunned down by the mob. It sets him on a path of vengeance against criminals.

Spider-Man, however, is indirectly involved with the death of Uncle Ben. He could have prevented Uncle Ben's death. Unlike other heroes that are impacted by an action that they didn't cause, Parker shares responsibility for his lack of action.

It disregards what Ben says, “"With great power comes great responsibility."
Technically that quote is never spoken by Uncle Ben in the comic; it's spoken by the narrator [look at the panel]. In Amazing Fantasy #15, it's the narrator who says it. We can assume that the narrator is Stan Lee. It's what Peter feels inside from the guilt of not having stopped the burglar.

"But if you serve out of guilt, you're only serving yourself."
According to who? Why can't your guilt serve both yourself and humanity?

A Spider-Man who is Spider-Man because he feels he has to atone for the people he lost, and not the people he wants and feels he should save is not a Spider-Man I root for.

Again, I'm not sure why you are making it so black and white?!? I'm not sure why his guilt isn't what drives him to protect and shelter those that he loves.

Preston - 12/3/2012, 3:25 PM

Ben tells Peter that he is proud of him and what he has done with his life. If Peter was mostly doing this out of guilt, wouldn't he be content to stop being Spider-Man after his uncle had given him his blessing.

I think that moment was more 'bitter sweet.' I'm sure it was great for Peter to hear someone validate his actions (and telling him to reach for the stars) since he is always catching flack from everyone; however, I’m not sure that moment can directly translate to, "you can quit, and have a grand ol' time."

AC1 - 12/3/2012, 3:31 PM
This really well thought out debate between BattlinMurdock and Preston just goes to show how rich Peter Parker/Spider-Man is as a character, and thus how Garfield's portrayal is just as valid as Maguire's or the comic versions, because both actors portray different sides to the character (Tobey portrays the superpowered underdog turned hero, Andrew plays the tortured kid turned hero) - which version you prefer all depends on personal preferences. My personal preference is Garfield's, because it feels a lot more human and delves into a realistic portrayal of the psychology of the character - specifically, how those tragic events and losses through his life would shape him as he grew up. It has obviously had an incredibly negative effect on him, and the interesting thing to watch through the movie is how he tries to use those negative experiences in a positive way, as a driving force in his attempts to help others, because he's an inherently good character who bad things have happened to; which I'm sure will continue through the series.
AC1 - 12/3/2012, 3:36 PM
Also, I have to say that I believe guilt is a HUGE factor in the origins of Peter/Spidey. He becomes a hero to prevent others suffering as he has, while trying to atone for his part in Uncle Ben's death.

The story hinges on Peter's understated quest for redemption, as well as learning responsibility along the way. And all redemption stems from guilt.
ChadSuplee - 12/3/2012, 6:17 PM
Nice Editorial!
GoodGuy - 12/3/2012, 7:50 PM
Well done debate guys!!!


Good insights - at times philosophical too!

I think you explained damn well how guilt is the driving force of the heroism of Spider-Man. Stan lee probably intended it to be that way judging by the way the story is structured . I still fail to see it that way because I always thought that Spider-Man served others in order to live the most meaningful life possible. I always thought that he fought crime without any regard for himself because that was the responsible way of handling your abilities.

But either way, good job, man! Definitely opened my eyes!
blackster - 12/4/2012, 2:09 AM
'relating' to a character is something that just happens. you can't sit down here and explain why we should relate to this peter. and try to force it on people, that's not how it works.

again, it should have just happened. and for many, it did not.

that should be the end of discussion.
Tainted87 - 12/4/2012, 5:52 PM
I really don't like the "relateable" grooming.

For me, the larger than life characters are always the more interesting, and to rob Spider-man of his campiness and good-natured bravado is to make him less interesting to watch.

If Andrew Garfield played Raimi's Spider-man, it would be perfection.
GoodGuy - 12/4/2012, 7:29 PM

I agree. I would have preferred an instantly likable kid. I even mentioned that his rendition of Spider-Man is harder to empathize with.

I'm just trying to see the bright side in everything.
BlackfuryRises - 12/4/2012, 7:51 PM
Spider-jerk? Okay now you guys are just being [frick]ing stupid.
GoodGuy - 12/5/2012, 12:43 PM

Dude, read the article. It was a defense of the portrayal.
Tymminator - 12/6/2012, 9:07 AM
The comic version of Spidey though was a total jerk after he got his powers until his Uncle died. Think about it, he didn't stop the man who ended up killing his uncle because he felt it was simply NOT HIS JOB, he was a up and coming big TV star in his mind and he was only looking out for one person from now on, himself. Raimi's Spider-man origin totally eliminates that level of jerkyness/selfishness from Peter, but originally, it was there.
darkjoker1 - 12/8/2012, 11:09 AM
i really liked this spiderman/peter parker better then sam raimi spiderman becuse marc webb felt like a real person he not a jerk hes just a teenager with alot teen angest thats all and sam raimi peter was always winning and crying -_-....

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