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?
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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