Spider-man is one of my all-time favorite superheroes. I first became a fan in the early 80’s, when ABC aired Spider-man and His Amazing Friends, which had him teaming up with Firestar and Iceman. The series was a lot of fun and a great introduction to the Marvel Universe, because each week we would not only meet many of Spider-man’s enemies, but also other heroes like The Incredible Hulk and Dr. Strange. It eventually led to me reading the actual comic book as well, long after the series ran its course. My love of Spider-man led me to watch the movies Sony made using the characters (In case you’re wondering, I prefer the Toby Maguire trilogy over Andrew Garcia because those movies actually went somewhere. The Amazing movies sputtered out just when they were getting good.) However, as a true Marvel fan, I kept wanting Sony to give the movie rights to Marvel, especially since Marvel was making movies out of so many of their other heroes. One of the best things about the Marvel Universe was the huge events where the different heroes would fight alongside each other. To me, a Marvel movie universe without Spider-man made no sense, he’s such an iconic character in the universe. The Avengers movies were all leading up to the “Civil War” arc, to be used in the next Captain America movie of the same name. This would mean that Spider-man would be needed because he played a key role in the story. Marvel began negotiations so they could have the character back, and now both Sony and Paramount are making the movie. I’ve also heard that there’s a possibility that Spider-man will be revealed to be autistic.
I have heard that some fans aren’t happy with this revelation. They feel it isn’t true to the character because autism has never been discussed in the comics in relation to Peter Parker. However, I disagree. I think this revelation adds a new depth to Spider-man. The way I see it, autism fits Spider-man.
Spider-man’s personality has some traits that could easily be explained by autism. He is extremely intelligent. In most of the best Spider-man stories, Peter uses his brains to defeat his foes, often coming up with uncanny solutions to defeat them. When he was in school, like many people with autism, he was often an outcast. He was a total science geek, and basically felt as though he didn’t belong in school. When he got his powers, he foolishly thought to use them for personal gain. He eventually realized the responsibility his powers required when his Uncle Ben was killed in a manner he could’ve prevented, an event that would haunt him for the rest of his life. Even after he got his powers, he was still a social outcast. In fact, his powers made him even more of an outcast. His own boss thought he was no worse than the criminals he was fighting. The two biggest superhero teams, Avengers and Fantastic Four, never let him join (yes, he is a member of the Avengers, but he wasn’t when I was reading the comic.). True, he did have a good friendship with some of the other superheroes, especially Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four, but he was never allowed to be a part of any team. It wasn’t until he started college that he began to become more confident, and slowly developed lasting friendships, causing a more fleshed-out cast, including Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy, two love interests who played a big part in his life. (Why yes, I hate the “One More Day” and “Spider-clone” arcs.)
I think if it’s true that Spider-man will be revealed to be autistic, it will open new possibilities for the character. Disabled superheroes are nothing new for Marvel. Daredevil is blind, and so is X-men member Cyclops. The X-men’s founder, Charles Xavier, is handicapped from the waste down. I’ve wanted to see more positive portrayals of autistic people, and I think Spider-man might be a good start towards that. Granted, not all aspects of Spider-man’s life are positive, but he’s at his best when he’s portrayed as a witty, fun-loving superhero, one driven by the great responsibility that came with his powers. I think a character like Spider-man would be an excellent role model. He has a great sense of justice and a determined spirit. His intellect makes him a different sort of hero, one who favors wit over strength. So I welcome this change. I eagerly await the possibilities that will arise.