With Great Intent Comes Great Profit
Comic books are a form of literature. While created to tell interesting stories and serve as World War 2 propaganda, they had added layers of depth as time went on. They evolved into a way to visually tell stories that wouldn’t be held in the same likeness as Saturday cartoons. Comics were on pace to rival actual written literature. The characters were mostly aimed at children with colorful costumes and campy names. Literature is a way for an artist to express themselves. To create a character with layers and be able to craft narratives around them is a form of art.
Now on the subject of art, let’s talk The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Peter Parker in particularly has touched more fans and regular media consumers since his debut in 1962 with Amazing Fantasy #15 from the minds of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko. Lee’s most well known interview about Peter Parker is how he came up with the idea for him. While he was pumping out titles like The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, and The X-Men he found himself with a form of writer’s block. According to New York Daily News he said, “saw a fly crawling on a wall. And I said, ‘Boy, it would be great if I could get a superhero who could stick to walls like an insect.’ ” and then the greatest fictional character was born. Lee’s writing combined with visual input from Kirby and Ditko formed Parker’s personality as a nerdy teenager that goes through tragedy and had been given enormous amounts of power. The choice to make him a teenager in a time when younger people were more rebellious and blasting Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan was the most relatable thing they could do. When talking of relatability, Parker is the vessel of relatability.
Relatability is appealing. To go see an alien from Krypton throw buildings, shoot lasers from his eyes, or any other incredible feat is good and fun, but only for a spectacle. Clark Kent has to put on a mask every day when he hides as some mild mannered reporter at a newspaper. All of the problems he faces in that area are only present because he strives to be human. Humanity is what Peter Parker embodies. When Lee was workshopping the character he wanted him to be imperfect and fallible. When Lee talks to CBC and says “Okay he’s pretty good at catching bad guys, but he’s apt to get an allergy attack while he’s fighting” or “we try to bring comics a little more into the real world” he’s saying that yes, DC Comics was popping off with these crazy powerful characters, he thought that maybe the reason people read these books is because people project themselves onto the characters. Peter Parker was the gateway to comic fans feeling like they could put on a costume and go fight criminals. Americans struggle to pay rent more and more as the years progress. When we see Peter lose the twenty dollar bill his aunt gave him in Spider-Man 2 (2004) to his landlord then accidentally make his laundry red and blue from messing up his wash, it grounds him more and more. Chances are that who ever is reading comic books is a billionaire Bruce Wayne type bathing in money, equipment, or a black belt in every form of martial arts is pretty slim. We are all regular people making every day decisions to put food on the table. Clark Kent never asked to Superman. Peter Parker never asked to be bitten by the radioactive arachnid, but he chose to be Spider-Man. The ability to make the selfless choice and use something unnaturally thrusted upon him is what sets him apart from all the other heroes.
Parker redefined the superhero. Like previously mentioned, he was the first hero to deal with real life problems just as much as his costumed foes. In several incarnations and storylines Peter gives up being Spider-Man. The most well known instance was in The Amazing Spider-Man #50 where Peter weighs his options of balancing the double life. He was getting into fights with his friends, dodging girls, and spending no time with his Aunt May. Any normal person can relate, especially a working college student. Going from working thirty five to forty hours a week and juggling class work, projects, and tests is a hard thing. Peter made a very human decision. He thought that the root of his problems was Spider-Man and decided to give up. When Peter returned to his normal life he found that his problems were rooted in his behavior as a human, and not the result of poor time management. It’s perfectly human to misread your friends and loved ones. He found that giving up his super heroing had little to no impact on his personal relationships. This was more of a personal problem that he had to fix as a regular person.
We don’t see any fictional character so mainstream and popular get beat down so bad like Peter. Yes there will be the occasional magical, space, and other fantasy elements added to his stories but the thing that keeps him the most is how he fits into these elements. For example, in the already established Marvel Cinematic Universe, Peter Parker who is Marvel’s most profitable character debuted in a Captain America film. The introduction of his character was filmed in a small apartment and away from the world ending threats the MCU was accustomed to showing us. The way he spouted out pop culture references to people over twice his age and naively fought his opponents brought levity to the situation. Since then his solo outings have been described as John Hughes like by the creatives. The Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vibes were a heavy influence to have Peter return to his roots as a young and relatable kid. As of right right now Spider-Man’s latest film Spider-Man: No Way Home, which saw the return of the three actors reprising their roles has earned a world wide gross of over 1.8 billion dollars. In a pandemic world we’re living in, the hope and optimism of Peter Parker shines bright.
CBC/Radio Canada. (2018, November 13). Why Stan Lee saw Spider-Man as a regular guy | CBC archives. CBCnews. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from https://www.cbc.ca/archives/why-stan-lee-saw-spider-man-as-a-regular-guy-1.4902887
Rubin, R. (2022, February 15). ‘Spider-Man: No way home’ takes down ‘avatar’ to become third-biggest movie ever at domestic box office. Variety. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from https://variety.com/2022/film/news/spider-man-no-way-home-avatar-box-office-record-1235180474/#!
Sacks, E. (2019, January 10). Spider-man got his start as a fly on the wall of Marvel’s Stan Lee . nydailynews.com. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from https://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/spider-man-start-fly-wall-marvel-stan-lee-article-1.1102658
Hey, Bully. Thanks for posting and requesting Feedback. You didn’t specify what sort of feedback you wanted (Shame on you 😉 ), so you’ll have to suffer with my choices.
My first impression without reading a single word is that either 1) you don’t have enough ideas, or 2) your paragraphs are too long.
Every paragraph, like a little argument, should develop ONE main idea. That means, by my count, you have an Intro, a Conclusion, and two main ideas. In the next section, I’ll select a paragraph at random and see how many paragraphs it REALLY is.
I got distracted by your first sentence. Gotta do this:
Uncle Buck’s chili “makes its way through people,” Bully. Art should get snagged somewhere in the head or the heart and not make it out the other end.
You’ve got your rhetorical volume cranked up to 11, Bully, and it’s creating mostly feedback and distortion. Aim for 9 and a clean, pure sound.
Bully, I’m completely on board with Spiderman as a topic for a Researched Position Paper, and I’ve offered to help you blend in academic research as part of the process, so hear me clearly, please. You’re working on a C paper here at best, even after you polish it to a bright shine. Your References cannot be limited to popular sources. The result, no matter how potent your insights, could qualify as good reading on a blog or an online magazine, and there’s NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. But it doesn’t meet the requirements of an academic paper written for a Composition course that emphasizes the research part.
Leaving language use out of the discussion (There will be time for grammar and style revisions after the arguments are nailed down), let’s look at a paragraph studded by your insightful observations. I’m choosing the Conclusion.
—There’s some connection between getting “beat down” and “fitting into these elements,” Bully, but I can’t tell what it is. I don’t understand the relevance of “so mainstream and popular” either. Is it supposed to remind us that there are non-popular superheroes who get beat down even harder? The sidebar comment about fantasy elements distracts completely from your primary observation that Parker is a realistic kid in a mostly realistic world. It’s the first Main Idea in this paragraph.
—This distraction takes us out of your character analysis to make a side observation about Spiderman’s profitability and the cross-fertilization of characters into each other’s books and films. It might be going somewhere, but it’s a detour that qualifies as the second Main Idea in this paragraph.
—I think your point is that even in the highly unrealistic setting of a CA film, PP maintains his aw-shucks American teen persona. It’s a fine observation that qualifies as the third Main Idea of this paragraph, but it bullies us back onto the main track after the detour.
—It’s taken me awhile to realize that this is a further development of the previous observation. Pop culture, the age of his “co-stars,” and Spidey’s naïve combat skills do have relevance here if what you mean is that, his youth, raw inexperience, and unpolished fighting techniques are characteristics that (because they’re so different from the mainstream grab bag of skills and attributes that personify most “super-heroes”) make Spiderman uniquely attractive to millions of readers who want to identify more closely with an “un-super-hero.” I gather that’s what you meant. It’s a fine idea that probably qualifies as your fourth Main Idea of the paragraph, but it’s hard to tell.
—We’re totally perplexed by your need to create a chronology here, Bully. If your thesis is that Spiderman has EVOLVED to become the relatable non-heroic-hero that he is, these time indicators will be helpful. But I don’t see the relevance. We want to know who he IS and why his ESSENCE is relatable, not how it changed, if it changed. Lose the “since then” and “return to his roots” language to keep us focused on what lasts. This is another Main Idea, but one that you can scratch.
—Three actors? Reprising their roles? Big box office? Very confusing detour.
—I see WHY you named the current movie, but combine these last two sentences to emphasize Spiderman’s timeless appeal and de-emphasize the contemporary details.
Wow! This is all so wonderful! Great time reading this and seeing what you think. One problem I had while writing was pacing. So if it seems like my ideas are short/absent it’s just because I had to readjust myself to see my word count. Also didn’t know how to ask for SPECIFIC feedback so all of this is more than great! The 1000 word count kind of made me feel boxed in because of my over abundance of sources (like you pointed out before) and now with this feedback, while moving forward I’ll definitely be able to incorporate my thoughts more comprehensive.
One problem I felt stifled by was the strict definition/categorical requirement. The whole point of my article and what makes my point make sense is its reliance of being subjective. I found that it’s hard to find the characteristics of the definition/categorical method when dealing with my particular subject. Other than that I still feel confident and my sources will be academic more increasingly now that I figured out my pacing.
Thanks for your insight.
Wow, indeed! You and I can really work together, Bully. 🙂
Thank you for accepting criticism as what it is: a sincere attempt to help. I have some useful advice in response to your completely valid observation:
This makes perfect sense to me. And the answer is also simple.
Most students don’t have a clue how to structure a 3000-word essay. I artificially break down the 3000 into manageable chunks we can chew over together. For that purpose, it helps to create a theme for the 1000. In a finished essay, likely the components of the three short essays will be rearranged to take their rightful place among the 3000. But for the time being, it helps to concentrate on the Definitional, or the Causal, or the Rebuttal components as separate entities.
Here’s the simple part. In your argument, the central Definition/Categorical question is obviously: What’s a Superhero? Your essay is studded with observations that Peter Parker/Spiderman DOES NOT FIT THE MOLD. He/they do not belong to the category as it is generally understood.
In analyzing just your Conclusion, I found myself leaning on language like: “so mainstream and popular” and “non-popular superheroes” and “a realistic kid in a mostly realistic world” and “aw-shucks American teen persona” and “naïve combat skills” and “youth, raw inexperience, and unpolished fighting techniques” and “so different from the mainstream grab bag of skills and attributes that personify most “super-heroes”, and “uniquely attractive” and “un-super-hero” and “young and relatable kid” and “the relatable non-heroic-hero” and “his ESSENCE is relatable” and “Spiderman’s timeless appeal.”
Some of that language is your own. We’re clearly in agreement here. You already know the basis for your Definitional/Categorical argument is to declare that Spiderman succeeds by NOT BELONGING to the traditional Superhero category. For the time being, ignore all observations about WHY that might CAUSE him to be popular. Those will be useful in your CAUSAL argument. Spend your 1000 words declaring and supporting the declaration that SMan breaks the rules of the category.