Spider-Man and Stan Lee

a kate west reflection

My favorite superhero is Spider-man, originally created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. He seemed to show up everywhere, from his own animated television series and special appearances on "The Electric Company" to major motion pictures. I loved it all. He was created the same decade I was born too, in the 1960's. I never read many comic books as a kid, but always held a fascination for the webbed man, funny considering my slight arachnophobia. Maybe it's because he's a climber, and I'm in love with rock climbing (love scaling those walls and cliffs). Or maybe it was the idea of teenage angst finding a noble outlet.

It's also great to have a "real" character in a real city (I heart New York) working for a newspaper, all things I dig. Brings it all closer to home. Peter Parker is full of doubts, in both comic book form and film versions. Bitten by a radioactive spider, why wouldn't a bookish teenager become even more petulant at times? That would wreak havoc with anyone's hormones. Raised by his aunt and uncle, he loses one of them (Uncle Ben) to a carjacking thief, prompting him to fight crime for the rest of his life. He's directly responsible for this in the movie, which comprises most of his agonizing self-doubt. Another cinematic change is that his web is organic, rather than scientifically made as in the comic books, a really cool improvement. Plus he goes through many different relationships (Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy, etc), another realistic aspect. (But please, Director Raimi, stop allowing him to reveal his identity while rescuing the same girl over and over in each and every film. New story needed!)

I became a Stan Lee fan because of Spidey, in spite of some comic world grumblings over his alleged unscrupulousness. Even to the point of watching the over-the-top "reality show" silliness that is "Who Wants To Be A Superhero?" It led me to his other creations like the X-Men, another fascinating world of conflict. Tobey Maguire makes a fine young Peter Parker and although the three Spider-man films are unevenly matched, I can't help watching every last one of them. Such is the power of Stan Lee. And Spider-man, of course. Everyone from my generation, please feel free to sing along:

Spider-man, Spider-man
Does whatever a spider can
Spins a web, any size
Catches thieves, just like flies
Look out! Here comes the Spider-man!

Is he strong? Listen, Bud!
He's got radioactive blood.
Can he swing from a thread?
Take a look overhead.
Hey there, there goes the Spider-man!

In the chill of night,
At the scene of the crime
Like a streak of light
He arrives just in time

Spider-man, Spider-man
Friendly neighborhood Spider-man
Wealth and fame, he's ignored
Action is his reward

To him, life is a great big bang-up
Wherever there's a hang-up
You'll find the Spider-man!

The Movies:
Spider-Man - The Motion Picture Trilogy (Spider-Man / Spider-Man 2 / Spider-Man 3)

The Comic Books:
Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 (Variant Version)

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