Spider-Man has long been one of Marvel’s most popular characters. Even in these days of the MCU’s cultural dominance, Spider-Man is still one of the company’s most beloved characters, an icon that has endured some of the publisher’s hardest years. He’s the guy who everyone gets to team-up with to showcase how cool they are, as well as the character all the kids want to be when they play superhero.
One of Marvel’s first superheroes, he’s had his share of epic wins and terrible losses, always growing and changing in the process. Those ups and downs are one of the things that fans love about Spider-Man, so let’s look at the biggest changes in the Web-Slinger’s life.
10 A Team Player
Spider-Man has always had a lot of friends in the superhero community, but for a long time, he wasn’t much of a team player. He teamed up with a lot of heroes but he wasn’t much of a joiner. In his early days as a hero, he tried to join up with the Fantastic Four because he thought they got a paycheck but for years after that, Spider-Man was a solo player.
While he was a reserve member of the Avengers for years and had a short stint as a member of a replacement Fantastic Four, it wouldn’t be until he joined the Avengers full time that he would become an actual team player, taking a greater role in the Marvel Universe than he had ever had before.
9 A Mentor
For years, Spider-Man kind of downplayed his role as an inspiration to the heroes of the Marvel Universe. He’s always been one of the more humble heroes and on top of that, his insecurities kept him from taking a more active role with the younger superheroes who looked up to him.
However, in recent years, he’s come into his own in that regard. Joining the Avengers has helped a lot, making him realize just how important he is to the rest of the Marvel Universe. This had led him to take a mentoring role to his own little Spider-Man family, a big step for a character who had for years downplayed his role as one of the most inspirational superheroes in New York City.
8 The Clone Saga & A Big Return
The Clone Saga is looked back on by a lot of fans as a rather bad time for the Wall-Crawler, but it also represented a very cathartic time for Spider-Man. The return of his clone, long thought dead, threw his life into upheaval. For a time, he even thought he was the clone.
However, the really big change that stemmed from it was the return of Spider-Man’s greatest foe, Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin. Osborn had manipulated the whole situation, yet another salvo in his war against Peter Parker. Osborn’s return would mark a new beginning for the two men’s never-ending battle against each other, where he would eventually take his rightful place among the pantheon of the greatest villains in the Marvel Universe.
7 The Black Costume
Spider-Man’s black costume first debuted during Secret Wars. His costume has taken some damage and he got a replacement from a machine. This first version of the black suit was an alien being (more on that later) but as time went on, he would get a regular old cloth version of it as well. This was the first big change to Spider-Man’s costume ever but it wouldn’t be the last.
Over time, whenever the black costume would pop up, it would represent a darker time in Spider-Man’s life, like after the attempted assassination of Aunt May post-Civil War. It also just looked awesome, which is always a plus when a hero changes their costume.
6 Symbiote Madness
Spider-Man’s first black costume, the living alien one, would open up a whole can of worms over time. The alien lifeform would try and bond with Spider-Man, who would fight back and get rid of the costume. However, it would creep away and bond with Eddie Brock, a man with a grudge against Peter Parker, and Venom would be born.
Venom would spawn other symbiotes of various power levels, a whole new generation of villains for Spider-Man and others to fight. Venom himself would go back and forth between being a hero and a villain but for a time, he was one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes.
5 Reconciling With JJJ
J. Jonah Jameson has long been a thorn in Spider-Man’s side. Peter Parker’s boss at the Daily Bugle, Jameson would use the paper to vilify the Wall-Crawler, trying to turn the city against the young hero. He would even go so far as paying to equip enemies of Spider-Man, like Scorpion and the Spider-Slayers.
However, recently, Jameson and Spider-Man had it out on Jameson’s podcast and came to an understanding, which is a huge change for the relationship between the two men. It ended one of comics’ most antagonistic relationships in the best possible fashion.
4 The Death Of Peter Parker
Comic book characters die all the time and Spider-Man’s death was a big deal. Manipulated at every turn by Doctor Octopus, Spider-Man would end up giving his life, switching bodies with the ailing villain. However, he would leave a last gift to Doc Ock in his mind- his morals and innate goodness. This would spur Ock to keep up the role of Spider-Man, trying to prove that he could be a better hero than Parker ever was.
Ock’s time as Superior Spider-Man was a bit of a renaissance for Spider-Man, as Ock did prove that he could be a great hero and was actually better at being Peter Parker than Peter Parker was.
3 The Death Of Gwen Stacy
Gwen Stacy was Peter Parker’s first love. The prettiest girl in school, Gwen and Peter’s relationship happening was a longshot but the self-esteem boost that Peter gained from being Spider-Man gave him the confidence to successfully pursue and win over Gwen. Their love was wonderful and pure… but it was soon to end.
Stacy would be kidnapped by the Green Goblin and Spider-Man and Green Goblin would have a climactic battle on the George Washington Bridge, one that would cost Gwen her life. It was one of the biggest blows in Spider-Man’s life at the time, up there with the death of Uncle Ben.
2 The Marriage Of Peter And Mary-Jane
Mary-Jane Watson was Peter’s neighbor and the two were good friends. After Gwen’s death, they would get together, their love growing until one day, they decided to take the plunge. Peter Parker and Mary-Jane Watson would get married, an event that would change the character and his dynamic for years to come.
Marriage added a new level of responsibility to Spider-Man, a character who was always all about responsibility. An entire generation of fans would grow up reading about a married Peter Parker and that was the version of the character they loved.
1 The End Of The Marriage
The writers at Marvel, believing that the young, unattached Spider-Man they grew up with was the superior version, decided to do away with the marriage of Peter and MJ. They, in their infinite wisdom, also decided that them getting a divorce would age the character even more, so they came up with the most convoluted and terrible way to do away with the marriage.
Hence was born “One More Day”, a story that would see Peter Parker trade his marriage to Mephisto in order to save Aunt May’s life. Fans’ reaction to the story was downright hostile and it’s went down as one of the worst Spider-Man stories of all time.
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