- Spider-Man’s encounter with the Joker in the 1990s crossover Spider-Man and Batman reveals his darker emotions, but he maintains control and resists the urge for vengeance.
- Peter Parker has maintained his status as one of the most relatable superheroes, stemming in large part from his vulnerability and ability to grapple with moral dilemmas.
- Uncle Ben’s death shapes Spider-Man’s moral compass, and in the long-term perhaps prevented him from becoming a darker and more vengeful hero.
Spider-Man’s first words to the Joker effectively proved that he’s the ultimate comic hero. Peter Parker, as Marvel’s Spider-Man, has been relatable to countless readers for generations, in large part because of his real-world struggles and moral code. However, this doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been pushed to his limits before, and no villain brought Spidey closer to the edge than DC’s very own Joker.
Spider-Man and Batman #1 – by J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Bagley, Scott Hanna and Mark Farmer – kicks off the crossover special bringing together two of Marvel and DC’s top crimefighters. Spider-Man comes face-to-face with the Joker, and surprisingly, his initial reaction echoes a sentiment other heroes like Flash have had over the years: Joker is so chaotic that he has to die to truly bring peace to Gotham.
How this moment plays out proves Spider-Man is more in touch with his darker emotions than other heroes. Rather than acting on impulse, he is able to stop, even during a heated confrontation, and think through his possible actions and their consequences.
Spider-Man Has Vengeful Thoughts – But He Controls Them
In Spider-Man and Batman #1, Joker eggs Peter Park on to do it, to kill him, and forever dragging the heroic name of Spider-Man through the mud. Thankfully, Peter quickly regains his composure, and realizes that what he’s doing is wrong, but this moment shows that he’s vulnerable to these brief flashes of vengeance. What’s fascinating about this revelation from a nearly 30-year-old story is that it is not completely out of character for Spider-Man. In fact, he has consistently found himself on the edge in Spidey stories throughout the years, where he battles right and wrong when facing a seemingly impossible-to-defeat villain.
Peter Parker is not immune to having dark thoughts, nor is he impervious to a desire to exact vengeance on those that wronged him – and that’s what makes him incredibly relatable to his fans. Of course, when talking about Spider-Man’s morality, it all goes back to Uncle Ben. The tragic death of his father-figure featured one of his darkest moments as he hunted down his uncle’s killer to exact his revenge. However, it’s when he learns that the killer was someone he could have stopped by not indulging in his narcissism (as well as vengeance in future reboots) that he took a turn for the better.
Uncle Ben’s Death Kept Spider-Man From Being Marvel’s Darkest Hero
Without this defining moment in his Marvel history, Spider-Man would likely have become a vindictive antihero that killed the Joker without much thought. Spider-Man’s relatability with fans is undoubtedly what will keep him relevant in the public eye for decades to come. His good-hearted intentions help him stand out as a truly admirable hero, but it’s his human moments that keep him grounded and loved by readers of all ages. The fact that he isn’t immune to the taunts of the Joker show that Spider-Man will always be the ultimate hero, and while he will always fight for what’s right.