Spider-Man was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and saw his first comic appearance in 1962 featuring much of what Spider-Man still is today; his super strength, agility, wall climbing, web-shooter inventions, Spider-Senses and the hero’s nerdy and often bullied alter ego, Peter Parker, were all part of the equation. Spider-Man is a global phenomenon. He is an instantly recognizable hero on par with Wolverine or DC’s Superman and Batman. But why? And just how big is Spider-Man?
Spidey instantly struck a chord with the comic’s teen viewership. In a time when superheroes were all grown men, Spider-Man was a teen doing his best, hence the comic’s well-known adage “With great power Comes Great Responsibility”. The comic also featured many colorful yet relatable villains; instead of “General Zod” character-types which were hellbent on destroying the earth, the comic featured Spider-Man battling it out against villains like Vulture, a man who turned to crime after his colleague financially ruined him, or Venom, the ultimate archetype of what Spider-Man could be if he used his powers for evil.
Now today Marvel often portrays Spider-Man as the company’s mascot, and the strong but shy teen makes regular appearances all over the world. There have been many comic variations from Spidey in the Medieval era to Spidey in the future (Spider-Man 2099 and Spider-Man 2211). Spider-Man India saw a retelling of the story in an amazing Indian setting while Ai Apaec saw Spider-Man envisioned as a six-armed South American Spider God. Throughout all this the original The Amazing Spider-Man comic, which began in earnest in 1963, was still running strong. Our favorite web-slinger is a pleasure to read in all his iterations.
The First Spider-Man Cartoon series ran from 1967 to 1970 and Spider-Man’s first live-action tv series (1974-77) was a small educational TV show for kids, demonstrating that Spider-Man was already being used as an integral figure for a whole new generation. And, for generations new and old Orlando Florida sports a Spider-Man 4D amusement ride. Spidey has been a powerful figure in many childhoods across the world.
Many game communities have also created their own tribute to our favorite web-slinger. There are thousands of Spider-Man skins to be found on Minecraft and the Crimson Web knife skin for Counterstrike can be acquired for anything from 51 dollars to well over 200 on Case 51, depending on the knife. Spider-Man is one of the most common cosplay characters out there, from cheap morph suits to dedicated costumes there has never been a comic con without Spider-Man. But for fans that want to show their dedication in other ways there is a mountain of merch to choose, from Lego sets to clothes, and toys to bedcovers many items seem to be aimed at a younger generation while collectible statues and even car stickers appear to be aimed at older Spider-Man fans.
From comics and cartoons to costumes and collectibles, Spider-Man has slowly penetrated many aspects of day to day life. Even today he’s still a fan favorite and is a global symbol for “doing right”, a perfect example of this is the recent partnership between Marvel and the UN, which will produce a comic of Spider-Man assisting UN troops. Spider-Man is a global phenomenon because his character struck gold with the readership, creating a fan-base that would develop or invest in Spider-Man wherever he could be found.