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January 30, 2019

Why does the Spiderman character click?

Why does the Spiderman character click?

Spiderman has risen to yet another peak with the huge success of Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse! Despite its box office success surpassing $335 million in its first month, the movie is being talked about differently than other superhero movies. Some of the things fans are saying are that the storytelling is different and that the characters are deeply human and vulnerable.

Miles Morales Spiderman by artist Richard Pace

I interviewed a fan Sanjana Khetan, who watched Spider-Verse four times! She connected with the movie for a couple reasons:

“Spiderman’s struggles are very relatable compared to other super heroes. He’s a teenager who has to balance grades, part time jobs, has to take care of his family while also saving the world. Like as a teenager who might feel alienated or angst, I think Spider-Man is the most relatable superhero."

I asked fans on Reddit why they love the Spider-Verse movie. They echo Khetan's comments about the character's relatability and humanness. One fans wrote:

"Superman and Batman are clearly iconic heroes, but they are also these god-like beings (even Batman is seen as this up there god). Spider-Man in comparison has real struggles and real troubles. Besides his powers, he's just a struggling kid trying to get by. Characters that people are able to connect with are always popular."

Being vulnerable is how we connect

Dr. Brené Brown gave a powerful TED talk about the Power of Vulnerability and wrote a bestselling book called Daring Greatly. She believes that:

"True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world. .. Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we're all in this together."

Dr. Brené Brown on empathy

This maybe the reason we are drawn to stories and characters that speak to our truth. It's the reason we relate to other like-minded fans and yearn to belong to a like-minded community.

Spider-Verse characters are likeable

Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, Miles Morales and other characters in the movie are outsiders. They want their voices heard and want to represent. Spider-verse did an excellent job of developing each character and their subsequent relationship with each other. One fan who was very happy with Spider-Verse and wrote:

"Being animated allows it to be a lot more liberal, as it isn't restricted by what a physical person is able to achieve. That, along with the amazing art style, mixing in comic book art, makes it a real stand out. The characters are well developed, likeable and easy to connect with. Best example is right at the start, where Miles is singing along to Post Malone and says mumbled gibberish when he doesn't know the words. This relates to a lot of people."

New and different Spideys introduced

According the ScreenRant, Spider-Verse is the first movie to properly understand the meaning of Spider-Man. This film's main character is Miles Morales, an Afro-Latino teenager. This is departure from the usual superhero because it is the first time to have a person with color acting as one of the most prominent superheroes in the world. (Some heroes like Black Panther was played by African but he was not iconic enough and mostly featured as side character)

Miles, and others like Peni Parker, a spider girl with Japanese heritage, or spider noir, from 1930s, have different ethnicities, costumes, and ages. But they share tragic pasts and have learned lessons where they want to use their power to strive for the greater good. None of the heroes are shown to be more valuable or better than others. They are equal. This would be one reason the film may be universally appealing to fans around the world and from different cultures and ages.

Why the Spider-verse animated universe works

Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, Miles Morales and other characters in the movie are outsiders. They want their voices heard and want to represent. Spider-verse did an excellent job of developing each character and their subsequent relationship with each other.

Polygon interviewed one of the film’s two art directors, Patrick O’Keefe about how the team came with the dazzling graphics. The three main features he pointed out are the appreciation and curation of the animation and comic book forms, the graphic simplification of the real world and the comic book texturing, and the admiration of true live action cinematography.

For example, the graffiti, or gum stuck on the mailboxes, as well as the complexity of the textures in New York City will create unnecessary chaotic scenes in the animation, so they could be neglected.

There were additional challenges such as maintaining the action and movement, keeping the character in the forefront and all the while successfully translating visually. Robh Ruppel, another artist for the film, described it as "a master class in graphic design".

Stan Lee and Spiderman

In an 1977 interview here, Stan Lee discusses why Spiderman is a regular guy with the similar shortcomings and weaknesses like all of us.

Stan Lee 1977 appearance on CBC's 90 Minutes Live

For millions of Marvel fans, the passing of Stan Lee marks the end of one an era and one of the most enduring, talented and creative forces in comics and pop culture. Richard Pace, a veteran Canadian comics artist interviewed on a recent Whirple CreatorCast said:

“When comic lovers notice that Lee has passed away, they will feel their heart skipped because Lee was the one they loved and spent so much time with. Lee has actually become an aspect of who they are and how they enjoy their lives, just like their best friends or partners."

The last cameo appearance in a Marvel film by Lee will be bittersweet for fans to watch. Fan should watch with pride and joy because that is how Lee felt about doing each and every cameo.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a milestone for the superhero, animation and movie storytelling that overlaps with Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey. Diehard fans and new fans alike are resonating with Stan Lee's passing and Spiderman as one of the most down to earth characters ever created. The animation visual expressions leave fans yearning for a sequel. They will not be disappointed!

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