Sean Beckwith: Best of 2,019 superheroes
Happy New Year! I would have a list for you but I thought I’d try something different than rehashing the past 12 months or 10 years. If you would like Best of 2019- or 2010’s-related content, open any browser or newspaper or turn on the TV.
Spider-Man is the best superhero. He has the best cast of villains, a great skillset of powers and the least obnoxious superhero personality. The fact that half the internet almost rioted after Sony made a cash grab at Tom Holland and the latest, best and most successful movie version of the wall crawler speaks to how beloved Peter Parker is.
When you throw in Miles Morales and “Into the Spider-Verse,” aka the best animated superhero movie of all time, it’s not even close in my opinion. The only real challenger is Batman. People who grew up after the ’90s may say it’s Iron Man or one of the Avengers.
However, those were B-list heroes when I was growing up and that probably had something to do with the popularity of The Avengers. The audience largely didn’t know any storylines about those characters heading into the MCU, which is helpful because my knowledge of Spider-Man and the X-Men gave me an over-critical eye of its subject matter.
I could go into the psychology of modern comic book fandom but that’s a 1,500-page book. That said, I’m going to stick to the persuasive essay and get back to my argument.
While Spider-Man doesn’t have the best villain (that’s either the Joker or Magneto), he does have the best ensemble. For example, after the Joker, who’s Batman’s greatest foe? Run down the list of his nemeses from the Batman movies. Cat Woman, the Penguin, Two Face (probably the second-best Batman enemy), Ra’s al Ghul, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Bane, Riddler, Scarecrow, etc. The only really compelling back stories/characters are Cat Woman, who’s basically an ally, and Two Face.
With Spider-Man, you have a plethora of foes with personal relationships to Parker. Doc Oc and the Lizard were essentially mentors. Green Goblin is a family friend. Venom is a former co-worker. I’m not saying Spider-Man doesn’t have his share of questionable antagonists — Shocker, Rhino, Sandman — I’m just saying there aren’t as many.
Also, while were bringing Batman into the discussion, it’s worth mentioning that he doesn’t have any powers. He’s basically Jeff Bezos without parents. (Note: Please no one tragically kill Bezos’ parents. We don’t need rich-guy Super Friends. Elon Musk already tried saving trapped children and it ended up with him calling the real hero a pedo guy.)
Being able to climb walls, have super strength and Spidey sense is dope but when you factor in his web shooters, game over. He’s got as many functions on his wrists as Batman has on his belt. Swiniging around New York is definitely more effective than driving the Bat mobile. At no point do we see Batman stuck on the Brooklyn Bridge even though that would happen all the time.
“Batman, meter maid face off in the battle of who double parked!”
I could totally see Batman having a rich guy hissy fit out to dinner with the Super Friends.
“I said Ossetra caviar. What is this Sasanian crap?!”
Peter Parker on the other hand has worked in the hospitality industry. He’s constantly getting fired because he puts saving New Yorkers over his personal well-being. The guy has had as much if not more tragedy befall him than Bruce Wayne and he’s not out anger-breaking ankles of common thugs. I like someone who’s not afraid to crack jokes at inappropriate times.
I don’t think I need to run down the list of comparable superhero personalities because they all kind of fit an archetype. Cyclops, Super Man and Captain America are all glorified boy scouts. (Clark Kent has the personality of room-temperature porridge.) Deadpool and Venom are funny, too, but they’re more anti-heroes than superheros. I like Wolverine but he seems like he has a lot mood swings. Gambit seems like a good time but I would get sick of constantly losing at cards/him stealing from me. I would like to hang out with Ragnarok Thor but definitely not Dark World Thor.
In summary, Spider-Man is the dopest. He’s relatable, funny, heroic and smart. If I sound like a school girl crushing on P Squared, that’s because I am. It’s more bromance than romance but the same level of (platonic) affection applies.
I haven’t even commented on the costume. It’s iconic, has a fantastic color scheme and at no point did it feature fake nipples.
With great powers comes the greatest superhero.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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