Sunday, December 16, 2012

Poor Peter Parker

When it comes to comic book super heros, I was always in the Spider-Man camp, and probably for many of the same reasons everyone else was: Peter Parker is ultimately more relatable to as a person than most other comic book characters. He is a human, not an alien; he is a working man trying to make a living and support his aunt; and he has to deal with the pressures of daily life without the help of hired workers, influential connections, or even a sympathetic public, at times. (I'm talking specifically about the Spider-Man of the comic books before any of the reboots.)

But, from time to time, I find myself asking this question: Why does he have to put up with his lot in life?

Why isn't Peter Parker rich?

He is a genius with incredible engineering acumen, in both the mechanical and chemical fields, and he has proven himself to be a problem solver with critical thinking skills. Why, then, is he working as a freelance newspaper photographer who worries about paying his rent instead of as the head of a major development firm? Or as a well-respected scientist who commands the respect of all in his field while getting tasty grants from the government and tempting offers from all kinds of corporations?

For the record, Peter Parker invented these:

Those are web shooters, and Parker invented them when he was just a teenager. This is a remarkable invention, combining a completely engineered synthetic substance with precise mechanical operations  to allow the user to SHOOT WEBS!!!  Strong, sticky webs that can be dissolved at a precisely determined time.


Why is this invention not being used for all kinds of practical applications right now? The executives at 3M would have a field day with this! Or, they would spend all kinds of resources trying to woo the person who created these astounding gadgets to come work for them. Why doesn't Peter Parker go to work for such a company -- or even try to take it over -- and become wealthy so that he doesn't have to worry about where he will get the basic necessities of life? Why doesn't he invent other things and sell the patents so that he and his loved ones can live a comfortable life while he fights crime in his spare time?

Why is he consciously making the decision live a struggling existence?

Perhaps he doesn't like big corporations. Fine. He can be that way. But he could still use his genius mind to invent other things with more humanitarian applications. And if he feels guilty about profiting from these enterprises, he can always donate his money to another philanthropic organization to help with another problem. Why does he eschew such success and damn his elderly aunt to life in a crappy apartment?

Come on, Parker. I expected more from you. And I bet Mary Jane does, too.


AlanDP said...

To me it's obvious that he couldn't go public as the inventor of the web shooter. It was be too great of a risk in possibly exposing his identity.

I think Stan Lee kept him as a common working schlub precisely because it kept him more relatable.

Albatross said...

He could have invented something else, though (like a new telephone, or something pod-like). And then he might have lived a life like Bruce Wayne, all rich during the day and all crime fighter at night. I understand that Stan Lee wanted Peter Parker to remain an everyman, but when Lee allowed for the invention of the web shooters, he made a pretty big plot hole.