The modern boom of comic book movies has made household names out of formerly second (and third) tier characters like Iron Man and Star-Lord as box office records have fallen, but Spider-Man remains one of the most popular superheroes out there. Even with the multiplex being dominated by the exploits of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers over the past decade, a convincing argument can be made that Peter Parker is still Marvel’s poster boy, one of the many reasons why fans are excited to see the Web Head be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After debuting in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland’s iteration leads Spider-Man: Homecoming this summer.
Through all the highs and lows Spider-Man has experienced on the big screen since 2002, the character is still a major box office draw and a favorite among viewers. A key part of Your Friendly Neighborhood’s appeal is Peter Parker, who – superpowers aside – is one of the more down-to-Earth characters in all of comics. According to Holland, that aspect is what he enjoys the most about portraying the wall crawler.
In an interview with Variety, Holland spoke about why Spider-Man has been such a beloved figure in the zeitgeist for decades, touching on how relatable the character is:
“Peter Parker is probably the most relatable superhero maybe ever, because he goes through something that basically everyone has to go through. Whether it’s puberty or talking to girls or doing homework, he does it in such a human way. That’s why he’s such a beloved character, because so many people can relate to him. If you ask any kid under the age of 10 what their favorite colors are, it’s probably red and blue, so he’s got both of those checked off.”
This has frequently been cited as an explanation for Spider-Man’s widespread prevalence, as co-creator Stan Lee tried to do something different in the original comics. Lee placed a lot of focus on Peter’s personal struggles as he tried to balance his crime fighting with “normal” responsibilities like attending school, trying to woo a crush, and taking care of his elderly Aunt May. Many readers saw parts of themselves in Parker and became enamored for Spider-Man. Peter wasn’t a billionaire with a butler or an alien from another world – he was a regular everyday guy thrust into an extraordinary situation and had to deal with it to the best of his ability. Living vicariously through an otherworldly god makes for fun escapism, but Parker’s real-life problems hit closer to home.
As such, Spider-Man media has made sure to include this element, with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 seen as the gold standard for how to pull of that dichotomy in the movies. Homecoming is going to be a different kind of beast given its high school setting, but the trailers so far have illustrated director Jon Watts has captured the spirit of the comics. His film isn’t just about genre thrills and action, it covers Peter discovering more about himself and realizing his full potential, which sounds like as compelling a story as ever.