The Importance of Uncle Ben In Marvel's Spider-Man

Peter Parker and Uncle Ben in Marvel's Spider-Man

Marvel's Spider-Man will utilize Uncle Ben's death as Peter's main motivation to put on his fight suit every day and continue to help others - despite how emotionally and physically draining being a superhero can be. Following several iterations of the character in various media formats, the new Disney XD animated series, which is set to air this Saturday, August 19, will bring the beloved wall-crawling good doer to his narrative roots by tackling Peter's day-to-day life as smart science whiz kid attending Horizon High.

Marvel opted to just gloss over Uncle Ben's death, dropping a few references, in Tom Holland's first solo outing as the web-slinging hero in Spider-Man: Homecoming last month and instead introduced Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) as Peter's reluctant mentor. Some fans were on board with the move given how beaten the plot point is from all the other Spider-Man films in the last 15 years. Others, however, felt like it was such a pivotal character building incident for the budding superhero for it to not be included. The new Disney XD animated show, however, promises to effectively incorporate and build off of Uncle Ben's death - a tease of which has already been rolled out via a featurette that introduced to Patton Oswalt's take on Peter's first real mentor.

In a new interview with Screen Rant, Cort Lane, Senior Vice President, Animation and Family Entertainment at Marvel, has explained why it was pivotal for the new animated Spider-Man show to make sure that Uncle Ben and his death has a prominent effect on Peter's approach to being a superhero:

Patton Oswalt recording lines as Uncle Ben

"A boy like Peter, with all the challenges that he has in life – and especially the challenges after Uncle Ben died – the idea that he puts on the suit and gets beaten up by villains and loses a lot and makes sacrifices in his personal life to be Spider-Man... it's a stretch, so... [Peter] has to remember Uncle Ben, and remember the mistake that he made that cost him his uncle. I think you need that touchstone to make that believable. Because as good a kid as Peter is, that is a hard choice to make every day. You lose so much. So that's why we thought it was important to give that connection with Uncle Ben."

Further, the exec has also touched on the subject of delving deep into the dynamic of a mentor-mentee relationship and how having someone to look up to, whether he is good or bad, has a massive effect in terms of  molding the character of young kids:

"There's also an ongoing thread in the show about mentors and the impact -- negative and positive – that they have on the other kid characters. You'll see that play out in Harry and Gwen's story quite a bit. And Max Modell has an important role to play, so a through-line about what impact adult mentors have on kids' lives is an important story throughout. Uncle Ben, of course, is the most important one."

Admittedly, while the show treads a similar narrative - one that we have seen a few other times already, Marvel's Spider-Man will try to quickly find its footing by differentiating itself from the other Spider-Man stories out there. On top of presenting Peter in the early stages of being Queen's friendly neighborhood hero - fresh from his radioactive spider bite and Uncle Ben's tragic death, the show is also infusing its story with darker concepts without going overboard for technically a kid's show.

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Marvel’s Spider-Man premieres Saturday, August 19 on Disney XD.

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