Illustration of a boy dressed as Spider-Man eating popcorn. 

It’s been 20 years since Spider-Man. Have we reached the top superhero? – ABC every day

I’m not even going to pretend I’m the kid in the picture.

When Spider-Man came out 20 years ago in 2002, I was already a grown nerd. And the movie just disappointed me.

It felt so exciting to watch Tobey Maguire (or probably his stunt double) swing through New York City. This wasn’t like Superman flying gracefully above the clouds or Batman sliding in and out of the shadows in Gotham. It was broad daylight, arms and legs swinging, weaving around skyscrapers and swinging precariously close to traffic. Spider-Man was a rollercoaster ride that was barely under control.

There were scenes, characters and poses that I previously only saw on paper, which came to life right before my eyes. Words I now only read were spoken by real people (and not at a comic book convention).

“With great power comes great responsibility.” Damn, that still sends shivers down my spine.

Oh, and then there’s that kiss. You know it.

More than any other film that came before it, Spider-Man was a comic book brought to life.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

Spider-Man has always been the superhero of the people. Superman is too perfect. Too much of a platonic ideal. Batman is cool, but he’s too gloomy. And too rich to be really relatable. But Spidey, you can relate to – a geeky kid who is bullied in school and in love with the hot girl. He’s what every comic book geek wishes they were.

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It really is a coming-of-age story. Spider-Man is about a child who explores his newfound strength and freedom and learns to deal with the consequences of his actions.

And if Peter Parker wakes up and finds that he can now squirt a sticky white liquid isn’t an analogy for a boy going through puberty, I don’t know what it is.

There was also the New York City element. Spidey had always been connected to the city in the comic books, but with the movie that came out less than a year after 9/11, that connection pinned the film to a time, a place, and a mood.

There’s a scene where the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) makes Spider-Man choose between saving the love of his life or a ropeway full of kids. And as they fight, we see a crowd of people on the bridge throwing things at the Green Goblin and defending their man.

“You’re taking on one of us, you’re taking on all of us.”

It sounds corny now, but it has influence.

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