3 embarrassing Spider-Man moments you won't see in the movies

We recently covered 3 moments in Captain America’s history that Marvel won’t be rushing to open up to public scrutiny, and hell, we didn’t even bring up the time he found out that Richard Nixon was an actual supervillain and not just a tricky dick!

In the Marvel-verse, Presidents either shoot themselves or end up getting vaporized in one of those bi-weekly alien invasions.

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Here, I’ll be talking about Spider-Man and his early days of living with his chronically dying aunt (who was either senile or just humoring him, because he’s literally the worst person at keeping a secret identity). For Spidey, the 1960s were a never-ending parade of humiliation that helped shape Peter Parker into the rancid swamp of self-loathing and textbook school shooter personality that has made him one of Marvel’s most identifiable heroes.

Little did Flash Thompson know that his life had just been saved by an obsessive martyr complex.

1. The Incredible Shrinking Costume

Despite his status as an identifiable everyman, Peter Parker did have the advantage of being ridiculously smart. Maybe not to the extent of characters like Reed Richards, who was basically able to invent magic pants (oh I’m sorry, “unstable molecules“) in his garage right after undergoing an incredibly traumatic mutation, but still, pretty damn impressive for a poor kid from Queens. Despite being about one missed mortgage payment away from renting a cardboard box, Parker was still able to cobble together both a pair of web-shooters (at a time when a TV was the size of a Volkswagen) and a slick, well-designed costume despite otherwise dressing like he was on his way to an extremely nerdy funeral.

Maybe he’d get bullied less if he didn’t look like he shopped at the Gap for Victorian-Era Schoolmasters?

Which makes this example even more odd than it would have been otherwise. By Amazing Spider-Man #26, Peter had managed to lose both of his Spider-Man costumes, one which he had to abandon while fighting J. Jonah Jameson’s Spider-Slayer, which ended up hanging in Jameson’s office like some creepy stalker’s trophy case, and the other which had been found by Aunt May (to prevent his Cryptkeeper-lookalike aunt from stroking out on the spot, Peter told her it was a Halloween costume, which she confiscated… for some reason). So, rather than making a new costume like he made the first two, Spider-Man had to resort to drastic measures; he bought an actual Halloween costume to fight crime in. Problem was, it turns out cheap sweatshop spandex doesn’t stretch very well.

You see the same thing whenever fights break out over the collectible toys at comic conventions.

Spider-Man eventually resorted to stealing back his original costume from Jameson after spending part of the story committing indecent exposure while swinging over Manhattan. You’d think that one adventure involving a comically humiliating costume would have been enough, but nope, a few decades later it happened again, though this time, it was because he had just gotten rid of the Venom symbiote and had to go home in a pair of the Fantastic Four’s old pajamas.

Even the Hulk doesn’t get this much humiliation, and using his powers means that he’s going to wake up half-naked in a cornfield.

2. Sandman’s Lame Weakness

This entry isn’t strictly about Spider-Man himself, but one of his oldest foes: Flint Marko, a.k.a. the Sandman. Sandman was originally just some random asshole who happened to stumble across a beach full of sand that had been irradiated by nuclear testing. Yeah, you thought real-world governments were irresponsible with their nuclear policies; Marvel’s Earth makes North Korea look like a Greenpeace convention.

Boy, I sure hope being covered in millions of tiny radioactive shards of glass won’t have any sort of negative effects.

Sandman, being a high school dropout, couldn’t think of anything more creative to do with his new physics-defying powers than use them to continue his life of petty crime. Spider-Man had some initial problems fighting the guy, since it’s difficult to punch someone who’s technically just a sand sculpture with a drinking problem. One of their first fights eventually led Sandman to Peter Parker’s high school, where he decided to take a break from his crime spree to try to extort a high school diploma from the principal. Yeah, seriously, Sandman tried to hold up a high school for a graduation diploma like he was stealing overcooked hot dogs from a 7/11.

If he thinks this is how diplomas work, no wonder he dropped out of high school.

By this point, Spider-Man had decided that it probably wasn’t safe to have an unstable, un-killable psychopath running loose in a school full of extremely killable teenagers, so he had to quickly figure out a way to disable Sandman. Presumably, Steve Ditko had written himself into a corner, because the story suddenly turns into an old Abbot and Costello gag; Spider-Man uses a vacuum cleaner to suck up the invincible maniac, and this is seriously how the fight ends. Yeah, the villain who couldn’t be punched, shot or held could apparently be taken out by trapping him in a flimsy tube of aluminum.

Still a better story than Spider-Man 3.

Oh, and we’re not done yet. Spider-Man remembers that he forgot to take photos of the fight to sell to the Daily Bugle, so he decides to finish up his day defrauding J. Jonah Jameson and re-staging the fight against Sandman. By which I mean, he throws a bunch of sand into the air and pretends to fight it. Spidey decides that there’s nothing unethical about this because he’s just recreating something that actually happened. I’m not a journalist or anything, but I’m pretty sure news photography doesn’t work like that.

“Next, I’ll need to re-create my celebratory make-out session with Brigitte Bardot!”

3. The Green Goblin’s Fake Movie

We’ve talked before about how unbearably silly the Green Goblin was when he first debuted, what with the rocket powered broomstick making it look like he was riding around on a metal dildo, but here, we’re going to take a closer look at exactly what his very first evil plot was. The story begins with the Goblin riding around randomly above New York City (which even in the ’60s should have set off some warning bells) hoping to catch Spider-Man’s attention… because he wants to offer him a movie role. Spidey, who for some reason hasn’t learned to be wary of lunatics in creepy costumes yet, immediately agrees. Apparently, Aunt May never had the Stranger Danger talk with him.

“Sure! It’s not like every other attempt I’ve made at an entertainment career has ended in the death of my loved ones or anything.”

So Spidey, seeing apparently nothing suspicious about a movie producer sending a Halloween monster after him to offer him a movie gig, or that the movie set is out in the middle of nowhere with no crew, happily goes along with this, even meeting the “actors” who are playing his old enemies the Enforcers. Really good actors too, who look, sound, act, and even have the same bruises he gave the real Enforcers.

“Good thing I’m dangerously naive or this might seem a bit suspicious!”

So naturally, the very first fight scene of course turns out to be just an ambush, which makes the whole plot seem needlessly complicated, since they could just as easily have jumped him while he was chatting with Green Goblin in the first place. Shockingly, the Enforcers turn out to be just as bad at fighting someone with superpowers as they were the last time they tried it, and the whole plot ends up becoming moot when it turns out the movie set happens to be where the Hulk is currently clomping around and whining about how no one will leave him alone after he’s leveled a bunch of army bases. Good thing we spent so much of the issue setting up a cartoonish scheme that had no way of working and ended up becoming superfluous anyway.

That is one loquacious Hulk.

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  • Captain’s Orders

    Nowhere near is bad as anything recent…Osburn apparently had sex with Gwen Stacy and they even had twins..which of course were aged to adulthood and had super powers and went after spidey. the Clone Saga..nuff said. And of course the story where Spidey MAKES A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL!!!!

  • Greenhornet

    SANDMAN: “Give me a diploma, or else!”
    PRINCIPAL: “If I do, will you go away?”
    SANDMAN: “Yeah, sure. Why not?”
    PRINCIPAL: “Would you like to be on the honor roll, too?”

  • Deneb T. Hall

    The thing is, though, these sorts of moments are kind of intrinsic to Spidey’s character. ‘That old Parker luck’, remember? The fact that he constantly gets the short end of the stick is one of the things that makes him relatable and identifiable, and makes his victories all the sweeter. As such, I would not be at all surprised if one of those makeshift costume moments made it into the movies at some point – they’re classic Peter Parker moments.

    As for the Sandman/Green Goblin bits, I would point out that for both of them, this was their first appearance. Mocking an older character’s first appearance is frankly somewhat uncool, so far as I’m concerned, because a LOT of them were initially kind of throwaway characters that were popular with the fans and got brought back. The next time the Goblin showed up (so far as I recall), he’d already traded in his ‘broomstick’ for a Goblin Glider and was more or less on his way to being the fearsome foe of today – it’s not the character’s fault that he was still being tinkered around with at this point. And as for the Sandman – yeah, the vacuum business is a little silly, but make the device in question a bit bigger and more powerful-looking, and I’ll bet it’d seem a lot more plausible.