The portrayal of Peter Parker’s occupation and hobbies, such as being a photographer for The Daily Bugle, differs across different Spider-Man movies.
The origins of Spider-Man’s powers, the nature of his web-shooters, and the characters who die in his story vary among the different movie franchises.
In the last 20 years, Spider-Man has become one of the most recognizable figures in popular culture, but there are still some things about his story that the movies can’t agree on. Ten Spider-Man films have been released since 2002, with each introducing a unique take on the character. While the core story remains the same of a teenage boy from New York City developing superhuman, spider-like abilities, everything beyond this premise has been left up to interpretation by the directors who have brought the character to life.
Each of Spider-Man’s cinematic story arcs pulls widely from his comic book source material to present different takes on his love life, the losses he’s endured, which villains he fights, which superheroes he teams up with, and more. Sometimes Spider-Man is a young high schooler trying to balance his new superpowers with classes and school dances, and other times he’s fighting to keep his job and propose to the girl he loves. While Spider-Man’s powers and willingness to become a hero remain crucial aspects of his character in all his movies, it is clear that the minds behind these iterations have different ideas of what makes Spider-Man, Spider-Man.
10 If Peter Parker Works For The Daily Bugle
For Peter Parker, being Spider-Man is understandably the most important occupation in his life, but the Spider-Man movies also give insight into Peter’s hobbies outside his masked crime fighting, notably his interest in photography. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s versions of Peter are both amateur photographers, taking pictures around their high school. They are also comic book faithful in that they capitalize on their superhero personas by taking photos of themselves as Spider-Man and selling them to The Daily Bugle.
This grounds Maguire’s character in the time period his story is set in, as only Peter is able to get high-quality photos of Spider-Man due to the limited technologies of the time. Tom Holland’s Peter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, on the other hand, exists in a world of social media and smartphones, so his Spider-Man becomes a viral Internet sensation overnight, removing the narrative necessity of him being a photographer. Holland’s Peter is famously exposed to the world as Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Far From Home, in a phone video villain Mysterio leaks to The Daily Bugle.
9 Who Is Behind Peter Parker Getting Spider-Man Powers
Every movie version of Peter Parker gains his abilities after being bitten by a radioactive spider, but the origins of this spider differ. Maguire’s Peter is bitten while on a field trip to a genetics laboratory at Columbia University. Garfield’s Peter is bitten after he sneaks into the science and technology corporation Oscorp to gather intel on the death of his father. While small, the change plays into the themes of each of the films.
In Maguire’s case, anyone could have become Spider-Man had they just toured the laboratory at the right time, which plays into the idea that anyone can be Spider-Man, no matter their background. Garfield’s Peter being bitten at Oscorp, on the other hand, foreshadows that some secretive, perhaps unethical genetic testing concerning animals is taking place, speaking to Oscorp’s corrupt practices, which Peter spends a lot of time investigating.
8 Whether Spider-Man’s Web-Shooters Are Organic Or Synthetic
Spider-Man’s most iconic skill is the ability to swing from building to building using spider-like webbing that he shoots from his wrists. However, Spider-Man movies differ on whether these web shooters are organic or not. Most versions, including Garfield’s, Holland’s Spider-Man in the MCU, and the many iterations of Spider-Man shown in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, follow comic book canon and introduce the web shooters as Spider-Man’s inventions. Peter in particular is depicted as a science genius, so building the shooters and synthesizing high-quality, durable webbing is a testament to his brilliance.
Maguire’s Peter famously differs. After this version of Peter is bitten, he discovers his ability to organically produce webbing and launch it from his wrists. This becomes a major plot point in Spider-Man 2, when Peter finds himself unable to produce webbing while he’s dealing with inner and interpersonal conflicts. It is only after Peter comes to better understand his role as Spider-Man and repairs the relationships in his life that he is able to shoot webs again. The organic webbing makes explicit a common theme across all Spider-Man franchises, which is that being a hero is just as much about mindset as it is about powers; the latter are useless without the former.
7 How Old Peter Parker Is When He Gets Spider-Man Powers
One significant reason why Spider-Man is so beloved is his age. Peter is only a teenager when he gets bitten, making him more accessible than the intimidating, full-grown men often depicted as heroes. Maguire’s Peter is the oldest out of the three, being bitten during his senior year of high school, putting him around age 18. He spends the rest of the trilogy navigating the instability of young adulthood, lending that story unique maturity.
Maguire’s Peter contrasts significantly with Holland’s, who is only 14 when he gains powers. This Peter goes to homecoming, participates in academic decathlon, and applies to college with his friends. These beats, combined with Holland’s youth, make his Peter’s story feel more like a coming-of-age tale than Maguire’s.
Garfield’s Peter fits right in the middle, as he’s bitten two years before he graduates from high school, putting him around 16. This Peter deals with youthful conflicts such as bullies and crushes, but they do not hold the same weight in his story as they do in Holland’s. When Garfield’s Peter graduates from high school in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it feels like he’s transitioning into dealing with similar struggles as Maguire’s Peter.
6 Whether George Stacy Dies
As one of Peter Parker’s main love interests in the comics, Gwen Stacy appears in multiple Spider-Man movie franchises, as does her father, Captain George Stacy. Captain Stacy doesn’t approve of Spider-Man’s vigilante actions, so he often tries to find and capture him. In The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain Stacy helps Spider-Man in his battle against The Lizard, and upon learning Spider-Man is Peter, makes him promise he’ll stay away from Gwen to keep her safe, right before he dies.
Captain Stacy’s death is so integral to Spider-Man’s story that it is treated as a canon event in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. However, not every iteration of Spider-Man experiences this loss. Maguire’s Peter only meets Captain Stacy briefly and does not experience losing him. Even if he did, the death would not be as impactful for his character, as his primary love interest is MJ, not Gwen. Holland’s Peter never even comes in close contact with a police captain or meets Gwen. Altogether, the changing role Captain Stacy plays in Peter’s life in the franchises works to challenge the idea of canon events.
5 If Spider-Man Meets Or Becomes An Avenger
Holland’s Peter is unique in that he was first introduced as a minor character in Captain America: Civil War. As a member of the MCU, Holland’s Spider-Man frequently finds himself interacting with other notable Marvel heroes like the Avengers, especially in major crossover movies. Peter is famously pronounced an Avenger by Tony Stark in Avengers: Infinity War.
The other Peters are self-contained in their narratives and don’t meet other heroes until they are transported to MCU Peter’s universe in Spider-Man: No Way Home. This is largely due to Sony Pictures owning the character of Spider-Man but not many other Marvel characters like the Avengers. Disney and Sony famously struck a deal to allow Spider-Man to appear in the MCU, which eventually led to the superstar crossover in No Way Home.
4 Who Spider-Man’s First Villain Is
Almost immediately after assuming the Spider-Man mantle, Peter finds himself facing off against evil villains, who differ across the three franchises. Maguire’s Peter faces off against the Green Goblin, arguably Spider-Man’s most famous villain and arch-nemesis from the comics. Peter’s defeat of him causes an immense, almost deadly rift in his friendship with Harry Osborn, who blames Spider-Man for his father’s death.
Garfield’s Peter first faces off against the Lizard, aka Dr. Curt Connors, a scientist at Oscorp who genetically experiments on himself. Dr. Connors was a close friend of Peter’s father, and Peter, trusting him, actually tells Connors his father’s secret algorithm that enables him to complete his experiment.
Holland’s Peter, in his first solo fight away from the Avengers, battles Adrian Toomes, or the Vulture, an illegal arms dealer specializing in intergalactic weaponry, who just happens to be the father of Peter’s crush Liz. Though each villain is different, they all begin as mild-mannered, trustworthy men who mean a lot to the people Peter cares about. Their crimes then force Peter to mature and realize the world is not black and white.
3 Whether Spider-Man’s Endgame Love Interest Is MJ Or Gwen Stacy
Throughout all of Spider-Man media, Peter has had two iconic love interests. Maguire’s Peter has been in love with his MJ since he was a child, but once they are together, their relationship is rocky, to put it lightly. He briefly dates Gwen Stacy, but only to make MJ jealous. When Maguire’s Peter arrives in the universe of Holland’s Peter, he mentions that he and MJ “took a while, but we made it work.“
Garfield’s Peter is in love with Gwen, but their story ends in tragedy, with Gwen dying in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. When Garfield’s Peter meets Holland’s Peter, he implies that he never really moved on from Gwen’s death, so it is unclear whether he will end up with someone else.
Holland’s Peter is in a relationship with an MJ (notably not “Mary Jane” but “Michelle Jones”), but at the climax of No Way Home, she forgets he exists. Miles develops feelings for a Gwen Stacy from an alternate universe, but she’s cautious as she knows the story of Spider-Man and Gwen usually ends in tragedy across universes. So, as of the current state of all the Spider-Man franchises, for the most part, the character’s endgame isn’t MJ or Gwen Stacy; he simply ends up alone.
2 Which Of Spider-Man’s Friends & Family Die
While Spider-Man’s youthful charm and sarcastic characterization often make his tales seem more lighthearted, his story is stricken with unimaginable loss which becomes a core tenet of his character. However, Peter continues to experience death even beyond the expected loss of his parents and Uncle Ben.
Maguire’s Peter loses Harry after he assumes his father’s mantle as Green Goblin. Garfield’s Peter grieves Captain Stacy and Gwen. Holland’s Peter has to say goodbye to his father figure and mentor Tony Stark at the end of Avengers: Endgame and Aunt May in No Way Home. Meanwhile, in Across the Spider-Verse, Miles has already suffered a great loss with the death of his Uncle Aaron and actively resists when the Spider Society tries to convince him that his father must die, too. This offers a metatextual commentary questioning whether Spider-Man’s story must be riddled with so much trauma and grief.
1 Who Says Spider-Man’s Iconic “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” Line
Arguably the most famous line in all of superhero popular culture is “With great power comes great responsibility,” first originated in the Spider-Man comics. The Spider-Man motto has been rephrased and referenced countless times in mainstream media, and each Spider-Man franchise has a different take on who says the iconic line. Uncle Ben famously says it to Peter in the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man, while Aunt May says a variation of the phrase as her dying words to Holland’s Peter in No Way Home.
Miles’ father Jeff Davis hilariously remixes the line in Into the Spider-Verse, saying, “With great ability comes great accountability,” to which Miles quips, “That’s not even how the saying goes, Dad!” Regardless of who says the line, its message is repeated time and time again throughout Spider-Man‘s journey to becoming a hero and has resonated with audiences for generations.
Key Release Dates
Captain America: Brave New World
Marvel’s Fantastic Four
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty
Avengers: Secret Wars
The Spider-Man movies have some key differences. Read More