When Spider-Man publicly unmasked himself as Peter Parker, it changed his life…and also ruined what made him Marvel’s most famous superhero.
marvel’s Spider Man keeps his identity tightly secret – because revealing it would not only ruin his life, but ruin the whole character’s appeal. Peter Parker is often stylized as the Everyman of the Marvel Universe, doing his best to balance his personal life with his life as a superhero. Peter has occasionally told others about his secret Spider-Man identity (and the occasional supervillain has occasionally exposed him as well), but in What if…? Civil War #1he is unmasked in a completely different context – after his death.
Spider-Man’s debut in Incredible Fantasy #15 in 1963 was unlike any other superhero story on the market at the time. Peter didn’t come from a wealthy family, he wasn’t well liked at school, and most notably, he wasn’t the main hero’s teenage sidekick, but the hero himself. Over the years, he’s made a name for himself as Spider-Man, and while New York City certainly has mixed feelings about the wallcrawler, he’s quickly made many friends within the community. superhero community. Peter Parker was famous – but only among those around him, and no one would notice him without the suit.
It changes to Civil war, where Peter Parker comes out publicly to help Iron Man’s pro-listing side. The move backfires spectacularly, and Peter’s life is nearly ruined by the amount of attention given to him, his friends, and his family. Peter almost dies as a result of his decisions – but in What if…? Civil War #1he does Is die, killed by a stray shot in a fierce battle between heroes and Sentinels. At the morgue, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents unmask Spider-Man’s body (in this reality, he had yet to publicly unmask) and no one knows his face. “Just a guy,” thinks the coroner. “Nobody important.”
Peter immediately loses his status as an ordinary man whenever he is unmasked. While a public outing is often the next step for a superhero (see Captain America in 2001 when he publicly revealed his identity as Steve Rogers), Spider-Man would lose his appeal as a stand-in for the reader. Marvel is aware of this and has gone to great lengths to return everything moments of Spider-Man’s unmasking in the comics (see the end of Spider-Man: One More Day) and even the MCU (the end of Spider-Man: No Coming Home).
In fact, the only correct way to unmask Peter is after he dies – that’s exactly what’s happening here. The “Just a Guy” The commentary is precisely who Spider-Man is: Peter isn’t born special at all, and aside from his intelligence, he’s just another face in the crowd. Anytime Spider Man unmasks, he becomes a celebrity like Iron Man or Reed Richards, which is precisely what he should never become.
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