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Ethics of Spider Man
The character Spider Man is a foundational superhero of the modern era. His history and life demonstrate the development of an ordinary and even some would say subpar or at the very least "un-cool" young adolescent into a super hero by a twist of fate, i.e. being bit by a genetically modified spider on a science filed trip. The early life of the Spider Man character as depicted in both comic books, television cartoons and movies in live action or animation depict a young man, who stumbles upon a great power and then struggles with how to use that power. In the 2002 film depiction, and true to the comic storyline Peter's/Spiderman's ethics are developed through the film as he struggles with his new found powers, seizing the opportunity to use them for personal gain, by attempting to win money as an amateur fighter/wrestler in a contest that ends with his victory, him not getting paid by the promoter and a robbery of that promoter in which he does not intervene. His lack of intervention leads to the death of his uncle, who has been his surrogate father and moral compass after being orphaned at a young age. For Peter this death and the words of wisdom espoused by his uncle (Ben), "with great power comes great responsibility," become his moral guide and in many ways determine his ethical goals as a fledgling super hero.
Though Spider Man/Peter Parker is never outwardly depicted as a church goer his character is an exception to the many super hero characters that overtly skirt the issue of religion while depicting a strong ethical/moral slant. Parker is depicted in several works as a person who prays and to a single deity, a believer in the mainstream Christian God. One example of this can be found in The Amazing Spider-Man volume 2, issue #46, pages 6-8; written by J. Michael Straczynski, where Parker is depicted as praying for guidance and/or intervention in a very personal scene where he says to God, "Hey, God? It's Peter again..." (p.8) The religious slant does not take over the character but in the same line that has developed a very ordinary person into a super hero the mainstream religious/ethical depiction Parker's believability and likeability is supported. Parker using a conglomeration of personal normative ethics becomes a believable character that demonstrates a constant pull between using his powers for self, i.e. To woo his chosen love (Mary Jane) and conversely to protect her and others from personal demise as a result of knowing him. The remainder of his hero like interventions in the world are depicted as altruistic, as he saves the world from utter demise over and over again, first from the green goblin, who happens to be his best friend's father, whom he falls just short of killing in a duel but is nonetheless blamed for doing so by his best friend.
The moral and ethical standard of not killing is supported by his nameless dalliances in saving individuals from crime on the streets as he gains strength and notoriety, never killing his enemy but simply leaving them conveniently confined for the police. His moral/ethical agony over killing is an example of an ethical line he has drawn based on his normative ethics, as a member of a dominant though not overtly religious, but religious nonetheless ethical characterization. His dalliances in crime fighting and more superseding challenges, fighting the big guys the Green Goblin in one character depiction (2002) and Doctor Octopus in another (2004) are demonstrative of his personal struggle with egoism and altruism, mentioned earlier as an overriding theme in Spiderman's character. His often personal struggle to maintain his "friendship" and hope for more with Mary Jane and his friendship with Harry Osborn (the son of the Green Goblin character) often leave him making hard ethical choices.
The underlying theme in the first modern film depiction (2002) as well as in the second (2004) is Parker's overriding desire to reveal himself to Mary Jane, after he develops a relationship with her as Spider Man. Yet, he is constantly reminded of the foolishness of this potential choice as one by one all his close friends and family are hurt or threatened by their affiliation with him. The third modern film depiction (2007) is a fictional play of this very struggle, egoism and altruism, as Parker/Spider Man is overwhelmed by the melding of himself with a dark entity that…[continue]
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