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Adaptation Induced Misconceptions
- Everybody knows that Liz Allan was Peter's first girlfriend—except she wasn't. Peter had a crush on her in high school, and Liz briefly had a crush on him after he started going out with Betty Brant, but they never actually dated. In the comics, Liz's most significant love interests are Flash Thompson (her high school boyfriend) and Harry Osborn (her eventual husband). The animated series The Spectacular Spider-Man was the first adaptation that portrayed her as Peter's girlfriend, and the live-action film Spider-Man: Homecoming followed suit.
- As far as most folks know, Spider-Man's chief superpower is his ability to shoot webs. Except this is not among his superpowers at all. Web shooting was instead the ability of a device Peter Parker had built for himself. Spider-Man's actual superpowers are his ability to cling to walls, his "Spider-Sense", and superhuman strength and agility, which all help leverage the usefulness of the device. It's only in the Spider-Man Trilogy movies that he gained the power to shoot webs naturally, although this did make its way to the comics, briefly.
- Due to adaptions generally leaving out the more complex aspects of Mary Jane's character, the Raimi films especially, MJ seems to be seen in the general census as a typical cliché superhero love-interest; part popular girl wish-fulfilment fantasy for a Give Geeks a Chance story, part Damsel Scrappy constantly in need of rescue. In actuality, even before her backstory was expanded upon, her main role was more the comic relief than damsel-in-distress, and though she was pretty and popular with boys, she was hated by her female classmates, meaning that she wasn't even the popular girl in school (not to mention Peter met her after he'd finished school and grown out of being a 'geek'). The Character Development and expansion on her backstory furthers this, as its established that she was the one actually chasing Peter but afraid thanks to her insecurities (making it a case of 'Give Self-Conscious Girls a Chance'), and she'd developed into an Action Survivor who's more liable to escape and help save Peter than the other way around when in harm's way, who's also a highly valuable asset to Peter.
- Another one that's been pointed out after the first issue of 2019's The Amazing Mary Jane, but the aforementioned popular perception of MJ being an unattainable wish-fulfilment character for a Give Geeks a Chance story often ignores that MJ herself is pretty adorkable herself; her first appearance has her happily, goofily dancing to music on the TV, and her upbeat energy generally gives her a fun weirdo vibe. Again, part of this is adaptations often downplay this to composite her with Liz and Gwen, who were popular girl types, even as the latter was re-written to be a nerd like Peter in modern updates.
- Everybody knows that Venom has the same powers as Spider-Man, just more powerful. In reality, Venom mimics Spider-Man's powers through Voluntary Shapeshifting—but his powers also allow him to regrow limbs, increase his size, create appendages, form makeshift weapons, and even grow wings and fly. For most of the character's history, he just used his powers to mimic Spider-Man's web-slinging due to their psychic connection.
- The Klyntar—the Venom symbiote's species—are not an Always Chaotic Evil race bent on destruction. This originally appeared to be the case, but it's since been established in Venom (Donny Cates) that they're actually a peaceful race. They were previously corrupted by Knull, who forced them to conquer other worlds, but they deeply regretted their past actions after overthrowing him, and even tried to atone by spreading peace throughout the universe. Most of the villainous Klyntar that Spider-Man has encountered over the years (like Venom and Carnage) were corrupted by their hosts' negative emotions, contributing to the misconception.
- Despite the name, Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) is not a Distaff Counterpart of Spider-Man, and she has no connection to him whatsoever. Apart from having a spider gimmick and a few of the same superpowers, they have practically nothing in common. Jessica got her powers from a chemical serum created by her scientist father (not a radioactive spider), she primarily works as a spy (not a reporter), and she has plenty of powers that Peter Parker doesn't have—including energy blasts and pheromone manipulation. By most accounts, Marvel Comics only created the character to prevent another company from claiming the rights to the name "Spider-Woman", and they never intended her to be a part of Spider-Man's supporting cast.note
- Everyone knows that Spider-Man is a teenager, which has led to much mocking about Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield being too old to play the high school student. This has led many to claim that this is way Tom Holland's films were more accurate in the comics since he was cast when he was 19. While Maguire and Garfield were in their late twenties while their iterations of the characters were 18 and 17 respectively, Spider-Man hasn't been in high school since 1965, having graduated in issue 28 before attending ESU in issue 31. This means that he was only in high school for three years, and over the next few decades Peter aged into his late twenties before Comic-Book Time really stopped his progression. As a result, many of his most beloved and iconic storylines and supporting cast came after he graduated.
- Everybody knows that Eugene "Flash" Thompson is a Jerk Jock who relentlessly bullies Peter. This was true in the early days of the comics, but it hasn't been true for decades. Flash went through considerable Character Development after his introduction, and matured considerably after he joined the Army; later writers also humanized him considerably by revealing that his father was an abusive alcoholic. Since then, he has been consistently portrayed as one of Peter's best friends; when Peter and MJ got married, he was even the best man at their wedding. Not to mention that he had a brief stint as a superhero when he became the heroic Agent Venom.
- Contrary to popular belief, the Alternate Universe version of Gwen Stacy from Earth-65 (the world where Peter died, and Gwen became a superhero) isn't actually named "Spider-Gwen". That's the title of the comic book that she originally starred in, but her name was actually "Spider-Woman"; Marvel elected not to call the book Spider-Woman to avoid confusion with Jessica Drew's series (which was still ongoing at the time). More recently, she's begun going by the name "Ghost-Spider".
- Everyone knows that Uncle Ben told Peter that "With great power comes great responsibility". Actually, when this famous line first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15, Uncle Ben didn't say it. In fact, nobody said it: it was a line in the narration. The various Spider-Man adaptations popularized the idea that Uncle Ben said it shortly before his death, and the idea proved so popular that the comics retroactively worked it in. The idea that the quote is Peter's personal motto isn't incorrect, but it's a relatively recent addition to the comics.
- Everybody knows that Peter often has a poor love life because of his double life as Spider-Man, and he's wary about dating because he doesn't want to involve a woman in his dangerous life. This idea mostly originated in the Sam Raimi movies, which used it as a convenient source of drama. In the comics, Peter has a very active love life, and he's been dating various women more-or-less constantly since he became Spider-Man. (That doesnt mean things always go smoothly.) Even Gwen Stacy's murder—usually portrayed as the most traumatic experience of his life—didn't really put him off dating, and he began dating Mary Jane Watson almost immediately after mourning Gwen.
- On account of The Reveal of the Green Goblin coinciding with Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel, fans and even industry professionals have claimed that it stemmed specifically from disagreements over his identity, which is not borne out by the original comics, research into production, and Ditko's own statements:
- The most common theory voiced is that Ditko objected to Norman Osborn being the Green Goblin because to him making an industrialist a bad guy was against his objectivist beliefs (at least according to this reading). Except businessmen bad guys abound in the comics during Ditko-Lee's run (and showing businessmen as bad guys is something even Ayn Rand did), and Norman Osborn in the few issues he appeared in Ditko's run was always a sinister shady dude, embezzling Mendell Stromm and in Ditko's final issue, siccing a mob on Spider-Man while wearing a disguise. Likewise as per the Marvel Method, Ditko was the one who designed and plotted the story, which means all the in-panel foreshadowing and villainous portrayal of Osborn was planted by Ditko, as he himself pointed out in one of his few opinions on the matter:Now digest this: I knew from Day One, from the first GG story, who the GG would be. I absolutely knew because I planted him in J. Jonah Jamesons businessman's club, it was where JJJ and the GG could be seen together. I planted them together in other stories where the GG would not appear in costume, action. I wanted JJJs and the GGs lives to mix for later story drama involving more than just the two characters. I planted the GGs son (same distinctive hair style) in the college issues for more dramatic involvement and storyline consequences. So how could there be any doubt, dispute, about who the GG had to turn out to be when unmasked?
- As an addendum to showing businessman as bad guys, in the original comics, both Norman and Harry Osborn were shown as unsympathetic douchebags, with Harry Osborn in particular being a snob with no redeeming qualities. It was only in the Romita-Lee era, that more sympathetic qualities were given to both characters and the split personality between Norman and Goblin was invented. The Randian element in Ditko's run is more or less Peter being opposed on sides and being seen as anti-social when he's actually brilliant and special, and making Peter the target of scorn from snobs like Ditko's Harry Osborn was entirely consistent with that.
- Ditko's origin for Norman fits into the Randian paradigm of "moochers" and "looters;" it's heavily implied that Stromm was the engineering genius behind Osborn Industries and that Norman's Goblin gadgets are stuff Stromm created, which Norman took after forcing Stromm out of the business. Even after Ditko left, the origin Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr., created for Norman had elements of this: the Goblin serum that empowers him is Stromm's creation.
- The other reason given for this is that Ditko didn't like the idea of the villain being someone known to Peter, feeling it was too melodramatic and cliche, and that he wanted Green Goblin to be an Unknown Rival to Peter. In the original run, villains such as Big Man aka Frederick Foswell was familiar to the hero in both his civilian identity (as a Daily Bugle reporter) and as a villain, the Big Man. More than that, at the time, Peter Parker had no interactions or meaningful connections to Norman at all, except via One Degree of Separation from J. Jonah Jameson (who was not exactly best pals with Peter in-and-out-of costume). He met Harry Osborn at college at ESU and the two hated each other at the time, and it was Romita who codified their friendship, so in either case, Norman Osborn being revealed as Green Goblin would not really count as someone personally known to Peter.
- The most common theory voiced is that Ditko objected to Norman Osborn being the Green Goblin because to him making an industrialist a bad guy was against his objectivist beliefs (at least according to this reading). Except businessmen bad guys abound in the comics during Ditko-Lee's run (and showing businessmen as bad guys is something even Ayn Rand did), and Norman Osborn in the few issues he appeared in Ditko's run was always a sinister shady dude, embezzling Mendell Stromm and in Ditko's final issue, siccing a mob on Spider-Man while wearing a disguise. Likewise as per the Marvel Method, Ditko was the one who designed and plotted the story, which means all the in-panel foreshadowing and villainous portrayal of Osborn was planted by Ditko, as he himself pointed out in one of his few opinions on the matter: