Peter Parker is one of the most popular superheroes of all time and is basically seen as a naive confused kid but despite that (sometimes BECAUSE of that) Spider-Man is not without his detractors. People who dislike him usually do so because of this trope: Battle-hardened self-taught warrior using a combination of wit, intelligence, strength, and bitter experience to become a dangerous foe? Or young, inexperienced, naive newbie who can't keep his mouth shut? Even the writers aren't sure. Some argue that these are not necessarily in conflict, as it is very plausible to imagine the latter during his early years and he starts becoming the former. In his rant aboutMan of Steel, Max Landis calls Spider-Man "a narcissistic bully", and that the reason why his enemies hate him so much is because he bullies and mocks them while he's "breaking their bones". This is actually a pretty common interpretation among detractors of the character, which paints him as a huge hypocrite. Other people counter-argue that what Spidey does is to act as a snarkyBully Hunter, since (at least when well written) he only does it with criminals who had it coming.
Is Peter Parker truly responsible in his use of powers or is he just motivated by teenage angst and guilt and uses his aesop as an excuse to avoid looking beyond his present concerns and thinking deeply about what to really do with his life. This is something that has been discussed for a while by writers themselves in different runs and which Post-OMD has been taken up by fans, namely Linkara in his review of One More DayLampshades how the Static Character nature of Peter's adolescent Heroic Vow looks really really bad when you consider that the character is a proper adult already, since he's been out of high school for over a decade in comic book time, and over five decades in Real Life, having long outgrown multiple generations of teenage audiences who Marvel consider his target demographic.
J. Jonah Jameson has been subject to this a number of times In-UniverseDepending on the Writer bu among fans you get ideas like a /co/post◊ arguing the idea of J. Jonah Jameson as a Secret Secret-Keeper who is tough on Spider-Man in order to motivate him to keep working harder in defending the city. Others see Jameson as a huckster, and the Bugle is a borderline-tabloid, which he uses for his anti-Spidey crusade regardless of facts (an interpretation canonized by Jameson himself in issue #5) and the Butt-Monkey, just there for comic relief. Some argue that Jameson is a good, honest newspaperman, and the Bugle is a good paper, he just happens to have a bug up his butt about Spidey while others point out that Jameson is a psychopath who has commissioned the creation of supervillains and lethal anti-Spidey robots, and he should be in jail.
Does Carnage actually have feelings for Shriek, or is she just a useful tool he'll eventually dispose of? The Carnage miniseries implied it's a combination of the two.
And You Thought It Would Fail: At the time the character was created, teenage "everyman" heroes were seen as exclusively the stuff of sidekicks, and the Marvel bosses were skeptical Spider-Man would sell. As a "compromise" they allowed Lee and Ditko to put the character in an anthology book they knew was going to be canned with that issue, presumably hoping he would be forgotten fairly quickly. The result was an Ensemble Dark Horse of such caliber he had to be given his own book.
Angst Dissonance: One of the recurring issues owing to Peter Parker being presented by writers simultaneously as a "loveable loser" while still being outwardly a Hollywood Nerd at least in stories that lean towards the melodramatic side which many readers note often come across as forced, imposed and shoehorned in and very much disproportionate and unearned in setting and context:
Peter Parker internally sees himself, as Tom Defalco and Ron Frenz noted, as the nebbish spectacled kid he was before he got bitten by the spider, but outwardly from the later Lee-Ditko issues onward, he grew handsome, muscled, and while originally he had difficulty talking to girls, since his first relationship with Betty he had almost never gone without a date or extended periods without a relationship, and many point out that Peter, especially after the OMD retcon where he often has a number of casual encounters and brief relationships, would in real life be considered a womanizer. This ends up making many feel that Peter's excessive angst is absurd and disproportionate.
More as a result of Society Marches On, but owing to Grandfather Clause and the fact that Spider-Man lives and works in a Like Reality Unless Noted version of New York, many fans note that Peter Parker will almost never fall so badly on hard times that he would be forced to move out of one of the most expensive cities in the world (as so many real-life New Yorkers have had to over the years), since Peter Parker and Spider-Man swinging around Manhattan is too iconic a part of the franchise to take out, and as such it becomes increasingly hard to make readers believe that Peter's situation will truly get really bad and desperate.
The issue is addressed, and she is clearly very distressed, but Anna Maria takes the news that her boyfriend was an infamous supervillain who had taken over Peter's body and had now essentially died surprisingly well. You get the impression that she's holding back a breakdown...and then it never happens.
Similarly, she switches from being lovers with Otto-in-Peter's-body to just friends with Peter (while still sharing an apartment with him!) remarkably quickly. It never seems to bother her that Peter doesn't feel the same way about her, or that he almost immediately begins pursuing other romantic interests (her only objection to Peter and Cindy hooking up seems to be that their constant supercharged sex-drive is annoying).
"With great power Comes Great Responsibility". Yes, Uncle Ben, we got it! You don't need to repeat that Aesop at every adaption and alternate universe and at least twice and thrice a year! The sad part is that this was never part of Spider-Man's mythos until 1987, and even then in a one-off team-up issue with Spider-Man and Wolverine.
Ever since OMD, many writers love to have Peter, MJ and other characters talk about how she can't handle the life with him and how much better off she is without him.
The Clone Saga. Probably the textbook example of this trope. A story-arc intended for six months stretched for years with Padding and filler material, forgettable characters, and bizarre retcons and controversial revisions that marked the start of Spider-Man's Dork Age.
The Superior Spider-Man on account of stretching for 20+issues after starting with an Audience-Alienating Premisenote Dr. Octopus hijacking Peter's body that wasn't original to start with (being that the sleek Kraven's Last Hunt did it first) and for the fact that its fallout and consequences has extended to all Spider-Man stories after that, and for the fact that the storyline has, for many fans, made Peter a supporting player to Otto Octavius' story.
The tendency of writers, Post-OMD, to stop Spider-Man from aging and keep him frozen in Comic-Book Time has made a good part of his run feel stagnant. The Post-OMD status-quo in Brand New Day and One More Day which is more or less a retread and composite of bits and pieces from different parts of Peter's post-graduate phase, amounts to spinning wheels about characters and situations as Peter moves through a series of dead-end relationships, gets saddled with gimmicky plotlines that end with Status Quo Is God which is even more frustrating than before because Marvel's editorial have more or less implied that this will be a permanent situation. Many point out that this is absolutely against the spirit of Spider-Man where until the Clone Saga, Spider-Man was known and prized for its consistent growth and advancement and celebrated for maintaining consequences from one run to the next.
One reason why Spider-Man's marriage to Mary Jane was so popular when it happened was that it actually followed a period of fatigue in the Spider-Man comics where after Roger Stern stepped down, Spider-Man's editorial team spun a bunch of wheels in a series of divisive and confusing storylines. The Hobgoblin mystery set up by Stern which was supposed to be resolved with Roderick Kingsley became Continuity Snarl as later writers kept adding Red Herring about who he was supposed to be with the clumsy resolution that ended up perfunctorily killing off Ned Leeds, a long-term supporting character for no good reason. Peter's romance with Felicia Hardy/Black Cat hit a dead end, and the best story in this era wasn't even in the main titles but in the second series ("The Death of Jean DeWolff" published not in Amazing Spider-Man but in The Spectacular Spider-Man) and about the one story arc that many liked was Mary Jane's Character Development in this period, which led them to welcome the marriage whose sudden editorial greenlight also led to a clearing house of a confusing series of stories and provided a new status-quo that allowed for new storylines like Kraven's Last Hunt and Venom to arrive on the scene.
Ass Pull: Flint Marko's FaceHeel Turn. After spending nearly two decades (close to half of his existence) as a good guy, he showed up in the relaunched post-Clone SagaAmazing Spider-Man as a villain again for no explained reason. It took a retcon (see Brainwashed and Crazy on the character page) to explain why he was evil again and ever since then he's gone back to being something closer to an Anti-Villain.
Audience-Coloring Adaptation: Being such a prolific franchise, with tons of adaptations and different interpretations in different media, many characters have been reinterpreted over the decades, and some of these re-imaginings ended up overshadowing the original characterization in the public perception to different degrees.
The 1967 Cartoon introduced a lot of iconic elements of Spider-Man most notably his theme song. The Raimi trilogy popularized the idea that Spider-Man had organic webbing which being that it was the first Live-Action film and the most commercially successful films of his, they remain iconic and indelible parts of how people imagine Spider-Man rather than the mechanical web-shooters he designed. More importantly, the cartoon and film versions and others on account of their focus on Peter's origins and high-school era continue to make audiences see Spider-Man as a teenage hero when most of the Spider-Man stories has had him as an adult. Thanks to the movies use of Marquee Alter Ego and the tendency of Spider-Man villains in movies to decipher his Secret Identity (not only major personal ones like the Green Goblin but minor ones like the Vulture) and the emphasis on Spider-Man being a teenage hero, the general impression people have is that Peter Parker is some blundering kid too in over his head who can't keep his identity secret and who is quite obvious for being Just a Kid. The reality is that in the original Spider-Man comics, his identity was a remarkably well preserved secret, finally deciphered by Green Goblin by means of a special gas that nullifies his Spider-Sense. And the Green Goblin's first reaction on seeing Spider-Man without a mask? Total disbelief that his adversary was that young. Spider-Man was always a struggling scrapping hero but that had to do with his class and income woes, and the fact that he had no backers (no Commissioner Gordon and others) to give him good PR not with his capacity to pull off his double life.
Mary Jane has both benefited from and been hampered by adaptations. It is through them that she primarily became Spidey's most prominent Love Interest. Thanks to the newspaper comic-strip attracting a more adult and widespread audience than the regular comics' did around the late-'80s, she ended up married to Peter which as the first girl who married Peter, gave her a permanent role in the Spider-Man mythos when in the regular comics at the time she had just returned after being Put on a Bus for 40 issues, and taken a role as a close confidant and Peter's best friend albeit with many moments of UST and Ship Tease between them. The iconic screen romance been Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire's Peter in the first two films of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy also made her famous among the non-comics public as Peter's "dream girl". Unfortuantely the weakness of the third film and the tendency of the sequels made her a Damsel Scrappy highlighting the flaws about how she lacked her comics' counterpart charismatic personality while also dialing down her common sense and social awareness that allowed her to be a competent and useful partner for Peter, or as Spider-Man's creators from Gerry Conway to Tom Taylor note, "his equal".
To a lesser degree, Aunt May is mostly seen as a fragile, maybe almost senile old lady due to how she's been portrayed in different adaptations. Downplayed in the sense that she was indeed that fragile during the first decade or so of the comic. But over the years, the writers have been writing her as a livelier and more resilient senior woman, a development that unfortunately haven't been added to many modern adaptations that audiences are more familiar with. This has changed thanks to Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Homecoming
Recent stories inspired by Ultimate Marvel and the MCU often show Spider-Man as being under Iron Man's shadow or being his sidekick and so on. This tends to obscure the fact that Spider-Man in continuity terms is Iron Man's senior, being a superhero before Tony Stark, and before the formation of the Avengers (as seen in Issue #3 of the Avengers where Iron Man goes to Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Spider-Man for help which is played like a young scrappy startup owner trying to find investors with each of the big three telling them their time is too important for him and the Avengers). This dynamic is also Newer Than They Think coming in the 21st Century where Iron Man was upgraded from C-Lister to A-Lister, with Tony taking on a mentor role.
Within the first month, Nick Spencer's run effectively spanked Dan Slott's run by having Peter admit he wasn't acting responsibly post-Superior Spider-Man at all when Peter is accused of plagiarizing Doc Ock's work and and he can't explain why. He also resets Black Cat's personality in one page and the last page of the main story has Peter and Mary Jane reunited and a couple again. It's not a marriage, but we'll take it!
Mary Jane Watson. An interesting case because the split largely occurs between the audience and the creators. Most of the fans love her, while Marvel creators and editors largely don't know what to do with her since she's a popular character with her own loyal fanbase despite being a supporting character with no superpowers (ideally a character who shouldn't provoke such strong feelings). Some fans tend to dislike her too: fans tend to be people who know her long history and/or discovered her in story lines when she was best written, or they're just fanboys with a very loose awareness of her history and just like her because she's hot), while detractors tend to be people who are mostly familiar with the Sam Raimi film trilogy version (which is considered a Damsel Scrappy that is at best a composite of MJ and Gwen Stacy and at worst is MJ In Name Only) and/or her post-One More Day characterization where she's actively written so people stop caring about her, or they're just people who hate her because they prefer another love interest for Spider-Man, usually Gwen Stacy.
Gwen Stacy as well. Even long after her death, there are arguably just as many staunch Peter/Gwen supporters as there are Peter/MJ supporters (especially after Lacey Chabert's portrayal in The Spectacular Spider-Man and Emma Stone's portrayal in the The Amazing Spider-Man Series movies renewed the character, eventually ending in the creation of her most popular version as of yet, Spider-Gwen, and people liking her for different reasons as well (the costume, the snarky musician attitude, and the fact that the so infamous dead girlfriend is given agency), considering her the better of the two love interests. Gwen detractors tend to like these versions but they largely point out that none of these iterations have any resemblance to the original character from the comics and count as mostly In Name Only versions. The fact that Gwen's death is still used by writers as cheap pathos in comics irritates many, especially for storylines like Sins' Past (which ironically brought interest to her despite the damning content of the storynote Namely that she cheated on Peter with Norman Osborn of all people, something that MJ never did and which she out of loyalty to Gwen kept from Peter to avoid scoring brownie points over her romantic rival) which are seen as major stinkers.
Carlie Cooper. She was presented as Peter's Love Interest not so long after One More Day, which understandably caused dissension among fans. Supporters consider she was a good potential romantic interest, but that unfortunately she never really got a fair chance, given it was probably just impossible for any new Love Interest to fill Mary Jane's shoes, especially in those circumstances. Detractors, on their side, only view her as a blatant Creator's Pet (see below) to enforce the new Status Quo, and a walking middle finger to fans of the Spider-Marriage.
Carnage has shades of this; he's seen as a very one note villain by some fans, while others appreciate him precisely for the same reason.
Spider-Man's marriage, between those who saw it as the natural evolution of the character to those who think it "ruined him forever". The latter, it's not so much that they didn't like the change that One More Day came about, but rather just hated the way they went about (un)doing it.
On the same note, there's a split regarding whether Spidey should get married again. A debate that's always been there, but got a particularly strong revival during the build up to Renew Your Vows. Although the pro-marriage side is arguably the most vocal, there are plenty of people who are satisfied with a single Spider-Man. There are also people who take a third option and say that just Peter being in a committed relationship with Mary Jane (or whoever the supported love interested is) would be enough.
There's also a lot of debate about Peter's portrayal since the launch of Brand New Day. To some people, it refreshed the character, while others think it only reinforced his Manchild status.
Among creators and long-time critics, there's the issue of whether Spider-Man is a story about "eternal adolescence" (the ones who argue that the series has been downhill since Stan Lee and Steve Ditko sent him to college and that ideally Spider-Man should never have stopped being a Kid Hero, or the next-best thing being an eternal 20s guy hanging out with Flash and Harry Osborn like the Romita years) or a story about a young man growing up and changing as the story progresses (having dates, girlfriends, marriages and a family). This debate was actually the reason why Gwen Stacy died to start with (since Gerry Conway felt a marriage would age Spidey), later it brought out The Clone Saga, One More Day. Proponents for the first view like Joe Quesada argue that the Teen!Spidey provides better potential for stories, opponents argue that Spider-Man growing up and changing and taking on new responsibilities was a fundamental part of the story and character, citing in particular "If this be My Destiny-" (the high point of the Lee-Ditko era) which was about Peter going from high school to college.
Connected to this is Peter's eternal financial status and his status with the superhero community. Some feel that Peter's only at his best when he's always financially strapped and being the loner, buddy-buddy with teams like the Fantastic Four and the Avengers but never a part of the teams. Others feel that the "always poor Peter" has ran its course and he should be up there with other smart heroes like Tony Stark and Reed Richards and that, with as big as Spidey is in the hero community and the franchise, being part of at least one team is fair game.
For Gerry Conway it was, and still is, Mary Jane Watson, and also Robbie Robertson. The latter character became closer to Peter during his run and years later Conway returned to the title and wrote several Robbie-centric stories for The Spectacular Spider-Man during which he introduced Tombstone as originally a Robbie nemesis, which then spun-off into a main Spidey villain.
Roger Stern largely liked Ditko era villains and wrote Hobgoblin as a homage to him. He also liked the Vulture among Spider-Man's villains, and Felicia Hardy.
J.M. DeMatteis really seemed to have a thing for his villain Vermin as well as Kraven and Chameleon. He also liked Harry Osborn a great deal and wrote several stories developing him (including the famous one "Best of Enemies"). And of course he liked Mary Jane.
Carlie Cooper is a rather contentious example:
She was part of a slew of characters developed by Marvel's Webhead "brain trust" before the final issue of OMD and several issues work on multiple titles had been written and conceptualized before fan feedback set in. It's unlikely that fans would have liked her anyway given OMD but even then she played this rather straight, for example, shortly after being introduced, she was established in "The Many Loves of Spider-Man" (alongside Gwen, MJ, Felicia, the three canonical ships) before their relationship began. Initially she started off as a minor character who just happened to have a crush on Peter, but later on writers cranked it up with Character Shilling and MJ being made into her supporter. She also came off as Suspiciously Similar Substitute with traits from Deb Whitman, Gwen Stacy and even MJ, while also having an inconsistent character design, rather than an entirely fresh individual different from the previous relationships (much like how Betty Brant, was followed by the very different Gwen, followed by the still more different MJ, and then Felicia Hardy). Writers also ignored and changed Peter's own character to try and shill her, such as claiming that they are intellectual equals when Peter going back to the Ditko era, after breaking up with Betty said he didn't want to date girls who saw him as "just an egghead" because he didn't want another "Betty Brant" situation).
Even after they broke up, fans don't like how Carlie was inorganically given major plot developments (such as knowing Peter's identity) that many felt was unearned for a character coming in after more than 40 years of continuity where that status was previously given for popular well-written tried and tested proven characters. Sympathetic fans felt she should have been Put on a Bus and allowed the present ruckus to die down before later writers revisit her and develop her more. Instead, she's become a semi-regular fixture and for future stories and drama even in Nick Spencer's Spider-Man with many taking offense at how in Superior Spider-Man, she is the first person to figure out that Peter was obviously acting incredibly out of character instead of many of his other loved ones who have known Peter for way longer than her (Mary Jane and Aunt May for instance).
Between all the grief Peter goes through in both his personal life and superheroing (most of the former being caused by the latter) and the cyclical nature of the stories (something good happens to Peter, Spider-Man-related incident(s) ruin it, he loses it and he has to start over from the very bottom) it can get frustrating for readers who eventually tire of the predictability of it all and give up on it entirely.
One More Day because of the story does this in a manner that is practically unintentional. EIC Quesada in that story ended Peter and MJ's marriage hoping for a clean slate to go back to the single and relatable and more youthful college era but the fact that the same story verbally had Mephisto state that this was the truest and more purest love either will know and that a part of their soul will suffer forever (and that they lose a child they would have had) means that it's impossible not to see the Post-OMD status-quo as an Ironic Hell, and the essentially Static Character mandate by Marvel casts an overall sense of hopelessness that permeates Spider-Man's current run, since fans know that the Fleeting Demographic Rule will continue to dominate.
Dork Age: Spider-Man is arguably the character most hit with this trope in comics history, with only the X-Men possibly coming close.
Until The '90s, Spider-Man never had a bad decade with great iconic storylines continuing from The '60s to The '80s albeit there was a brief lull in the period between Conway and Roger Stern's run (that most would still agree is pretty consistent in overall execution). But the decade after that was a hard time for Marvel on the whole, and was especially hard on Spider-Man. Venom was initially a runaway success and hit but he quickly became a Spotlight-Stealing Squad and Carnage was seen as a Generic Doomsday Villain. This culminated in Maximum Carnage, a comic that was successful commercially but critically disliked and pilloried by fans for its mix of violence and silliness, with the Wolverine Publicity of Venom wearing out its welcome.
The Clone Saga is the story that marked the start of the rot in Spider-Man's 616 continuity, with its endless retcons, changes, and increasingly convoluted storyline annoying most of the fanbase and setting a pattern that would recur and continue to recur decades later filled with Dashed Plot Line, Aborted Arc, and damaging retcons that ruined the emotional impact of the few good stories (such as Aunt May's death in Issue #400, which many still consider a great story even if a retcon totally ruined the meaning of that story) as well as Gerry Conway's original Clone Saga which is a great story that was completely misread by the team behind the second one, and is tarnished by association as a result. The period after the Clone Saga is also not remembered well, with stories like the fridging of MJ, who by that point had become the emotional center of the entire mythos, and then her revival and "separation" which also coincided with Peter becoming a real sad-sack after merely being a Sad Clown. Followed by a highly unpopular Continuity Reboot by John Byrne (Chapter One). There were bright spots even in this time, such as the Alternate ContinuitySpider-Girl and Ultimate Spider-Man (which came out in 2000). Norman Osborn's return from the dead was initially polarizing, but fans have grown to accept that it was a good decision to restore Spider-Man's greatest enemy even if some question the direction his later stories went and the manner in which it was done.
Of course, it didn't last. The Sins Past storyline ruined much of the goodwill of JMS' run as did The Other. This coupled with poor Pete being caught up in the general Marvel dorkiness of Civil War. Then there was One More Day which polarized the fanbase even more than the Clone Saga did (to the point that the Clone Saga itself is no longer seen as the albatross around Spidey's neck). Sam Raimi's movie trilogy likewise fell into Sequelitis followed later by the polarizing Andrew Garfield films. Ultimate Spider-Man still remained popular despite its association with the increasingly reviled Ultimate Marvel line. During this time, great stories were still being written such as Mark Millar's opening 12 issue arc on Marvel Knights and one-shots like Tom Beland's Web of Romance and Matt Fraction's To Have and to Hold as well as Paul Jenkins entertaining run on The Spectacular Spider-Man and JMS' closing arc in Back to Black was also well received but all of them were overshadowed by OMD, by general consensus, the all-time worst Spider-Man story and one of the worst ever in comics.
Brand New Day was cursed with the poisoned chalice of following on from OMD and it's generally agreed that the early period after that was a mess until Dan Slott's "Big Time". You had a team of multiple writers who had more or less prepared and worked on the story since before OMD was effected working without fan feedback, shilling characters like Carlie Cooper despite being generic in conception and obvious as a Replacement Scrappy. Different writers from multiple teams trying hard to pitch that this is a return to the light-hearted college era despite following on from the most demoralizing Spider-Man story of all time. The continuity problems of how every issue in Spider-Man still happened without the marriage and how Harry somehow still survived wasn't addressed and when it was addressed you had One Moment in Time which even those who like the idea of a single Peter note is as badly written if not worse than OMD which didn't even address the actual continuity issues that JMS noted amounted to precisely what it kept pretending it was not, Spider-Man's own Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Gauntlet a storyline that updated and reimagined Spider-Man's rogues gallery as Darker and Edgier has its admirers as well as detractors, with some finding Shed a story which claims the Lizard was Evil All Along and ends with him eating his own son nasty and unpleasant. People however did like Harry Osborn's resurrection even if it undid a classic story ("Best of Enemies").
Much like JMS, Dan Slott's Spider-Man started out with promise, with Spider-Island being well-liked but things changed with Superior Spider-Man which was polarizing, likable for some, unlikable for others, which also saw other changes made to the character's social circle and background (such as becoming a rich inventor-businessman) that continues to be unpopular among some readers, while also reviving the Kudzu Plot of the Clone Saga. About the only generally well liked parts of Spider-Man in this era, is the Alternate ContinuitySpider-Gwen and Miles Morales, the most prominent survivor from the end of the Ultimate Marvel run.
Spider-Man himself started out this way for the Marvel Universe. Stan Lee had considerable trouble convincing publisher Martin Goodman to let him try the character out, and was eventually able to stick him in the final issue of Amazing Adult Fantasy (renamed Amazing Fantasy for that one issue). It was only after Goodman saw the huge sales figures for the comic a few months later that a solo series was green-lit, which allowed Spider-Man to quickly surpass The Fantastic Four as Marvel's flagship character.
Mary Jane, especially among fans of the comics. She started off as just a tease character to later on become Spider-Man's main Love Interest, as well as his Official Couple for most of the character's run. Her Fun Personified attitude made her stand out, not only among the other more conventional love interests Betty Brant and Gwen Stacy, but among female characters in super hero comics of the time in general. Afterwards, writers like Gerry Conway and Tom De Falco rounded up her personality and back story, making her a much more compelling character on her own right.
J. Jonah Jameson, when he's written as a multi-dimensional character. There's a reason why fans complain loudly when a writer decides to write J.J.J. as a borderline psychopath obsessed with destroying Spider-Man.
Flash Thompson became this after he was given Character Development that led to him becoming a steadfast ally and friend to Peter. He's also the only Venom other than Eddie Brock who isn't either hated or ignored.
Eddie Brock was originally going to die so the Venom symbiote could bond to different people but he became so popular that Eddie was kept alive and revamped into a anti-hero.
Mr. Negative and Overdrive are the only new villains from BND that have managed to become liked by fans.
The Shocker. A goofy costume, a Nonindicative Name (his powers are based on vibration and air blasts, not electricity) and a reputation for being a bit of a joke thanks to outside media and Ultimate Spider-Man. Yet thanks to his Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain and his more pragmatic approach to villainy (and perhaps being a big part of the '90s cartoon) fans absolutely love him. So much so that when Marvel ran a poll asking fans to pick the next member of the Thunderbolts, Shocker won quite handily in a poll that included big names like Sandman and Absorbing Man.
Black Cat is probably the second most popular love interest after Mary Jane herself.
There's also Sophia Sanduval, aka Chat: Spidey's girlfriend from the Marvel Adventures Spider-Man series. Generally down to earth, sweet, supportive of Peter/Spidey and a generally likable and entertaining companion; a lot of people consider her one of Peter's best love interests. So much so that when the series was eventually cancelled the biggest lament was that there would be no more Chat.
In recent years, the rather obscure villain Sauron (formerly of the X-Men, and no, not the Lord of the Rings baddie) has become a surprisingly popular character, if nothing else because of the sheer cartoonish delight and single-mindedness he takes in his mission.
Sauron: But I don't want to cure cancer. I want to turn people into dinosaurs.
Ben Reilly is actually decently popular if only because he was much more mature during the Clone Saga than Peter himself, whose solution to everything was to Wangst about everything. Although this was partly because Marvel was actively trying to make Ben become the new protagonist of the entire franchise. Even then, fans don't resent the character itself (at worst, they only resent how he was handled).
A lot of the new supporting cast members introduced by Dan Slott but especially Max Modell (for being a great Smart Guy for the Spiderfamily) and Anna Maria Marconi (for being really nice and her dwarfism being treated with impeccable good taste).
Roderick Kingsley is considered by fans to be the only Hobgoblin worthy of the title. There was mass rejoicing among fans when he was reintroduced into the story and got to take down the most recent pretender to the throne in the process.
Anna Maria Marconi. By far, the most beloved supporting character out of the entire Dan Slott run, and probably the only universally praised thing from Superior Spider-Man.
The Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman from the Edge of the Spider-Verse storyline produced a frenzy of excitement based on little more than a really cool costume. It took Marvel less than a month after she finally appeared in a comic to announce that she was getting a solo series.
There are a number of people enamored with his "Bombastic Bag Man" getup.
Boomerang is surprisingly beloved by fans due to being a hilarious Jerkass while still managing to be oddly likable and charismatic.
Dr. Johnathon Ohnn aka The Spot is regarded as one of Spider-Man's "joke" villains. However, many fans find his ability to open warp portals to be one of the most useful powers imaginable and that if written differently could potentially be one of Spider-Man's more dangerous and unpredictable foes.
Arguably one of, if not THE top reason of why the character became so popular, despite all the Deconstructions he's been through. Yeah, his life and luck might suck but he has a cool set of powers, he's smart and because he's an underdog, when Spider-Man does triumph, the victory is all his. For a lot of people, even the drama itself would too, in a Soap Opera kind of way, simply because Peter is a Nice Guy who is beloved by his Aunt May, his wife/on-and-off girlfriend Mary Jane, and is Respected by the Respected (the Fantastic Four, Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain America) and of course he gets to live in New York and claim one the iconic City of Adventure as his stomping ground. Even then, Peter is a former nerd who got superpowers and got to date several beautiful women (Betty Brant, Liz, Gwen, MJ, Felicia Hardy), no matter how bad his life gets, real nerds tend to have it way worse than he ever does or ever will.
Evil Is Cool: Pretty much everyone in Spidey's Rogues Gallery that isn't deliberately made lame for humor. Norman Osborn, Doctor Octopus, Venom, Harry Osborn, Hobgoblin, Kraven, etc.
Evil Is Sexy: Harry, Octopus, Venom (even in-universe, apparently). And Norman, for some. The sharp businessman plus bad boy attitude certainly works for some people.
Fandom-Enraging Misconception: Some fans get really upset if you leave out the hyphen and spell it as one word - And it's rather common that non-comic fans do so. This even applies in universe, as Spidey himself thinks it makes him sound like the Jewish family down the street - Honey, let's have the Spidermans over for dinner. It's so bad that an episode of Friends had Phoebe and Chandler actually discuss this.
Chandler: Because it's not his last name.
Phoebe: It isn't?
Chandler: He's not, like, Phil Spiderman. He's a Spider-Man. Like Goldman's a last name, but there's no Gold-Man.
Spider-Man/Mary Jane, probably one of the longest running Official Couples in comics and the supporters are still devoted in spite of the attempts at Ship Sinking. The fact that she was the one that Aunt May believed was right for Peter (something which was established in the Steve Ditko era before her official "appearance") also tends to give her a leg up over Peter's other romances.
Spider-Man/Gwen Stacy is an interesting case in that when they were a couple they weren't popular among Spider-Man readers who started out, but ironically after she died, many fans latched on to Gwen as being Peter's doomed romance and The Lost Lenore, even if little of that was actually set up in the comics at the time. As Jonathan Lethem novelist and old Marvel fan pointed out that for young readers like him at the time, "the first romantic loss for a lot of guys my age was Gwen Stacys death".
Spider-Man/Black Cat. They actually have hooked up a few times but it never sticks. The writers introduced Felicia as a more worldly foil for Peter and as someone he could be a Battle Couple with, allowing Felicia to serve as both a sidekick and cool foil who ironically preferred Spider-Man to Peter giving their relationship a gender-inversion of the usual Career Versus Family dynamic that Peter has with Gwen and MJ (namely that Peter sees his future with either as coming at the expense of being Spider-Man).
Mysterio's fishbowl has been the source of many a joke. Ultimate replaces it with flames, and Shattered Dimensions with a distorted mirror.
Shocker is brought to you by Serta! Arguably a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, since his goofy costume is part of why fans love him.
Green Goblin's suit hasn't exactly aged well. Some artists can make it look genuinely creepy or cool, but largely, it's just not that scary looking. Fortunately it got an update during the Mark Millar run on Marvel Knights Spider-Man (the amount of green is reduced and the suit was made to look more like armour with the familiar mask/cowl). Furthered during the Warren Ellis Thunderbolts run, which was closer to the original Ditko look but through a realistic lens, and genuinely creepy looking.
First Installment Wins: The landmark first-run of Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (38 issues and some annuals) remains the most influential and most frequently reproduced period of Spider-Man. There aren't many additions to Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery beyond what Lee-Ditko put together (Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Sandman, Electro, Vulture, Mysterio, Scorpion, Rhino, Chameleon, Kraven) with Venom and the Kingpin being major exceptions. Spider-Man's supporting cast rarely extends beyond those who were mentioned and featured in this run (Flash, Liz, Betty Brant, Harry Osborn, Gwen Stacy, Mary-Jane Watson, Aunt May, Jameson) and most notably, these comics focus on Peter as an ordinary high school student (even if it lasts for 28 issues) which is how he's almost always seen in adaptations. Comics scholars and historians generally rank this the peak of the Spider-Man titles, with it being one of the few superhero titles featured in The Comics Journal all-time 100 Best Comics list. The fact that on account of happening early before he became a corporate brand more than a character, Spider-Man gets to experience organic Character Development (going from specky nerd to a more stoic and balanced college-going scientist) that makes them the most satisfying part of the entire era since it had a clear Story Arc and a shift in supporting cast from high school to college that also upped the stakes believably.
Fleeting Demographic Rule: Or as it was called inside the "House of Ideas", "the illusion of change" i.e. the attempt to ensure as Dan Slott puts it, that Spider-Man belongs to every generation rather than the one in which he started with.
Gerry Conway invoked this when defending Gwen Stacy's death and the status it gave her. Noting that the status it held as Spider-Man's classic love interest who he failed impacted the readership who read her then and not the stories that came before, allowing him to create the illusion of a major status-quo upset that actually didn't change Spider-Man's setting too much:
Spider-Man's marriage is a major example where this backfired and the early demographics that fled returned with a vengeance. The audiences who read Spider-Man from the start and had followed Peter's great romance with MJ stopped reading the regular continuity as they grew up and the stories started dragging, by which time MJ had been Put on a Bus for 40 issues (still her longest gap after her introduction) and people began turning to Stan Lee's newspaper strip Spider-Man for catering to the Spider-Man as-they-remembered-it. When Lee decided to have Peter and MJ marry in his strip, the newsmedia, largely ignorant (and probably indifferent) to the current comics continuity brought new attention and readers from largely older fans finally saw this as the big status-quo shake-up they wanted and this led Marvel editors and writers to bring the marriage into regular continuity.
This was used as justification by the editors of Spider-Man for the One More Day continuity reboot, under the theory that if they stick to their guns through reader complaints for five years, no one will have enough of an attention span to remember it ever happened. An idea that might have been valid had it been Pre-Internet and if the story they wrote wasn't so badly written and bizarre that nobody would forget thatnote For instance the fact that the marriage it retconned was also an editorial event was totally forgotten and unknown to all but the few paltry comics fans mostly because it happened before the Internet and because the wedding issue while considered mediocre for such a major emotional milestone, was still decently written with the fact that the much-teased marriage was actually going to happen being a major shock. Although the post-OMD titles are ten years old and many successful stories were written after that, including an alternate continuity Renew Your Vows that celebrated the marriage which became a runaway success, the fact is the comic remains fresh in infamy more than 10 years later as one of the all-time worst Spider-Man stories. As successful as Spider-Man remains, the manner in which it happened isn't going to be forgotten any time soon, especially since Spider-Man's marriage was liked by millennials (kids born in the late 80s and early 90s) since that was the Spider-Man they grew up with (during The '90s and The Oughties) as opposed to Joe Quesada and other writers who supported it (all boomers or children of boomers).
Many people argue that Spider-Man's original sin was graduating from high school to college. This happened in the original Steve Ditko-Stan Lee run itself, and as such it remains a fixture of the Amazing titles and several of the best stories follow Peter's high school graduation, but many argue that Spider-Man's original concept was that of a teenage and Kid Hero and that the minute he grew up and graduated to college, it meant that Spider-Man would have to grow up and eventually be responsible rather than still grapple with Uncle Ben's Aesop (which the likes of Joe Quesada mentions is a mostly adolescent problem). The success of the Ultimate Spider-Man comics (where Peter is a teenager and high school kid and is succeeded by another teenager and high school kid) is cited as a case in point of this argument.
A lot of Spidey's rough periods were brought about by the writers or editors becoming too scared of him aging and falling back on old tricks to prevent it. This began with the famous Gwen Stacy death plotline; behind the scenes it happened as a way for writer Gerry Conway to resolve the Gwen Stacy romance since she had become too close to Peter and realistically they would eventually marry and settle down which aged up the character considerably. Thing is, Gerry Conway was a decent writer and the storyline worked out pretty well, becoming a stunning Wham Episode that changed the course of the series. When a later editor developed the same fear of aging Peter too much, we got universally reviled storylines and retcons like Sins Past and One More Day.
More importantly, the death of Gwen Stacy started a trend among Spider-Man writers to kill off long-time supporting cast members largely for shock value without any idea of how to take the story from there. When Conway killed Gwen, it was done with the clear idea that it, coupled with Norman's death, would change the relationships between Peter, Mary-Jane and Harry, and mark as an End of an Age for Peter's college era. But later writers, killed long-term supporting characters often without any such considerations, resulting in long-term fixtures like Ned Leeds tossed aside on the scrap, followed by Aunt May, Mary-Jane and Harry Osborn. These constant deaths of likable interesting supporting characters tended to make Peter's supporting cast smaller and smaller, and made his stories too depressing to read which moreover didn't entirely carry into Spider-Man's Character Development (like say having him regress to the alone and bitter teenage version he was) and eventually writers reversed many of these deaths (Aunt May, MJ, and later Harry Osborn) which had the added effect of delegitimizing the mainstream Spider-Man's continuity, even before OMD.
Some of the stuff that fans dislike about Dan Slott's run, namely the overuse of Remember the New Guy? to retroactively insert new characters into Spider-Man's past (Silk being the major sticking point but there are others as well) was done before, to less criticism and some praise by JMS and Brian Michael Bendis. JMS introduced Charlie Weiderman, a never-before-mentioned high school classmate from Peter's Midtown days who goes postal when Peter meets him as an adult. Brian Michael Bendis inserted Jessica Jones into Peter's high school class (and someone who nursed a crush on him). While still mildly criticized at the time, both earlier stories worked because both characters had parallel stories and arcs that only coincided with Peter's rather than being directly tied to his story, his powers, and his mythosnote Weidermann is a Frank Grimes-esque loser who Peter meets as an adult to help him out and his life and time in school had nothing to do with Spider-Man, while Jessica Jones went on to have her stories in her small corner of the Marvel Universe and her absence and obscurity was explained and dealt with. Slott on the other hand piles up a number of unlikely encounters Peter had in his early career that are simply too significant to go unmentioned and the number of people touched and affected by Peter getting bit by the spider, rewrites Peter's mythos from a chance encounter to someone touched by fate and made special.
Spidey fans tend to be close with fans of other street-level New York heroes (Daredevil, Moon Knight, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, etc.) and vice versa. It helps that there's a lot of crossover between said characters in-universe.
Spider-Man fans also tend to overlap with Fantastic Four fans. It helps that Spider-Man historically and especially in recent years is a "fifth Beatle" to the "first family".
Spider-Man fans and Superman fans tend get along well, despite the whole DC vs Marvel thing, perhaps because the twoheroesaresosimilar that you can't really like one and hate the other. Doesn't hurt that the two have had three crossovers to themselves and two company wide crossovers where they both appeared. There's also the fact that both are prominent examples of married superheroes, whose marriage was plagued by writers and editors who wanted to restore a status-quo, with one idea proposed in 2000 more or less foreshadowing what One More Day ultimately did to Spider-Mannote In 2000, a number of writers for Superman including Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, and Mark Waid, pitched an idea for a Superman reboot that would return the character to what the writers believedwas its roots. Their solution...Mr. Mxyzsptlk forces them to bargain their marriage in exchange for saving the world, and Clark and Lois would accept and this would lead to a reboot. It's probably not a coincidence that Mark Waid went on to serve as one of the consulting writers to Joe Quesada when he planned the reboot in 2005, and went on to write early issues in Brand New Day. In any case, Superman did get rebooted to a single status in the New 52 relaunch but this was a Continuity Reboot that didn't nullify and erase an existing relationship and love story as opposed to the Continuity Snarl caused by the Cosmic Retcon of OMD.. The two fandoms became the other's sole confidant when the two franchises started facing thesameproblems. I guess capes gotta look out for each other.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Spider-Man is one of the most popular American super-heroes of all time, so it's not surprising that he's extremely popular abroad as well. What's more surprising is that in many countries he's arguably THE most popular American super-hero ever. Yes, even more than Superman.
Some believe this is because he combines the best elements of Superman (superpowers, bright red and blue costume) with the best of Batman (more "human", not invulnerable, able to look badass and creepy when he wants to). Also, his working class background tends to resonate more easily with non-American readers than the larger-than-life icons that Superman and Batman are often portrayed as.
Japan is probably the most iconic case of all. The emotional, often even melodramatic tone of Spider-Man stories is very similar to what can be found in a lot of Japan's own popular culture, so obviously he's going to be engaging for Japanese audiences more easily. The popular show from the 70s, which started the Sentai genre, definitely helps. There's also the fact that he's a slim, handsome teenager, rather than the hulking, occasionally brutish adults that Superman and Batman are, and we all know how Japan loves its high school age pretty boys.
In Western Europe, Spidey has always been competing for the "most popular super-hero" throne with Batman for decades.
An issue of the Green Goblin series had Phil Urich (the heroic GG) being terrorized by apparitions of the Green, Hob, and Demo Goblins, which taunt him by saying that no matter how good he tries to be he's doomed to inevitably go insane and become evil. They were right.
The very first annual, published in 1964, features a short story written by Stan Lee and drawn by Steve Ditko revealing the process for creating the series. Lee is portrayed as a Bad Boss who dumps the majority of work on Ditko while taking credit for it. It's played for laughs but two years later Ditko would abruptly leave the company and while he never said exactly why he left years later he made it clear that he was sick of Stan Lee taking credit for everything, making it very difficult to find the little comic as funny as it was meant to be. Specifically, Ditko (like Kirby) was offended for the fact that Lee never outright admit that his artists were actually also writing the story, and indeed did far more of it than Stan himself probably did (namely they came up with the plots, the scene breakdowns, the characterization, and in later issues even suggested and indicated dialogues for the scenes which Lee followed when filling in the balloons) albeit Ditko was the only one who actually got credit for plotting the story.
Roger Stern's "The Daydreamers" (ASM-246) has a series of characters daydreaming about their idealized fantasy scenarios including Mary Jane and Peter. Mary Jane dreams of success and fame as an actress on stage and film but lapses out when she sees her sister goad her for abandoning them, while Peter dreams of being head-hunted by both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. Both of them get what they wanted eventually but it comes at a steep prize, MJ achieves a measure of fame and success but it proves fleeting and her career goes on the skids, while Peter joins the Avengers only for it to wreck his life in Civil War, and then joins the Fantastic Four after the death of Johnny Storm, and his relationships with super-teams sour thanks to Superior Spider-Man.
Steve Ditko's comments disapproving of Stan Lee's original pitch for Green Goblin being an Egyptian Mummy-cursed demon becomes even more funny when you realize how it prophesied and anticipated fan and writer complaints about Mephisto in One More Day and how even the famously eccentric and reclusive co-creator understood the basic trappings of Spidey's world:
When the Spider-man character started getting popular in the comics, a stunt double for El Santo's movies started as "Spider Man", as a gimmick, for kids attending EMLL shows. Not much came of it, but then he became one of Mexico's most successful luchadors of all time with the"Black Man" gimmick he used in LLI\UWA. Then comic book Spider-man started wearing a black suit.
In one issue, Spider-Man is on trial and when asked why Jameson might hate him, he jokes that it's because he's black. Then came Ultimate Fallout...
#304 of Amazing Spider-Man features a brief scene where Peter and Mary Jane visit Disneyland, decades before Disney would go on to purchase Marvel. Even more amusing, Spidey and other Marvel heroes are now characters that can be met at Disney parks.
In #308, Spidey goes to a cemetery with the word that it's home to someone who's been plotting revenge against him, with him sarcastically wondering for a moment if Beetlejuice is the mastermind with a grudge against him. 29 years later, guess whose actor ends up playing the villain of Spider-Man's new film?
During one team up with Ghost Rider, Spidey mentions that maybe Ghost Rider start driving a car instead of a motorcycle. Flashforward a few years later and we get introduced to Robbie Reyes...
In Amazing Spider-Man #296, Dr. Octopus has a nightmare where he sees everyone dressed as Spider-Man exclaiming "Spider-People! A-all over the place!" Fast forward to the 2010's, where there are spider-themed heroes all over the place.
Iron Woobie: If it's one thing that Spider-Man and his supporting cast share is a tendency to pick themselves up after being knocked down.
Spider-Man himself of course. He undergoes a lot of baggage and trauma, has few outright victories, and very little of his Character Development actually sticks and lasts for long.
This also applies to many of his supporting cast who have had their share of hard knocks visited on them. Most notably Aunt May widowed (and in recent comics, a second time) and made into a single guardian of her young nephew despite her failing health and her own share of adventures remaining warm and comforting to Peter. As she once told Peter, the family motto is "Parkers don't quit".
Mary-Jane Watson who had a bad childhood and scrapped her way to a measure of success, and goes further than any of Peter's girlfriends in helping him live his double life despite the hardships and struggles it brought her.
Flash Thompson who went from college Jerk Jock to committed soldier, to cripple, and a man whose fortitude ends up making Venom into a good guy and later atones for his past by becoming Peter's true friend and dies in a Heroic Sacrifice. One thing that has always been true, Flash Thompson right from the beginning, even when he railed on Peter, was Spider-Man's number one fan.
Everyone nowadays knows that Norman Osborn was the original Green Goblin.
Also, Gwen Stacy dies.
A bit less well known, but if you've heard of Amazing Spider-Man #248's famous story, "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man", then you probably already know that Timothy Harrison has leukemia in the story.
The ending of Dying Wish is now a well known fact, largely because of how big and controversial the following relaunch is and the fact that Superior Spider-Man is openly advertised as Dr. Octopus in Spider-Man's body.
I Liked It Better When It Sucked: John Romita Sr. is generally praised for lightening up the more bitter and harsh tone of the Lee-Ditko era and giving Peter a new supporting cast but many feel that the Ditko-era characterizations are better written, logical, and well-motivated. This is especially the case for new readers who discover Steve Ditko's Gwen Stacy (a jerkass Alpha Bitch who finds Peter sexy but is too proud to admit it) who is clearly a more interesting, dynamic, and cool version than the wet-blanket girlfriend of the Lee era and the posthumous "St. Gwen" version.
Love to Hate: This was the major part of J. Jonah Jameson's appeal among his fandom. Even if fans dislike his rants against Spider-Man and for his asinine accusations, he has such energy, gumption, style, and legitimate virtues (work ethic, courage, and a Noble Demon moral code) that fans honestly wouldn't have him any other way.
Wilson "The Kingpin" Fisk is Marvel's greatest gangster and a consummate survivor. Having outfought, outwitted, and outlasted everyone who has ever tried to take his place, Fisk has secured his position as both New York's reigning mobster and a fixture in the supervillain community. With the capital to dominate the city and a reach that frequently spans continents, Fisk has developed the psychological torment of heroes like Matt Murdock and Peter Parker into an art form, and has left Matt's life in particular in ruins several times over. Always too stubborn to call it quits, Fisk rolls with or shrugs off everything that Marvel's heroes and villains can throw at him, while repeatedly demonstrating that only the most capable of opponents can do the same when he brings all his resources to bear on them. Having risen, fallen, and risen again, Fisk is never out of the game for long, and is always ready to show off the criminal skill and personal gravitas that made him Kingpin of Crime in the first place.
Roderick Kingsley was a ruthless businessman who built an empire out of the fashion industry with unscrupulous practices. Discovering the lair of the Green Goblin, Kingsley decided to build the identity of the Hobgoblin, remaining concealed the whole while. Creating a new criminal empire, he used criminal Lefty Donovan the Hobgoblin to test the effectiveness of the Goblin formula and then eliminated him when he'd served his purposes. Kingsley also brainwashed reporter Ned Leeds into thinking he was the Hobgoblin to use him as a cover, eventually getting Leeds killed while he skipped away free and clear. Returning to murder the fourth Hobgoblin, Jason Macendale, for bringing undue scrutiny upon him, he then manipulated the Green Goblin into attacking him so he could escape prison and then begins leasing the identities and costumes of minor supervillains to others in order to take a cut of the profits.. A criminal genius long before he donned the mask, Kingsley repeatedly shows why he is one of Spider Man's most intelligent enemies.
Hydro-Man is infamous for constantly sabotaging his own victories. It's expounded by the fact that his power/gimmick (hydrokinesis) is insanely useful, so the only excuse he really has for constantly losing is incompetence. To give you an idea of how bad it is, the RiffTrax crew uses his name as a by-word for stupid and self-defeating villains.
Spider-Man himself of course has this reputation both In-Universe and in comics. In-Universe he's seen as the Butt-Monkey who incredibly humiliating and embarrassing stuff happens to due to his bad luck, while among comics lore he's remembered as the guy who finds love but ends up either getting his lovers killed (Gwen Stacy) or bartering their relationship to the devil.
Venom. In one of the animated adaptations, he once attacked Spider-Man from behind, wrapping his arms around him and yelling "Surprise!" Deosn't help that the symbiote's main power is forming tentacles on command.
A lot of fans tend to blame the writers who followed Roger Stern's run, namely Tom Defalco and Peter David for ruining his Hobgoblin Story Arc. While obviously the nature of the execution of the denouement at the hands of later writers is on them, the fact is that they inherited a mess Stern gave them. Stern created the Hobgoblin without a set idea on who the identity was and it was only after a while he decided on Roderick Kingsley. He intended to stretch out a mystery in imitation of the Norman Osborn reveal from Lee-Ditko's Spider-Man and threw in many Red Herring and then he left and stepped down without wrapping up his own story. He told Defalco his plans but also consented that he and other writers could change the culprit if they so wished. This led to the famous Continuity Snarl of the mystery as later writers stretched it beyond breaking point until finally editors decided to clear house for a plot that had become Arc Fatigue. Some of the elements which Stern used to clear up the mystery such as Roderick having an identical twin Daniel which he claimed to have already set up and hinted at before were in fact not established at all.
While long-term fans in general prefer the marriage, there are some who defend the OMD retcon feeling that it ended Spider-Man's Dork Age in The '90s. The truth is that the period after the marriage (1987-1993) was followed by generally acclaimed and respected creative runs by the likes of J. M. DeMatteis and David Michelinie, and to the extent that there were problems (Venom becoming Wolverine Publicity and Carnage being a Generic Doomsday Villain) it was more down to writers following on '90s trends (and which were in any case commercially successful). The real dork age began with the Clone Saga and the period after that, both of which are blamed on the marriage when in fact those stories were created to end it and return to the old status-quo. The other problem is the fact that Marvel rarely tried to engage new and young talent to write Spider-Man (as for instance it did when Gerry Conway and Peter David started out) and most of the writers were on the older side having started reading comics in their youth in the '70s, when in fact the marriage was popular and generally liked by the millennial generation who grew up on it, with the marketing aimed at returning Spider-Man for a new generation specifically ignoring the opinions of the current one.
Since the most well-known or rather proverbial and famous version of The Clone Saga is the one in The '90s, and it claimed that they were picking up a dangling thread from the story from The '70s, many blame the Kudzu Plot of the latter on the first saga and for its decision to pull an Ambiguous Clone Ending. The fact is as anyone who read the first story or re-reads it can tell you is that the original clone saga gave an ironclad reason why Peter was the real deal at the end and there was never any ambiguity intended by writer or perceived by the readers, and the entire premise of the second clone saga is a giant bizarre retcon and comical misreading to start with. For one thing, the first clone saga was published in 1976, and for nearly twenty years in-between characters like the Jackal and so on were forgotten and buried, to a large extent it was a plot point entirely forgotten about by most comics fans and general readers until The '90s revived it. Gerry Conway's first clone saga began as a response to the backlash of Gwen Stacy's death and was commissioned by Stan Lee as a backdoor to potentially bring her backnote Since Conway wanted to develop Mary Jane and Peter as the love story of the series, he wrote the story as a Deconstruction of fans not being able to deal with death, fixating on Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest and otherwise liking Gwen just because she died (as Conway pointed out in interviews hardly anyone has a shred or clue how she really was like as a character when she was alive and largely fetishize her for her death) which he illustrated in the villain Jackal who was a stand-in for, to use a modern phrase, "salty Gwen fans" and painting their stand-in as a creepy necrophiliac professor.. The climax where the villain Jackal summons a clone of Spider-Man to fight the real Spider-Man illustrated this since the clone, like all of Jackal's clones are fixated on the past, on Gwen, and as such are incapable of true growth and change, and it was established that Miles built the clones after Gwen's death. The reason Peter knew he was the real deal was because since he had moved on and was now in love with Mary Jane, he can't be the clone otherwise he'd be stuck in the past. It was fundamentally an action-comic metaphor and plot point to illustrate the love story of Peter and Mary Jane, which also made a larger point about grief, toxic nostalgia, and thinking about the future and not the past. The second clone saga practically ignored this, and the entire role of Gwen's death in the motivation leading up to it, and it ended up proving, on account of the writer's motivations for going back to the days of "single Pete" the same mentality of toxic nostalgia that the first one was deconstructing.
For Doc Ock, his recent outings include firstly, trying to destroy 90% of the world so the remaining ten percent will remember him as the greatest monster that ever lived, and then successfully managing to swap minds with Peter, leaving Peter trapped in his crippled body as he runs free with all of Peter's memories, allowing him to restart his relationship with MJ and live his life without anyone being any the wiser. Though some fans insist that neither May or Mary Jane would be fooled by this, especially since May once correctly deduced two people posing as Peter's parents were phonies, and MJ has figured out other people have impersonated her soul mate like Chameleon and Kraven.
On account of the Marvel Method (whereby the artists not only drew the issue but essentially created the entire plot and story out of a brief synopsis with Stan Lee writing the dialogues after the art is done), there's an entire culture industry dedicated to sorting out Stan Lee's contributions from that of Steve Ditko and John Romita Sr. Steve Ditko for instance was the only one of Lee's collaborator to get story credit and according to Lee himself by the final ten issues, Ditko was plotting on his own without any synopsis or outline from him. The iconic "Master Planner" story arc is largely Ditko's work rather than Lee's, including what many consider Spider-Man's greatest feat of lifting the machinery which covered him. The exact origins of the concept, i.e. the name, the group of spider-powers, Peter's origin are even more convoluted with much "Rashomon"-Style, but it's generally agreed that Amazing Fantasy #15 is mostly Lee's work, while it was Ditko who entirely designed Spider-Man's costume, and that of his Rogues Gallery.
John Romita Sr. largely defined and shaped Peter's social circle. Thanks to him, Harry Osborn is seen as Peter's best friend, MJ and Gwen are seen as Peter's two most iconic Love Interest (eclipsing Betty Brant and Liz Allan), and even Norman Osborn is often adapted into a flawed but likable man who is made crazy based on his own revisions namely giving Noman Easy Amnesia where he forgets he's the Goblin when Lee and Ditko established both Norman and Goblin as equally terrible people. Most notably, Romita Sr.'s redesign of Peter remains his default look in the comics to this day, while also inspiring his look in Ultimate Marvel, The Amazing Spider-Man Series and Spider-Man PS4 and most cartoon adaptations.
Gerry Conway famously dropped Gwen off the bridge, made Harry Osborn into Peter's Rival Turned Enemy and the second Green Goblin, and he made Peter and MJ into an Official Couple for the first time. Conway also made Professor Miles Warren into the Jackal and wrote the first Clone Saga, making him the, entirely unintentional, ancestor of the most notorious Kudzu Plot in Spider-Man history. His side-stories for The Spectacular Spider-Man which developed Robbie Robertson (who had already been made prominent in Conway's ASM run) also developed him further. He also created Tombstone in that run, who has gone on to become a popular second-string villain.
DeMatteis' work on Kraven and his kids has clearly influenced every subsequent story about the character. His work on Harry Osborn has likewise proven influential and this portrait informed his portrayal in cartoon and live-action adaptations.
Brian Michael Bendis has had perhaps the biggest impact on Spider-Man since the classic era. He authored Ultimate Spider-Man the most successful and critically liked take on Spider-Man in the Ultimate series, and he later wrote Spider-Man in the 616 Continuity, most notably in New Avengers having Peter become a Marvel-wide superhero in a big way, establishing Iron Man as Peter's father figure and/or Big Brother Mentor (when originally Iron Man started as Peter's junior in the early issues). Bendis also co-created Miles Morales (with Sara Pichelli), Spider-Man's most popular and successful Legacy Character who has since become a Canon Immigrant.
As much as fans hated how she was written under Slott's pen, a lot of fans have expressed interest and enjoyment at Robbie Thompson and Stacey Lee's handling of Silk in her ongoing. It largely helps that it develops her as a character with a relatable personality focusing on her anxiety issues and phasing out her pheromone connection to Spider-Man (and, by extension, phasing her out of Slott's book).
Narm: Spidey himself flies past Large Ham and straight into this in the first issue of Marvel Knights Spider-Man, during his fight with the Green Goblin. "WHO'S YOUR DADDY NOW, MR. OSBORN?! WHO'S YOUR DADDY NOW?!"
The One More Day fiasco. Marvel editorial thought that fans would get over it and move on in a couple of years, tops. Boy, were they wrong! More than ten years later, fans still use this story as an example of Marvel's blinkered views on their mascot character and their fixation for the Fleeting Demographic Rule. It's considered the worst Spider-Man story ever, or in the bottom five in any case. The fact that the sales after the comics have improved and brought in a lot of new elements and readers, that were both refreshing and controversial (if not as much to the level of OMD) hasn't stopped virtually every comics site and commentator from bringing up One More Day as the main sticking point, and it's almost certainly editor Joe Quesada's most notorious action, one that has obscured a lot of the good stuff that he also did.
Some people feel this way about the use of the motto "With great power must also come great responsibility". Although it's true that many famous (and infamous) storylines have titles created around it, the motto itself isn't used THAT often in-universe. It's mostly reserved for climatic moments, but if you were to believe the detractors, Spider-Man utters it pretty much in every issue. This perception has gotten so bad that someadaptations have gone out of their way to NOT to use it, and they awkwardly tip-toe around it instead.
And more after it, such as Spidey somehow being dumb too naive to realize he was drinking alcohol and not soda as he first thought, resulting in a one night stand.
Also, Peter's Wangsty behavior after the first "Clone Saga", Mary Jane once leaving him and turning down his marriage proposal, Venom's cannibalism (which only really strongly applies to Mac Gargan as Venom), and Harry's drug addiction are all pretty minor parts to their character, yet some people don't seem to realize that. The first ends up being an overly cited problem with Spidey books, the second is probably one of the causes for Mary Jane's status as a Base-Breaking Character for one generation of comics readers, the third ends up being the defining trait of Ultimate Venom, and the fourth, surprisingly, is handled pretty well by writers when they want to.
Chameleon's getting beaten up by a baseball bat-wielding Mary Jane generally weakens the threat of the character. (Then again, it's not like the Chameleon was ever a villain most people would've taken that seriously anyway and besides there's no shame in losing to MJ).
The infamous scene where Venom was defeated by Spidey using a Zippo lighter. The writer probably meant for the scene to involve Spidey starting a big fire, playing off Venom's established weakness to extreme heat, but the art failed to convey this. As result this fight tends to be cited a lot when people believe Venom is experiencing Villain Decay.
"With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" as mentioned above was originally part of the captions of Amazing Fantasy #15 but it wasn't attributed to Uncle Ben until...1987, 25 years later. The first writer to do so was Christopher Priest (comics) in his one-shot "Spider-Man Vs. Wolverine #1''.
Spider-Man being a teenage high-school hero, or rather being known exclusively as one, dates to about 2000. The incarnations of Spider-Man in wider media before then hardly ever showed him in high school, with the Fox Animated Show showing him at college, the 1967 Animated Show, the 1981 one, and Amazing Friends, the MTV series showing him likewise at college, as did most of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy (Peter graduates mid-way though Spider-Man 1). In the comics, Lee-Ditko's Spider-Man not only had Peter graduate high school by Issue #28 but even during the high school era, most of the stories focused on him working at the Bugle, rarely showing high school life. The initiative to make Peter a high school hero was part of then Marvel President Bill Jemas' plan, and there's more Spider-Man in high school content in the last twenty years than in the first 38 years of Spider-Man's history. Including Ultimate Spider-Man (whose first story arc was co-plotted by Jemas), Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon (the first cartoon series to show Peter in high school, which all successor shows followednote Even if Weisman originally planned to age up Peter naturally in following seasons that never came to pass), and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Ultimate Spider-Man notoriously had 200 plus issues without Peter and his friends graduating high school.
No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: As divisive as Dan Slott may be online, under his pen, Spider-Man has been one of Marvel's most consistently highest selling titlesnote Of course Spider-Man always sells well, and the comics market being as small and shrinking-by-the-minute as it is, this doesn't quite mean a great deal. His run has also spun-off a number of other relatively successful titles.
Most people attribute the famous "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" mantra to Stan Lee. The phrase has been attributed to Voltaire and it was voiced in a Parliamentary debate during the French Revolution before becoming a general proverb in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, which was once even said by Franklin D. Roosevelt and others.
A number of fans have noted that Carlie Cooper is a Creator's Pet who is a composite of different Spider-Man Love Interest intended to co-opt fans of Mary Jane by having the latter be her Shipper on Deck and be written out of character to make her seem better, while also having her appearance and design alter throughout the book. The same is true of none other than Gwen Stacy herself. When she was alive, her character had a number of personality-shifts in pages. Her hair style was altered to resemble Mary Jane's while the latter was given a terrible hair-do to make her look bad next to Gwen, and later Gwen was made into a budding scientist who shares an interest with Peter, and then later a bikini model to prove she's not as prudish and then Mary Jane started becoming a Shipper on Deck for her and Peter, to make readers better accept the relationship. Today she's remembered for her iconic look in her final story when before that her appearance changed quite often.
One True Pairing: Peter and Mary Jane, this one has been around for over 45 years and counting despite the constant attempts from the editors to separate them. The fact that Mary Jane is Spidey's Official Couple in the vast majority of adaptations and spin-offs definitely helps as well as the fact that she's a popular and famous character in her own right, often considered one of the best female characters in the Marvel Universe.
Padding: The comics back in the mid-90s were really bad at this. Among those were Maximum Carnage (which was 14 parts, compared to the 3 parts the creature's first appearance took) and The Clone Saga, which was meant to last 6 months and lasted two years. Clone Saga's problem was due to Executive Meddling — the Marketing Department noticed how fans were gobbling up the stories and demanded more.
Periphery Demographic: Spider-Man comics always did have a significant female readership as compared to other titles in the genre. Part of the reason is the Female Gaze of Peter's Adorkable looks and his tight-fitting costume, and the fact that his vulnerable and passive nature is genuinely romantic for many girls (as it is in-page for the likes of MJ, Felicia, and Gwen). The fact that Spider-Man comics, for its time actually dealt with romance in a more relatable way than other titles at both DC (cf, the Silver Age Clark and Lois stories, or if you are a fan of Lois, actually don't) and Marvel (Reed and Sue Richards) and likewise balanced romance with non-traditional genre elements (as opposed to romance comics which dealt with that and nothing else) which provided a Gateway Series to superhero and science-fiction stories for female readers. It's to cater to this demographic that the Legacy Character of Spider-Girl and Spider-Gwen were created, both of which being quite successful and having devoted and dedicated bases.
Ben Reilly. As noted above, he was fairly popular due to his maturity during The Clone Saga, but the idea of him being the original had this effect.
Carlie Cooper, for Mary Jane.
Gwen and Mary-Jane have an interesting dynamic. When Mary-Jane finally appeared she was an instant hit, while Gwen Stacy was still known as "Liz Allan but in college". In response to the editor-team wanting to make Gwen Stacy Peter's Love Interest and the greater public demand for Mary-Jane, Gwen's design was altered to resemble Mary-Jane more and more, and of course eventually they gave up and fridged her anyway to make Mary-Jane, Peter's true love. As such there are groups of fans who can see Gwen and MJ as respectively each other's scrappy.
The Brand New Day era in general used very few established villains, love interests, or supporting characters, and the replacements for them were widely considered inferior. When Dan Slott brought most of the established characters (including Mary Jane) back, many fans were pleased.
Pretty much every Hobgoblin other than Roderick Kingsley is this; given that Kingsley is widely considered one of the best Spidey villains ever, it's easy to see why.
Mac Gargan as Venom. An attempt to reverse Villain Decay that horribly failed. As Spidey himself commented, "a loser in a Venom suit is still a freaking loser".
Those who read Alpha: Big Time feel it gave serious Character Development to Alpha and made him much more likeable.
Since his return Norman Osborn hasn't been overly popular thanks to Dark Reign and him being linked to a bunch of Dork Age retcons. However the character was redeemed by Superior Spider-Man, in which he was rerailed into a badass supervillain who succeeds on his own merits rather than relying on the Idiot Ball. It helped that he was going against Spider-Ock who is, at best, incredibly divisive.
While initially tied up in the awkwardness of Brand New Day and the 'mystery' of who would become Peter's latest love interest, Norah Winters has since managed to become a prominent part of Peter's cast and has taken a role in the larger Marvel Universe, playing important roles in the Osborn miniseries which appeared shortly after Dark Reign, and the run on The Punisher by Greg Rucka. It helps that her early role as a slightly obnoxious newswoman has gone through some real development to deal with her own morality and making her into a competent reporter.
While not a full-on Scrappy, Carnage seems to be regaining his previous popularity due to his unwilling inversion in Axis, mainly because his awful attempts at being a hero are hilarious.
Silk, thanks to Robbie Thompson's handling of the character in her ongoing.
Scapegoat Creator: Joe Quesada tends to get blamed for nearly every bad thing that's happened to Spider-Man in recent years, largely because he was responsible for the infamous One More Day and is an executive producer on Marvel's Spider-Man as well as making a Creator Cameo (the first time any Spider-Man line-editor has been given this privilege other than Stan the Man himself). The reality is that Quesada was EIC, while still having some influence and say, is himself answerable to Marvel's financial executives and others. The decision to end Peter's marriage with Spider-Man was as much a corporate decision and directive that editors after Jim Shooter (who largely did it because of spontaneous audience reception rather than thinking of Spider-Man as a brand) were also trying to do, and it was something that in all probability would have happened with any other EIC. Of course the specific deal-with-the-devil thing was still very much his idea. It's also lost on fans that Quesada oversaw JMS' Spider-Man which did produce, in most fans view, some of the best moments in their relationship, as well as Matt Fraction's "To Have and to Hold" (in Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1) which is seen by many fans and critics as not only the best story of the couple, but one of the all-time greatest Spider-Man stories (and it was nominated for an Eisner award), and most notably according to Nick Spencer himself, the decision to bring them back together in his run was suggested by old JQ himself. Quesada also continued reviving Spider-Girl in multiple titles despite low sales and several cancellations, and often said that he saw that as the natural progression for their relationship.
Aunt May is still beloved by fans for her classic storylines and genuine Cool Old Lady qualities, but fans feel that her role in the series, in the eyes of Spider-Man's writers and editors to essentially infantilize Peter ends up doing both Peter and her a disservice. The fact that the few times when writers did provide some growth and resolution to her character (the classic issues of #400 and JMS' "The Conversation") were retconned and tossed away with cheaper storylines only annoys fans further. The fact that writers consider her more indispensable for some reason than Peter's love interests (Gwen Stacy was killed when Conway vetoed Romita Sr's original choice to kill hernote Albeit his secret reason was to remove Gwen and replace her with MJ, both his and In-Universe Aunt May's preferred choice) and of course Mary Jane. Some also not that her role became The Artifact over time, her status was Peter's only remaining family, a role that could easily have been taken by either Gwen or MJ had either of them married Peter. Recent fans seeing her Post-OMD arc note that it's weird that she gets to be married and has personal development and not Peter and MJ (who were robbed of their story arc which gave them both).
The first Madame Web, mainly because she gave a lot of vague prophesizing and warning without ever actually helping Spider-Man with the threats she keeps saying are just around the corner. It wore on people's nerves after a while. Even in-universe Spidey doesn't like her all that much. Her association with the Clone Saga and the later and divisive seasons of the Fox Spider-Man animated series only makes people dislike her more.
Carnage for some. Some people love him, others view him as a cheap Joker rip-off and a perfect example of everything that was wrong with the nineties.
A lot of the villains introduced during Brand New Day, like Freak or Paper Doll, were rather hated by fans due to replacing many of Spidey's established foes as well as the new villains established during JMS's run. At the same time many of said villains lacked the traits that made the old bad guys likable or cool. Fortunately once Dan Slott took over he either wrote them out or just acted like they never existed. The only exceptions to this are Mr. Negative and Overdrive, who have managed to establish themselves as lasting and worthy new additions to Spidey's Rogues Gallery.
Michelle Gonzales, a token love interest for Peter from the BND era. Michelle is a violent bully who wound up becoming Peter's roommate when Vin went to prison, and regularly insults, abuses, and humiliates Peter.
New "hero" Alpha due to basically being the antithesis to everything Spider-Man stands for (has zero responsibility, wastes his gifts, has an ego the size of a mountain, etc.). Dan Slott has stated this was intentional for the sake of giving him a character arc to make him more likable in his own mini series. Unfortunately most of this development went unnoticed by the fans since readers weren't exactly willing to pick up a series focusing on a character they were intentionally made to despise.
Carlie Cooper's portrayal is resulting in a massive backlash from fans. Originally it was more along the lines of Replacement Scrappy for MJ, but it escalated when everyone, from past girlfriends to best friends, kept telling Peter how 'right' she was for him because she's his 'intellectual equal'. It was REALLY not helped by the fact she would get mad at Peter for the stupidest things, was pushed as a Woobie because her hero cop dad supposedly died only to be revealed he wasn't a hero and wasn't dead, act like a hypocrite, amongst other problems. She's also received ire for having similar characteristics as four of Peter's past love interests: troubles with father (MJ), Nerds Are Sexy and attempted Adorkable (Deb Whitman), loves Peter for him (MJ, and an invert of Black Cat), is old friends with Harry Osborn, a tsundere, and Peter's 'true love' and perfect girl (Gwen). You could make the case that the writers are trying to evoke Gwen Stacy in her character, but in the end comes off as a lot like Lana Lang in Smallville. In the aftermath of Spider-Island, she was demoted to a supporting cast member without romantic interest in Peter.
Cindy Moon aka Silk. A pretty girl who got bit by the same spider that bit Peter but spent over a decade locked in a room by Ezekiel. She has all of Spider-Man's powers but, with the exception of physical strength, they're all better than his. She's already proven to be just as competent as Peter, with no training except for watching videos of Spidey in action, and in a few issues has saved him on multiple occasions. She seems to be very important as it's Peter freeing her which seems to awaken Morlun thus setting off the Spiderverse event. Also, she lands a job on the Fact Channel despite not having any education beyond high school, which likely she didn't even finished. A lot of readers find her incredibly annoying while having all of the traits of a mary sue. And blatantly so at that.
It doesn't help that she once acted like a jerk to Anna Marconi (widely fan-favorite from Superior Spider-Man) by bragging that "[Peter] is now mine!", although at least she immediately apologizes to Anna for it.
This is getting worse after Spider-Verse, in which her incompetence causes the deaths of Last-Stand Spider-Man and Spider-Assassin, two beloved characters that fans had been wanting to see return for years. It doesn't help that she is introduced in the same arc where Black Cat undergoes a massiveFaceHeel Turndue to SpOck's actions. And when she finds out the truth, her reaction is similar to Carlie Cooper's as she still blames Spidey for her troubles. Many fans (particularly those that ship Spider-Man and Black Cat, but it's common even among those who don't) see this as an example of Derailing Love Interests.
All of the Inheritors except Morlun and Karn. While some dislike Morlun, most are ambivalent towards him and he had a mysterious and scary vibe that made him a decent addition to the Rogues Gallery. The others on the other hand are generally considered boring and annoying at best, and ruin Morlun's style at worst. Two stand out in particular:
Daemos, Morlun's bigger, dumber, eviler brother. Mostly for having very few personality traits beyond... "big, dumb, and evil." Also because he killed MC 2 Peter Parker and Spider-Man Unlimited.
Morlum's father Solus, for being capable of killing Captain Universe!Spider-Man with little effort, despite the latter being a Physical God.
The Regent, a boring and uninteresting Expy of Darkseid that wants only to collect superpowers. He was the main villain in the Renew Your Vows story. The worst is that, while the story was good thanks to Spider-Family (Peter, Mary Jane and their daughter), he became a Canon Immigrant in 616 universe besides nobody likes him. He is just another Slott Creator's Pet.
Sajani Jaffrey, a co-worker of Peter's at Horizon Labs who becomes his right-hand once he (or rather Otto in his body) starts Parker Industries. Most of her page time towards Peter was spent acting condescending, rude and acting as if she knew best about everything even going behind Peter's back to sabotage him because she disagreed with his rehabilitation-focused supervillain prison. When she was framed for further sabotage and fired by Peter few, if any, readers were sad to see her go.
Seasonal Rot: The JMS run and Dan Slott run both went through this. To elaborate:
The JMS run is generally agreed to have started out very good, with some cool new additions to Spidey's Rogues Gallery and the introduction of a solid Myth Arc. But then Civil War came along, and Joe Quesada began ruthlessly meddling in nearly everything, which led to horrible plot twists and storylines like The Other, Sins Past, and One More Day. The Myth Arc thus became a tangled mess and the book went through a horrible Dork Age that took several years to recover from completely.
When Slott took over he had a lot of positive press due to streamlining the books, fixing a bunch of divisive changes, and delivering Spider-Island which helped re-popularize the books with older fans. Then, Superior Spider-Man happened, and he slowly began playing a lot of the tropes he'd earlier criticized, such as Darker and Edgier. While Superior has its fans, very few people are enjoying the current volume, which has introduced horribly received characters like Silk and the Inheritors and began with Spider-Verse, a Batfamily Crossover that seemed designed to piss off as many fans as possible. Not help that he basically writes Peter like a Manchild erasing all his development. Not to mention Black Cat's FaceHeel Turn that turned her in a crazy bitch. Or Mary Jane getting a firefighter boyfriend, which some fans see as her settling for a lesser version of Spidey (being a person who risks his own life to save others).
When the Fantastic Four launched in November 1961, Marvel immediately set itself apart from the Distinguished Competition by giving its heroes an unprecedented (for comics) degree of realism. Before Spider-Man, teenagers had been relegated to the sidekick position for older, experienced, idealized adult heroes, but Ditko and Lee revolutionized the whole concept of a superhero by making Peter Parker just a sarcastic kid who dealt with mundane teen problems like money woes and dating girls when he wasn't fighting crime on his own. That groundbreaking approach included introducing subplots chronicling the hero's daily life, such as the ups and downs of Peter's multi-issue romance with Betty Brant, to a comic book at a time when most single issues of a title were split between multiple anthology stories. Over fifty years later, this approach is pretty much the norm for comic books.
Gwen Stacy's death. At the time, it was one of the most surprising developments in comics as a hero's love interest was considered totally safe. After this storyline, writers became less shy about killing off supporting cast members and love interests, making it a little hard for newcomers to see why this was such an earth-shattering event for the Marvel Universe. Not to mention it eventually led to the common phenomenon of fridging female characters, which comes off as lazy and misogynistic in the long run. The freshness and impact of the story also gets lost among newer fans simply because Gwen and the storyline where she dies almost never gets adapted into animation, or when it does happen, it's usually with Mary-Jane in her place (and she doesn't die, because MJ), and then the storyline was made into a very divisive film (The Amazing Spider Man 2) which had no suspense and blatant foreshadowing, or she gets featured in cartoons (like The Spectacular Spider-Man) where she has an entirely different personality, or her alternate version, Spider-Gwen which doesn't have this baggage at all.
This is also the case with some prominent characters and villains. Spider-Man comics' fans of a veteran age consider The Hobgoblin as conceived by Roger Stern to be a great villain with many considering him up there with Venom and others. A good part of what made him interesting and cool was his sense of mystery, him being into Pragmatic Villainy, and so on. For younger readers, the Hobgoblin often feels like a cheap Green Goblin ripoff no different from the other legacy goblins, because for newer readers once Norman came Back from the Dead he became "the" Goblin and since Hobby was intended as a permanent replacement for him, a lot of what made him cool has gone. Likewise when Frank Miller reimagined the Kingpin at around the same time, Fisk became the embodiment of pragmatic villainy when he crossed back into Spider-Man in both 616 and Ultimate Spider-Man stories. Re-reading the original story and Stern's Hobgoblin Lives likewise requires some familiarity of arcane Continuity Snarl and retcons making his appeal a little impenetrable (for the same reasons as the Clone Saga). Likewise the clearing up of the Dated History of the original Goblin (namely Steve Ditko had intended Norman Osborn to be the Green Goblin from the get-go) has made the behind-the-scenes trivia around his development feel like a classic case of Dramatically Missing the Pointnote Ned Leeds being the real Hobgoblin was apparently inspired by the rumor that he was Ditko's original choice before Stan changed to Norman, the fact that this was never the case made his death even more pointless and needles than it was to start with.
Sequel Displacement: Gargan is actually Venom III, but Venom II was a complete pansy and didn't last very long, so many forget he existed.
MJ's fans love her due to her compelling Character Development over the years (easily THE most developed supporting character in the entire cast), her funny personality, her natural chemistry with Peter and the fact that she felt in love with him being completely aware of that he was Spider-Man, but not because of it. They also point out that as a poor working-class scrapper from a broken home she is as much Peter's Foil as his Love Interest, and a very unique and modern update on the old superhero Love Interest trope as a muggle girlfriend who liked both Peter and Spider-Man.
Gwen's fans love her due to her moremodernizeddepictions, which tend to give her entirely new characterizations from her classic self. These takes increased Gwen's popularity and some fans see her as more than Peter's love interest or the girl who died which leads some of them to believe she should finally come back from the dead for real.
Black Cat's fans love her for being the mysterious, sexy temptress who first only seemed to care about herself, but later turned out to have a Hidden Heart of Gold, which she herself had trouble to comprehend without Peter's love and support. Her being the only love interest who is able to always have his back and be there for him in the heat of battle, their constant games of "cat and mouse", and the huge amount of flirty banter certainly helps to give them a lot of chemistry. More generally her defenders like the no-strings-attached nature of her relationship with Spider-Man precisely because it has no future where either of them want to really settle down with one another.
During The '80s, The Saga of the Symbiote, i.e. the lengthy story arc that spanned Spider-Man's acquistion of the Symbiote black costume to the first appearance of Venom in ASM #300 is also highly iconic. Other landmark stories include Kraven's Last Hunt, and more controversially The Clone Saga not so much for its quality but for its proverbial impenetrability and confusion.
For Ultimate Spider-Man, it's the opening 12 issues known as "Powers and Responsibility" and "Learning Curve". The other famous arc is "Death of Spider-Man" and its aftermath which led to the rise of Miles Morales.
Squick: Kraven's daughter, who, instead of Most Common Superpower, was a hot Pettanko chick with rockabilly hair and tight clothing. We later find out she's twelve. Curse you, ambiguous art style!
The Venom symbiote, combined with a douse of Nightmare Fuel when you think a bit about it.
Joe Q. named Carlie Cooper, a love interest of Peter Parker, after his daughter.
Joe Q. has been shoving Carlie down the throats of readers and pointing out how perfect she is for Peter. The dead give away for this was when Carlie was featured as a main character in The Many Loves of Spider-Man before actually hooking up with him. Dan Slott eventually came to the rescue, broke the two up, and downsized Carlie's role in the book to a more tolerable, less forced level.
Quesada and others felt this way about the Peter-MJ marriage to start with. They pointed out that it came largely because of the demand of older fans who had passed on Spider-Man after being irritated by the endless static nature of the stories, and were seeking closure for the Spider-Man they knew. It came in the middle of stories that many young fans had gotten involved in which ended up being curved on account of the wedding and later writers point out that after becoming married, MJ effectively becomes a main character in her own right, making her as much a part of the story despite not having powers, which takes attention away from other supporting characters.
Silk reached this territory faster and harder than any other previous love interest. After barely one issue and without any previous chemistry, she and Peter just can't get their hands off each other. All explained only by the totem connection they share due to both being bitten by the same radioactive spider. Not to mention Black Cat's FaceHeel Turn. Or Mary Jane getting a firefighter boyfriend, which some fans see as her settling for a lesser version of Spidey (being a person who risks his own life to save others).
Super Couple: Again, Peter and Mary Jane. However, they're unique in the sense that their on and off dynamics aren't intentional to keep the readers interested. Ironically, it's due to the editors wanting to separate them, but their popularity as a couple (and the fact that, with the arguable exception of Gwen, their chemistry and romance are overall far better written than with Spidey's other love interests) just make them getting back together every time. Even after One More Day, the possibility keeps coming back every once in a while.
Ta-Nehisi Coates: I wouldn't argue that the Parker-Watson marriage was always well-written and well-drawn... But in a genre aimed at young males, it is very hard for me to come up with a more mature, and I would say healthy, vision of what a marriage should look like. Mary Jane Watson was not looking to be saved. If anything, she wanted Peter Parker to stop saving people. She did not need Peter Parker. She was not fashioned especially to be his wife. She was a human and seemed as though she would have been with Peter Parker, or without him... One More Day felt like an erasure of what had been one of its more unintentionally bold endeavorsthe attempt to allow a superhero to grow up, to be more than Peter Pan, to confront the tragic world as it was, to imagine life beyond what should have been.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Practically from the beginning, and it's polarizing because some fans like the old status-quo but hate the new one and vice versa:
Some fans disliked Peter going from high school to college. Other fans dislike the fact that Peter's college years didn't progress on the same curve, with the introduction of Comic-Book Time permanently making Peter into a Static Character.
Any time Spider-Man meets a new girlfriend and breaks up with the old one, shipping wars erupt. This is true for every era.
Gwen Stacy's death was incredibly controversial and polarizing when it happened, to the point where Stan Lee himself, who had originally given Gerry Conway the okay to do it, quickly passed the buck to him. At his suggestion, the original Clone Saga was created as a possible way back for Gwen in case people didn't like Peter and MJ as a couple. Turned out audiences actually did like the relationship, meaning no more (616) Gwen, though there would be many clones for years to come.
Spider-Man's wedding was something that fans liked but divided Marvel's writers and creative staff. Some writers liked and welcomed it, others didn't. Shipping also plays a major part in this, as there were some writers who were okay with the idea of Peter being married — just not to MJ.
A number of longtime fans and writers (such as John Byrne) disliked Norman Osborn coming back from the dead at the end of the '90s Clone Saga, feeling it undid a classic story and left many readers wondering why Spider-Man isn't going on some Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the man who killed his girlfriend and masterminded the events of the aforementioned Clone Saga.note Brian Michael Bendis plugged this hole with The Pulse, where Norman finally gets outed as the Goblin and goes to jail, and later becomes a problem to the entire Marvel Universe rather than just Spider-Man. Even those who like his return note that he's become an entirely different character, with many noting that he has become more Norman Osborn and less Green Goblin.
One More Day has this reputation, to the point that many writers and artists who worked on the title post-retcon have complained about not getting critical attention for their work and contribution, even if most of them didn't have anything to do with that title or that decision. Many of them are still asked for their opinion on a story that happened over a decade prior.
Starting right from the Lee-Romita era, the death of Frederick Foswell, the Ensemble Dark Horse and arguably the most Dynamic Character from the Lee-Ditko era. He's still ranked as one of the greatest supporting characters in Spider-Man's history even if he appeared early and many felt that there was a lot of potential and new directions he could have taken the story to had he remained.
Ben Reilly, aka Scarlet Spider; though the character was well-received, the idea that he was supposed to have been the original Spider-Man — then having him replace Peter as the protagonist of the entire franchise — went over like a lead balloon. Then when Marvel decided they didn't need him to replace Peter anymore, they killed him off.
The 1970s Amazing Spider-Man live-action series did have legitimate technical and budgetary reasons why they could not use villains like the Green Goblin or Dr. Octopus, but that's no excuse for not using more down-to-earth characters like Kraven the Hunter, the Chameleon or the The Kingpin. It appears that the producers were trying to emulate the formula of the 1970s Incredible Hulk TV show, which had also largely abandoned its source material's comic book-y elements, including the rogues gallery.
Silk. Although in her case, it's more a case of "They Wasted Her Introduction". Most people agree that she's a pretty cool character in her ongoing series written by Robbie Thompson. Her fans point out that all the ingredients were there from the beginning, but most agree that Slott did a poor job with her, to say the least. Many feel sorry that a lot of people won't give her a second chance because of it.
Dilbert Trilby, the obituary writer at The Daily Bugle. He's a great character; a jaded, high-strung guy who feels he's unappreciated because of all the great articles he has to retract (and most would agree with him). It's a shame they haven't decided to use him more, because he's got tons of humor potential, and it would be nice to see how civilians handle the high recovery rate of deceased superhumans more often.
In the Mark Millar Marvel Knights Spider-Man, for the first time the Green Goblin and Doc Ock meet, and... it was disappointing. Really, Ock was drugged up and acting crazier and it was one of the few disappointing parts of the arc.
The entire career of Mac Gargan, the Scorpion, is built off this. First he has an awesome intro where he pummels Spidey to a pulp not once, but twice! And then there's the awesome potential that he knows that Jameson helped create him and after he is first defeated Jameson thinks "My secret is safe... but for how long?" Only for people to apparently know about it by the time the Fly comes onto the scene in the 1970's. In Scorpion's second appearance, the second fight is downplayed. And then he seems to have some awesome potential during the twelve issue Mark Millar Spider-Man storyline where he serves as The Dragon to that Big Bad and eventually gains the symbiote. Despite being beaten quickly, it seems like Millar was leaving him with the chance to become something great... only for writers to use him crappily.
The aforementioned Venom II, also from Millar's run. A mobster's son is given the suit to man up, and one of his first acts is to kill a former bully of Peter's after identifying Peter as Spidey at his reunion. What happens? Does this new Venom re-establish the symbiote as a great and dangerous villain, showing why Venom was a compelling villain. Nope, Spidey owns him, he runs, the suit abandons the host, causing him to fall to his death. Sigh.
A lot of fans loved Peter Parker revealing his identity in Civil War and being publicly known as Spider-Man. While even the fans who liked it weren't fooled that this would stick for long, many felt that this could have introduced a bunch of new stories and interesting set-ups had it been followed through and that many felt that Marvel didn't exactly tap into everything that the set-up offered especially when it became obvious that it was ultimately a grand plan to make One More Day happen.
Some people believe that even One More Day could have worked and deliver a compelling tragedy or even a total Deconstruction of Peter's character if only Marvel Editorial hadn't been painfully lazy, downright cynical, and hacky about it, with the entire work being a demoralizing character assassination.
A number of fans note that many of the stories after OMD could have worked nearly as well if not better with a married Spider-Man and MJ instead of the serial dating and cycle through dead-end relationships status-quo which followed in place. The Parker Industries arc where Peter became a famous businessman would have been cooler if he had remained married with Mary Jane since the unfamiliar situation of Peter dealing with success would have been offset with MJ having experience with celebrity and dealing with fame, while also taking their relationship as a couple to a new place and situation. The fact that at nearly the same time, Bendis gave Mary Jane a similar arc to Peter as a supporting character arc in the Iron Man stories, where MJ becomes a corporate executive in parallel to Peter's rise to the 1%, made many lament the wasted potential of her and Peter not being actual co-workers or partners in a professional setting since that was a role she could have easily played in Peter's Poor Man's Substitute Iron Man phase. Nick Spencer's Spider-Man even has Mary Jane lampshading that she and Peter got back into a relationship in the old status-quo rather than in a position where she was Peter's professional and personal partner which repeats old character beats about her being worried about her Muggle status vis-a-vis Peter's superhero career.
The Secret Wars tie in mini series Renew Your Vows featured Peter married to Mary Jane Watson and raising a daughter, and working together to take down the Regent. This series was promised to have repercussions in the main book with elements carried forward into the main title. And with series such as Weirdworld and Old Man Logan having direct ties to the Secret Wars series, this offered the promise that Peter and MJ's relationship issues would begin begin to be resolved. Instead, the "elements" that were brought over was just the Regent, considered to be the weakest element of the mini series overall for his generic and bland personality.
A number of fans feel this way about Spider-Man as a whole, with many feeling that the lack of aging and the constantly pressed Reset Button prevents him from fulfilling his real potential for Character Development. Many have pointed out that Spider-Man hardly ever evolves into becoming a major player in the Marvel Universe as a whole, or fully tapping into his abilities as a superhero and scientist. Spider-Man started out as Iron Man's senior and is now his junior partner and (in the recent Parker Industries arc, he's Tony's Poor Man's Substitute). The same with the X-Men and Fantastic Four who are both allowed to age while he gets stuck in a rut of eternal mid-to-late 20s.
The Green Goblin was such an iconic villain that attempts to make him a Legacy Character largely didn't work since many saw Harry Osborn, Bart Hamilton, and others, and even the well-liked Hobgoblin as Poor Man's Substitute.
Among those who liked the Hobgoblin, all the replacement Hobgoblins were hated compared to Roderick Kingsley, who set a ludicrously high bar with his outstanding success rate against Spider-Man and general coolness, so when guys like Jason Macendale or Phil Urich turned up they had their every move compared to Kingsley's.
Mary-Jane Watson on account of her long build-up as Aunt May's chosen girl for Peter, and her iconic introduction has been the Spotlight-Stealing Squad among Peter's supporting cast, being charismatic and entertaining, and having chemistry with Peter that nobody had. Neither Gwen Stacy, Felicia Hardy and the Post-OMD girlfriends compared to her, and she's considered one of Marvel's best female characters in general. Mary Jane is at this point so iconic on her own right and is so beloved by most fans, some people wonder if any new Love Interest can feasibly maintain that role for any meaningful amount of time, especially since AU versions of her and Peter as married are still published alongside the regular titles.
Uncanny Valley: In his earlier appearances, Peter was distrusted for emulating a creepy crawly so well. Throw in his sometimes rather painful-looking contortions, as well as his incessant prattling, and it's understandable that he might freak some bystanders out. For example, The Wasp admitted to being creeped out by him.
Unpopular Popular Character: Spider-Man is almost consistently feared and distrusted by the masses in-universe but out of universe he's the company mascot and as famous and proverbial as a hero as Superman and Batman (despite coming on the scene twenty years after both of them). This is also an issue for some fans. Because Spider-Man is the biggest and most famous Marvel hero, many are a little taken aback that within the Marvel superhero community, the likes of Reed Richards, Tony Stark, and Captain America are considered the senior superheroes, when many expect that Spider-Man should be considered the central hero similar to how Superman and Batman are considered as such in their stories.
Villain Decay: There was a period where Venom was suffering this. Whenever him and Spider-Man fought originally, Venom almost killed him on every occasion (Spider-Man once had to fake his death just to escape Venom). When Carnage first showed up, Venom took on both Spidey and the Human Torch (fire being one of his weaknesses). Fast forward a few years to the end of the 1990s. Spidey sends him running scared with a Zippo.
Vindicated by History: The Black Suit arc was widely disliked during publication due to changing Spidey's iconic costume and the attempts at making it Darker and Edgier to fit in with the Dark Age of Comics. Nowadays, the Black Suit is remembered more fondly thanks to later adaptations adding more interesting twists to it and for leading into the creation of Venom.
WTH, Costuming Department?: Black Cat's all-black costume was okay when it appeared in the All-New Marvel NOW! Amazing Spider-Man #1, but afterwards, someone decided that there should be eyes on her shoulders to make it look more like a cat motif. But this also included her boobs substituting for the cat's nose, and the result is one of the stupidest costumes ever conceived in the Modern Age that looks like it belongs to a one-shot, Z-list Silver Age villain.
Spider-Man tends to fall into this when written poorly. Normally is one of two ways: he mopes around way too much about how things tend to go wrong in his life due to being Spider-Man, and/or he blames himself for pretty much EVERYTHING bad that happens around him, even for things that aren't his fault in the slightest (this is what fans mean when they say Peter has a "guilt complex"). His "Parker is dead, I am the Spider!" phase in the '90s and One More Day are the most frequently cited examples. Some claim he had a lot of this in the early Lee/Ditko stories too before John Romita took Ditko's place and lightened things up. And the Sam Raimi films are pretty guilty of this as well due to taking influence from the Ditko era.
Almost every time Peter ran into Venom in the 80s and 90s, he'd constantly remind the audience that he brought the Symbiote to Earth and that makes it his responsibility. What makes it worse is that a lot of the time this was after he'd already made his pact with Venom, so it did feel like he was just whining for the sake of it.
Brock during the Lethal Protector run. One could argue that Brock has always had this problem, but the difference is that beforehand his Wangst was meant to be seen as senseless, pathetic and wrong, whereas when he was made into a hero we were suddenly supposed to actually see him as the victim he had always insisted he was.
Win Back the Crowd: Gwen Stacy in recent years, largely thanks to her adaptations and alternate versions. Weirdly enough, her death was also this. Before her death, Gwen was seen as bland and stuffy, and as someone who loved Peter but wrongfully blamed Spider-Man for her father's death, few fans expected that the relationship would really last. But her death especially for the young readers starting out made her into a beloved Sacred Cow and her modern alternate versions especially Spider-Gwen is seen by many as a compelling take on a character that actually spun out into other media as a cool imagining of a supporting character.
Here's the original from Marvel Super Heroes, and here's the jazzy rendition from Marvel vs. Capcom. Needless to say, fans are hoping that this theme gets remixed for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (Who do you think they're kidding? Spidey's a shoe-in!).
Disappointing Last Level: The final level of the 2000 game, rather than being a straightforward boss fight against Monster Ock, forces you to run through a very linear path with a fixed camera as he chases you, killing you instantly if he catches up, and with little in the way of checkpoints.
Ear Worm: The intros of the 1960's Spider Man, 1990's Spider Man and Spectacular Spider Man cartoons.
Fridge Brilliance: In the PS1 game, human enemies seem incredibly slow, taking a while to aim and shoot or simply swing their guns for a Pistol Whip. At first that may just seem like game balance to keep the first few levels from becoming frustrating experiences where you're continually stun locked and gunned down, but Spider-Man has been shown to be fast enough to dodge bullets before. Your simply perceiving humans to be that slow because Spider-Man is that fast.
Venom doesn't get an arrow marker showing where he is unless you're looking at him, unlike everyone else in the game. It's possible that the arrows represent Spider-Sense, and as we all know, Spider-Sense doesn't work on Venom (a fact that Spidey points out in the game).
In the PS1 games, whenever you web swing outdoors, the web doesn't seem to be sticking to anything than the open sky, until you realize the web actually sticks to the top of the TV displaying the game you're playing.
Inferred Holocaust: After his defeat at the hands of Spider-Man, Cletus Kassady is abandoned by the Carnage symbiote, which then bonds with Doctor Octopus and chases after Spider-Man as the underwater base explodes around them. Considering the fight takes place at the bottom of the lab, it's highly unlikely Kasady managed to escape the explosions, and there's no way he would have survived without the symbiote.
Magnificent Bastard: Faking a HeelFace Turn to present a heroic face to the world, Dr. Otto Octavius plots to force humanity's advancement through the symbiotes. Using proxy criminals to create distractions, Octavius steals vital technology to blanket New York in fog and unleash the symbiotes. Mastering the symbiotes and even keeping the unstable Carnage on a leash, Octavius manages to infest much of New York, nearly pulling off his plane right under Spider-Man's nose while escaping suspicion.
Image Boardslove captioning screen shots of the 1960's animated Spider-Man (1967) series. It helps that the dialogue was already absurd and the animation is hilariously awful.
"I want pictures! Pictures of Spider-Man!"
J. Jonah Jameson is the original image for the Aww Yea Guy.
No Problem with Licensed Games: The PS1\Dreamcast\N64 platformer was considered the best Spider-Man game until the licensed game for the Spider-Man 2 was released four years later — and even then, the former game is often considered a close second in its wake.
Polished Port: The Dreamcast port did a complete graphic and model overhaul to match the system's capabilities compared to the PlayStation original. And they didn't stop at in-game models, too, all of the FMV's were re-rendered to matched the updated graphics, making everyone consistent with their comic book designs!
Porting Disaster: While still good in quality and playability, the N64 version handled by Edge of Reality suffered from muddy graphics, complicated controls that uses the C-pad for action commands, misplaced music (such as the Underwater Trench theme playing in the Stopping the Fog stage), slideshow cutscenes that uses beta footage for the pictures, and the cool Spider-Man theme remix was cut and replaced with a generic looping bass line. The PC version handled by Treyarch and Gray Matter didn't do so hot either, featuring a slew of bugs and glitches that weren't present in any other version of the game, and needs to be patched to hell and back in order to run properly on modern hardware.
That One Boss: Venom in the 2000 video game can turn invisible (read: completely disappear) and reappear anywhere. He has several attacks in which he grabs you and takes out approximately a quarter of your health and there's nothing you can do to stop it.
You fight him twice. And the second time, you're on a time limit!
On some level, the second fight could actually be considered easier than the first. While the first has you fighting in a cramped alleyway with camera issues making it hard to tell where Venom is, the arena for the second fight is far more spacious and comes with respawning power-ups. So long as you can keep on top of Venom's attempts to drown Mary-Jane, it can go a hell of a lot more smoothly.
That One Level: The mission "Missile Attack" from the 2000 video game has you climbing an abandoned building that's been partially boarded up while the police helicopter that's chasing you fires missiles at you. They home in on the parts of the building that are boarded, and if you happen to be on those parts when that happens, you're pretty much screwed. Part way through the level, the chopper starts trying to shoot you more precisely through a sniper-scope, but since you can see the targeting reticule, it's easy to dodge the bullets. Then you have to dodge more missiles. And if you lose there? It's back to the checkpoint, which was before you started the sniper part. There is a pattern to the missile launches, and you can see the missile's targeting reticules so you know what's about to be hit, but it's still frustratingly hard.