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I mean, not an exact one-to-one recreation of George Bailey, but the spirit and the heart of the character. A man who will always put the needs of others ahead of himself. Even if he doesn't want to, even if he knows it'll hurt, even if it costs him his dreams, he does it without fail every time, because it's the right thing to do. Everyone's friend, who always does his best to help anyone who might be down on their luck.
And not just as Spider-Man, but as Peter Parker, too. If, say, Scorpion busts into the Daily Bugle and tries to threaten Peter to give him information on Spider-Man's whereabouts, everyone in the Bugle should jump to his defense, because fuck you, Peter's been working here since he was fifteen years old!
And if Peter's ever in serious trouble and someone else in the superhero community knows about it: "Didn't ask any questions, just said 'Peter in trouble? Count me in!'"
Except for that time his Aunt was dying from a bullet wound and every one of them said, "boy, bye". In the comics, the world and society bail on Peter/Spiderman as often as they do the other thing. Octopus hacked your body and did stuff that isn't your fault, yeah well screw you. Iron Man also defended the Registration Act by citing Peter dropping the ball on Gwen Stacy, saying he could have avoided it if Peter had training...which is a pretty cheap and low blow to say in general, but especially bad for a weapons manufacturer.
To me, the appeal of George Bailey is precisely that he's not a superhero. He's a regular guy. That's always the problem with superheroes even someone as relatable and everyman like as Peter Parker. Even at his worst, his life is more glamorous, adventurous, and enviable than many of ours is at our best. I mean Peter struggles and scraps by but he lives in New York City, and will never get so poor that he has to move out as so many people in New York have had to do in the last three decades because you can't do Spiderman without New York, I mean you can in theory but nobody in Marvel would allow it.
Anyone feel like making a list of cities Pete could work on?
It has to have a lot of tall buildings and elevation and extensive urbanization. Chicago maybe? The elevated train from Spider-Man 2 was basically the Loop + CGI and sets, when elevated trains have been missing in Manhattan for more than fifty years at this point. Los Angeles could also work. San Francisco being hilly, and having cool topography feels like it would be interesting but it's also a very small city, although given Spider-Man's greater tech-focused and science-centric nature in his recent stories, the Bay Area seems like a fitting place for him to be. It also has many iconic bridges for bad guys to drop his girlfriends from.
On the other hand, I think writers should go past the idea that web swinging or web based powers can't work in small places. I mean the early Spider-Man stories had a lot of variety in locales. Like one of my favorites, "The Grotesque Adventure of the Green Goblin" (which I think is the all-time best title for any Spider-Man story) had Spider-Man in Hollywood and fight the Enforcers and the Goblin on the sets of a wild west location which becomes a chase in a cave where he meets and runs from the Hulk. So you can do Spider-Man outside New York, and it's been done a lot of times in the early stories and later on. But this is a broader problem with Marvel setting their stories in New York. It worked in The '60s but as time passes, the real New York has become an entirely different city from the one in the comics and it will continue to do so. Eventually Marvel might have to go the DC way and give each Superhero their own fictional city to operate in.
Edited by Revolutionary_Jack on Nov 6th 2018 at 7:00:15 AM
I at first was thinking of the George Bailey comparision in terms of the "Parker Luck", but the more I think about it, the George Bailey comparison is a really good one.
Like what makes A Wonderful Life interesting is the fact that although he does do a lot of good, selfless things even/especially when it hurts, George started out with these dreams of fame and fortune and you can tell he always feels some measure of justified bitterness, which of course overwhelms him when things go really wrong during the movie. And even though it has a happy ending, I don't think the movie promises that good actions will always be rewarded.
And with Peter, his super-heroing career started out after him acting selfishly went horribly wrong and even beyond Ditko's "Objectivist take", I think there's always been a certain amount of bitterness in Peter's character, most famously in recreations of the iconic scene where he dumps his costume in the trash.
And just as George Bailey has other contemporaries who are much more successful, Peter kind of has that with other superheroes. In particular, just as George Bailey has Sam Wainright, Peter has Tony Stark.
Edit- In terms of Revolutionary Jack's argument, I wouldn't dispute that Peter's life as a super-hero or otherwise is better than that of George Bailey, but I think the George Bailey comparison works in terms of how Peter is depicted compared to others he interacts with. Not to mention, George Bailey was a young guy during the Great Depression and World War II whereas Peter is or was a Baby Boomer. So, in that sense, of course, Peter's life is objectively better than George's. But by the standards of the settings of the comics, Peter is typically not that successful.
Edit 2- I should note though that one difference between the two is that although George's whole thing is basically that he improves the lives of everyone around him, Peter has often had a thing (and a source of bitterness) where he ruins the lives of people around him due to unexpected consequences of his super-heroing.
Edited by Hodor2 on Nov 6th 2018 at 9:04:36 AM
I am not sure about Steve Ditko's "objectivist-take" having to do with that. Ditko said that he wrote Mr. A as explicit propaganda about his objectivist beliefs, and wanted it to be separate from his commercial work, and while there's a lot of his personality in Peter Parker (namely for the fact that his Peter is a dead ringer for Ditko◊ in high school) I don't think he saw Spider-Man as an objectivist hero. Any more than his early career writing horror comics for Warren has Objectivist propaganda. He just saw him as an adventure story and coming-of-age story. I mean there's so many legends about that, like that myth about him leaving Spider-Man because he didn't want Osborn to be Goblin because it offended his objectivist beliefs, which has been debunked quite thoroughly but people still trot it about. This in a weird bay is related to It's A Wonderful Life because Frank Capra in real life had very conservative and reactionary views despite having a somewhat liberal reputation for the movies he made in the '30s.
The only way to settle the Parker/Bailey story is do a story that shows Peter what life would be like if he hadn't been born. Maybe someone has done that already. In One More Day, one of the visions shows Peter the life he would have had if he hadn't been bitten by a spider, that he'd be some tech-magnate but never meet or marry MJ and so on. This was actually the rejected initial idea for the vision scene in It's A Wonderful Life, where George Bailey sees what life would have been like if he left Bedford Falls and become rich (short answer, he becomes Mr. Potter).
Edited by Revolutionary_Jack on Nov 6th 2018 at 7:16:11 AM
Thereís a lot of What Ifs where Peter never gets bitten
Itís one of the favorite What Ifferies
Spider-Gwen spun-off from that. In that version Peter became the Lizard based on the idea that Amazing Fantasy #15 Peter is some budding school shooter according to Dan Slott and others. I think that's a poor reading of Peter in that comic, I mean he's still so devoted to his Uncle and Aunt even then. I like the What-If where it's Aunt May who dies instead of Ben, and somehow Peter becomes a Spider-Man with a no-kill rule, which was interesting to read, and Ben and Peter have a new dynamic.
With all this Spider-Verse and Spider-Geddon stuff, I actually wonder the point of "What-If" is because basically a big chunk of 616 Peter's life is based on alternate versions of himself. Miles Morales is imported from the Ultimate Universe. Thanks to OMD, the Peter we have is not the same one from Amazing Fantasy #15 onwards anymore. He's an alternate version too. Having his life hijacked by Dr. Octopus for more than a year, means that there's another version of his life whose consequence shape him and so on. It's like the Clone Saga, without any clones.
To clarify my comment on Ditko and Objectivism, what I meant is that my understanding is that the early, Ditko-written Peter was rather contemptuous of those around him, especially his peers, and the underlying idea was that he thought he was better than him, even though they were more successful/popular, and he was right.
And although subsequent writers largely ditched that depiction, I think vestiges of it have always remained in terms of Peter being a bit of a jerk (mostly but not exclusively in costume) and having a certain amount of regret about choices that have meant a less comfortably life in all respects.
And I think these are also qualities reflected in George Bailey. He is definitely a bit of a jerk and what makes his good decisions difficult and painful is that you feel like he could have easily been very financially successful. It's just that his choices (and to an extent other life circumstances) ruled it out.
I'm aware that both Capra and Jimmy Stewart were quite conservative. For what it's worth, although I'm not positive to the extent that either supported the New Deal (I think no actually in at least Capra's case), if you didn't know that, I think a viewer would quite easily conclude that the film had a pro New Deal perspective. Which is not to say that it is necessarilyy otherwise liberal.
I just cited Capra's politics to show that art is a lot more complicated than even the ideas that artists claim they believe in. Just because Steve Ditko became a die-hard objectivist (quite literally, he was so self-isolated that his body wasn't found for several days after he died) doesn't change that he was a writer and artist with a certain talent and realism, and that complicates his ideas in a lot of ways. And also Ditko belonged to an era of commercial art where comics were disreputable and the idea of using superheroes to express personal ideas wasn't something that came naturally to everyone. Doctor Strange in a lot of ways was probably more personal for Ditko since he had a lot more freedom and less interference there and it's very much a visual extravaganza but that's even less infected with Objectivism than Spider-Man. And Ditko's earlier career was horror comics by Warren which Alan Moore and others consider his best work.
Peter always loved Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and never denied what he owed to them. That doesn't make him Objectivist. An Objectivist hero is supposed to owe nothing to their parents and their roots. Ayn Rand for instance never had a kind word to say about her relatives who brought her to America from USSR (on an entirely legal and commie-approved visa, quite hard to get at that time by the way. She was no dissident despite what she later affected to be). An objectivist Peter would never feel any remorse about Uncle Ben's death or feel any responsibility regarding that.
Of course that might be Lee more than Ditko, but since the plotting was entirely done by Ditko and Ditko's art sells the emotion of the scenes, I don't think there was any issue or contestation about that between them. Nor of course the famous lifting machinery panels which is all about Peter using the memory of his loved ones and what he owes them to come Back from the Brink.
I see your point. And for what it's worth, although Ayn Rand was an awful person, I don't assume that everyone who is an acolyte of Objectivism is also a horrible person and/or that they follow the philosophy 100% of the time, including in their feelings and actions toward loved ones (just the fact that they have loved ones isn't necessarily Objectivist).
So yeah, I probably shouldn't have used the term. A better of putting it would probably be that Ditko's Peter was somewhat more misanthropic than the take of later writers and whether intentionally tied to Objectivism or not, a big part of the characterization is the fact that he's better than his more popular and successful peers.
I also can't avoid mentioning the (in)famous panel where Ditko wanted Spider-Man to be yelling at hippie protestors and (IIRC) Stan Lee changed the dialogue to have Spidey voice support. One reason it came to mind is that Nick Spencer recently had some jokes about that scene in terms of Peter apologizing for a lot of things, including his flirtation with the works of Ayn Rand.
That never happened.
This is the offending panel◊. And it's not a hippie protest it's just a bunch of college students and it's basically a satire on student protests being all about cutting classes rather than civil rights or protesting the war (i.e. against the Vietnam War, which Ayn Rand opposed anyway for what it's worth). And Stan Lee didn't change the dialogues or go against Ditko's intent there. Peter dismisses the protests but because Harry, Gwen and Flash see him exchanging words they assume he's a protestor. It's part of the usual Peter being aloof and misunderstood in college bit that Ditko ran with during the "If this be my destiny" thing. Now of course claiming college student protests are basically hacks without conviction who the "real" hero such as Peter has no feelings towards is conservative as a satire but it's also not tied to any ideology. And you can see similar stuff in many satires, like you know Monty Python parodies the left and so on, and Life of Brian says that the Romans help people more than the rebels and so on. It's not objectivist there, it's just usual British skepticism.
And as for Lee being sympathetic to hippies, remember he worked and created Iron-Man which was a hippie-baiting character intended to basically get counter-culture audiences to root for "the man". I honestly don't think he would have cared if Ditko went objectivist as long as it didn't affect sales. Remember he okayed Gwen Stacy's death and only disavowed it once fan letters came in and so on.
Edited by Revolutionary_Jack on Nov 6th 2018 at 11:06:12 AM
I just wanna point out that my original point wasn't that Peter Parker is George Bailey, but my idea of the ideal/best way to write Peter was to make him like George Bailey. Jesus.
It's obviously a good topic that gave people to add in a lot more than five cents. I would also like to add that George Bailey is older, is married, and has kids. That's not a direction Marvel wants to take Peter.
Edited by Revolutionary_Jack on Nov 6th 2018 at 2:22:51 AM
It is, I just felt like it kinda got away from me and got misconstrued to imply that I was saying "Peter Parker is George Bailey", which was misconstrued and let people who didn't agree with that specific idea to point out the differences between the two characters as though that invalidates the original point.
Since I did the misconstruing, I am sorry if upset you in any way. Peter as he exists shares a responsibility and love for people that Bailey has but he also has this sense of humor and a tendency to not take himself too seriously whereas I feel Bailey's big problem was that he was very serious and writing Peter as if he's Bailey means making him serious. I mean the only thing that stops Bailey from going through with suicide is a vision that basically shows he's the messiah. I don't think Peter is that egotistical. I don't see him ever going ahead with suicide to start with, but the only thing that makes him live is basically a divine validation that he is the best person ever, that I think would give people pause. I mean it's one of the reason why Capra's movie tends to have a lot of debate about what it's trying to say beyond the obvious message, and why that movie was quite disliked in its year of release, even by Capra's friends.
Edited by Revolutionary_Jack on Nov 6th 2018 at 2:46:24 AM
How about we all share some wheat cakes?
That sounds like a plan to me.
As long as Frank Cho's not the one drawing us eating them. :P
Sounds like a plan. Count me in.
Although I will say that it's very disingenuous to say that George Bailey had to be told that he was the Messiah to stop from killing himself. By his own admission in his prayer to God in the scene at the bar, he was at the end of his rope. After a lifetime of struggling and saving and scraping by, working himself to the bone, doing everything he could, of always putting others before himself, it looked like he was going to go to prison. Which, in the forties, would probably be extra bad for his family.
Then, just to kick him while he was down, Mr. Potter tells George that he's worth more dead than alive. And when he prays to God, as far as he can tell, God answers him by punching him in the face. And then he wrecks his car and gets yelled at. The money on George's life insurance policy would have been enough to keep his family taken care of for at least a while and out of prison.
Basically, what Clarence did for George wasn't just to tell him that he saved people's lives and that he made a difference to them, but that his life mattered, that it meant something, like when the One-Above-All showed up and showed Peter a fraction of the people he'd saved all throughout his career. And when George gets his life back, he has no idea what Mary's done, as far as he knows, he's still going to federal prison. But he's alive, Harry's alive, his children are alive, and he's back in Bedford Falls.
I am merely suggesting one way at looking at it. I mean the movie works as it is. It's emotional and powerful but you have to ask of all the things Capra could show George to convince him his life mattered why did he choose that? That was entirely him since the original script idea called for Bailey to get a vision of becoming a successful but corrupt and lonely businessman (i.e. he becomes Mr. Potter). Some of the What-If of Peter shows a happier and successful Peter as becoming like his enemies. House of M Peter marries Gwen and becomes successful and famous but he becomes an a-hole who bullies J. Jonah Jameson, acts like an entitled celebrity and its implied that he's cheating on Gwen with MJ, and he also goes crazy and indulges in self-sabotage via a double life, in other words he becomes like Jameson and Osborn. Basically, Misery Builds Character, a good Peter is a sad and unsuccessful Peter. Interestingly, Alan Moore's recent comic series Cinema Purgatorio had him riff on Capra's film and it basically touches on the same themes as what I am talking about here.
Edited by Revolutionary_Jack on Nov 6th 2018 at 4:33:25 AM
I always wondered if that was some part of Peter buried deep inside, fighting back against a world that he knew was wrong and, in classic Parker fashion, he didn't think he deserved. He was rich, Spider-Man was beloved, Gwen was alive, Uncle Ben was alive, he had a son, Aunt May never got sick, Norman Osborne lost all his power and would never become a force great enough to destroy his life. And, even if they weren't married, Mary Jane got to live the life of a rich, successful, A-List actress she'd always wanted.
So why, in the name of FUCK, does Peter Parker keep a journal of all these memories and dreams where he confesses to not being a Mutant? Why does he leave even the slightest chance that this can be found? Because Peter Parker knows, deep down inside, that this isn't the way the world is supposed to work.
It's part of the whole tradition that goes back to For the Man Who Has Everything, the hero always chooses the hard unrewarding reality over the comforting truth. That happens in House of M, Peter sabotages himself and screws up his life as a form of resistance. Of course the meaning of House of M is tarnished now that One More Day happens because the Post-OMD continuity is also an alternate reality and illusion built on a lie and Peter doesn't know or suspect the nature of that reality nor does he try to resist. I mean it's one of the reasons why that story is so irredemable, because until you deal or address it or have Peter face up to the fact that he sold his wife, you can never restore meaning and reality to the Post-OMD world.
I think it's for the best that we collectively move on from OMD. It's never going to be resolved in a way people will like.
Edited by RodimusMinor on Nov 8th 2018 at 5:30:04 AM
Sure it is. We just have to OMD OMD. Yes, that's right: Peter must make another deal with Mephisto...that will invalidate his previous deal! And so he suddenly wakes up married and with a six year old kid! But also Aunt May is dead and, let's say, some random Spider-Man character is back to being alive.
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