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A hero today and yesterday - Essay Example

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In mythology, a hero is often defined as a man with divine ancestry who demonstrates great strength, physically and morally, and great courage. He is typically celebrated for accomplishing impossible deeds, sometimes for the…
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A Hero Today and Yesterday: Spiderman The word “hero” is defined in several ways. In mythology, a herois often defined as a man with divine ancestry who demonstrates great strength, physically and morally, and great courage. He is typically celebrated for accomplishing impossible deeds, sometimes for the betterment of mankind, and is always favored by the gods, or at least a majority of them. A hero is also a person who gains notoriety as a result of showing great courage or nobility of purpose in the accomplishment of a deed or a lifetime. Those who gain greatest notoriety are those who have risked their own lives to save the lives of others. Under both of these definitions, then, Spiderman can be considered a hero. Despite the fact that he’s a fictional character, Spiderman emerged in comic book form in the 1960s in just enough time to give adolescents a courageous figure to look up to at a time when definitions being provided in the news were delivering conflicting messages regarding real-life figures to admire. Re-makes of the comic book hero into motion picture form in the 1990s has again provided children with a role model in a changing world. Although the character of Spiderman of the 60s and Spiderman of the 90s share several common characteristics, there are some significant changes that have been made to his character to meet the demands of the more worldly audience of the modern city.
Whether experiencing Spiderman in the 60s or the 90s, there are several fundamental characteristics and biographical notes regarding the character that remain unchanged. That Peter Parker is a somewhat socially inept teenaged bookworm that lives with his aunt and uncle is a common theme that serves to both humanize him and to make him an approachable figure for the adolescent crowd. His difficulties adjusting to society, making a living and struggling to come to grips with himself reveal how he is just as human as the next guy. He becomes a person they can relate to by his somewhat unconscious mumblings that reveal his thoughts and his own wry sense of humor at the trouble he gets himself into. He also doesn’t set out to save the world the moment he realizes his new talents. Instead, he sets out to make money and is somewhat dragged into helping others by his human sense of what is right. Although he has hyper sensitive hearing, vision and other senses, he is a hero not because of the things he can do, but because of the way he uses those talents to do the things that he does.
There are a few fundamental differences between the character of the 60s Spiderman and that of the 90s Spiderman. To provide a believable character in the more modern time, it was necessary to provide Peter with a few more grown-up attributes, such as a chance to get the girl and a more realistic connection to the world of high finance from the low-income tenement homes he shares with his aunt. While he is shown to have to be highly scientific in earlier versions, his brilliance is allowed to be developed slowly, emerging as his confidence in his new abilities. His unique ability to throw webbing to help transport him through the city is the result of an invention he develops and incorporates into his suit. Partly because of the short attention span of the modern audience, the Spiderman of the 1990s is instead shown to be a scientific whiz kid through his conversations with college professors and in-town inventors and allows the webbing to be a part of the gifts he’d received from the spider bite, thereby quelling any technologically savvy questions regarding the storage and quantity of thread. The more modern Spiderman also adds to his human ethos by undergoing a difficult and detailed early adjustment period in which he discovers the effects of ignoring his feelings in attempting to withdraw from Mary Jane (MJ) as well as the effects of attempting to deny his abilities.
Although there are differences in the characters of Spiderman as he progresses from the 1960s to the 1990s, such as the detail and depth of his human appeal and his supernatural versus human abilities, the similarities are significant enough to provide a consistent hero and role model for today’s as well as yesterday’s adolescent audience. Both characters were able to appeal to their contemporary audience by demonstrating many of the same human frailties and flaws experienced by the average teenager. The changes between the two characters are necessary adjustments to remain in keeping with this concept. Both characters enter into the hero business reluctantly after discovering the cost of pursuing money and fame. The more modern Spiderman’s progress through this realization is more dramatized and obvious than the previous version, reflecting the changing attention span of the modern demographic. Both characters, in the end, demonstrate that the difference between a hero and an average person is not in the abilities one has, but the way in which one uses them that is important.
Works Cited
“Hero.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th Ed.). New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.
Spiderman. Dir. Sam Raimi. Perf. Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst & James Franco. Sony Pictures, 2002.
“Spiderman Biography, History.” Superhero Stuff. Portland, OR: (February 2006). March 23, 2006 <>Read More
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