Movies & Television

Peter B. Parker: A Hero for the Jaded and Janky

Okay, let’s do this one more time. Into the Spider-Verse is Sony’s successful animated Spider-Man movie that brought many characters to the big screen that fans have been requesting for a long time. It features Miles Morales, Gwen Stacy, and a gaggle of other versions of Spider-Man we’ve never seen in a movie. It also features a variety of favorite from Spider-Man’s rogue gallery, including Scorpion, Prowler, and Kingpin. The Peter Parker you see in this movie isn’t the one you’ve seen in past Spider-Man films. He’s older, somewhat wiser, and needs to stretch before every mission. He’s, as Miles describes, a “janky, old, hobo Spider-Man.”

Peter B. Parker sports a gut, five o’clock shadow, and gray sweatpants for most the movie. I also assume he’s gotten to the point where he needs a cup of coffee to stay awake during morning missions and comes home sore every night.

He appears as a bit of a dark character when he’s first introduced. Mary Jane’s left him, Aunt May’s died, and he’s living in a dirty apartment. While those aren’t situations every person has experienced, they make him seem a bit more relatable to someone in later stages of life than the starry-eyed Tom Holland version. I feel like we’ve become so used to seeing Spider-Man as a kid that seeing him going through adulthood is a fresh, change-of-pace.

Peter B. Parker is, at first, very unwilling to help Miles in destroying a devious machine Kingpin has cooked up. This shocks Miles, since the Peter Parker of his universe was young, heroic, and passionate.

One of the most interesting traits about this Peter is how he’s become jaded about being Spider-Man. He seems to treat it like it’s any average job. And I think a lot of us can relate to being optimistic about something, but as the years go on, starting to lose that passion. You begin to just go through the motions. You can ask any band that still plays the same hit song they’ve played thousands of times.

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Peter B. Parker seems like such an average dude, you almost forget he’s a hero that’s saved the world on several occasions. You see him gaining weight, making bad money decisions, losing loved ones, and those things happen to a good chunk of us when we get older. But that’s the magic of Spider-Man. From his first appearance in the 1960s, there was always something in the character your average kid could relate to. Nowadays, it’s just amazing to me that I have a Spider-Man I can still see myself in.

Something has to be said for the performance of Jake Johnson as Peter B. Parker. He makes the character sound like that friend that would crash on your couch for a few days. Jake Johnson plays a similar character on the TV show New Girl, and has become somewhat synonymous with playing the laid-back guy in sweatpants. He’s also had roles in Get Him to the Greek, Drinking Buddies, and Jurassic World.

Near the end of Into the Spider-Verse is when you see Peter B. Parker’s character at his darkest moment. He’s willing to sacrifice himself to send all his friends home. While this sacrifice is heroic, it’s also pretty sad, considering a major reason he’s doing it is because he’s too scared to go home. He fears messing up his relationship with Mary Jane even further. Thankfully, Miles swoops in and reminds Peter how important it is to take that “leap of faith.” Miles’ “leap of faith” was taking the plunge into being New York’s new Spider-Man. Peter’s “leap of faith” is trying to be the man he once was. Neither of them is sure if they can accomplish what they set out for. They have the same fear and anxiety anyone gets when making a major decision about their lives. But with the help of each other, they decide to try anyway.

While this incarnation of Peter Parker may at first seem to be a pessimistic choice for someone to relate to, I saw him as inspiring. During his introduction, we see a Peter Parker that has let the world beat him down and made him forget why he loves being Spider-Man. But he learns from his new friends that he can be better. He learns he can still be passionate about what he loves, and I think that’s something we tend to forget as we get older. Into the Spider-Verse is a movie about being the best version of yourself, or at least trying to be.

Into the Spider-Verse features a brand-new animation style that uses a mixture of still images and C.G.I. The movie was released in theaters in the US on December 14, 2018 and will be released on Digital and Blu-Ray on March 19, 2019. Check out some of the best scenes from other Spider-Man films, here.

This post was written by John. He lives in South Carolina with his wife and dog. He likes comics, a healthy mixture of punk and hip hop, and food with a strong kick of spice. He also writes webcomics over at rantscomics.com.  

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