Facing death everyday to make our lives better is the breakfast for any super hero. Thanks to mass media coverage of their deeds, everyone today is familiar with the two super heroes: Batman and Spider-man. Which of them, however, is the better example of a paragon of justice? Only by comparing Batman and Spider-man’s past, the challenges they face, and the choices they make can we determine that The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is more heroic that The Dark Knight.
On one hand we have Bruce Wayne: the million-dollar playboy with a traumatic past. When he was a child a street criminal, Joe Chill, murdered his parents. Bruce was left alive to watch his parents die. He became consumed with thoughts of revenge, which eventually drove him from the country and into a Korean prison. He was found by Ra’s Al Ghul and trained to eventually possess the skills of Batman. From that point, Bruce began his path of vengeance. These paths, however, seem to have a way of turning against the walker. This was illustrated by the emergence of the sociopath, The Joker. The Joker provided the greatest challenge for Batman because of his devious cunning. Batman was forced to either let the Joker go, or break his only rule: Not to be an executioner. Batman was unable to fall to the Joker’s level and managed to stay in the realm of heroism. These reasons explain why Batman is considered the heroic ‘Angel of Vengeance’, or perhaps, a vigilante more than a hero?
On the other hand we have Peter Parker: the near-impoverished college student with radioactive blood. At first, Peter used these powers selfishly and his inaction resulted in the horrible death of his uncle, Ben Parker. Ben and his wife, May, were the only family that Peter had ever known, so Ben’s death was a horrible shock to Peter. Peter then tracked the killer down for revenge. But Peter never killed him; the man accidentally fell out a several story building to his death. It was then that Peter created his ‘golden rule’: “With great power comes great responsibility.” (Lee). This creed lead Spider-man to become one of the greatest crime-fighting forces in New York City’s history. Then Spider-man met with the alien symbiote. What appeared to be a powerful gift, was much more sinister. Spider-man became nearly feral, and had to reject the sentient suit. This act gave rise to perhaps the most evil force that Spider-man would ever have to face: Venom. A vile, beastly creature obsessed with one thing: killing Spider-man. When these two sworn enemies clashed it came down to this simple result: kill, or be killed. Spider-man knew that there was a man beneath the black goo of the Venom symbiote, and could hardly stand the thought of killing him. Thanks to his quick wit and lightning-fast mind, Spider-man found out the villain’s weakness and subdued him, staying true to himself. Spider-man continues to fight crime for one reason: keeping the citizens of his city safe.
In conclusion, it is easy to classify a hero by his deeds. Batman: the most terrible force of justice, fighting crime in hopes of avenging those who have been hurt by it. Spider-man: the truest example of a hero. Managing a near-impoverished secret identity, and still managing to save the day on a regular basis. The choices he makes, and his reasons for fighting crime make him a hero. To me, and his creator Stan Lee, being out to save the day, and the simple fact that he faces more super-powered enemies than Batman can wave a bat-arang at, make your friendly neighborhood Spider-man the perfect example of a ‘true hero’. Remember, a man can fight for vengeance, but it takes a heroic man to fight to save those in harms way.
Lee, Stan. The Amazing Spider-Man. Marvel Comics. New York, New York, 1962.