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The Non-Geek's Guide to Spider-Man

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Jul 03, 2012 | 3:49am EDT

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ALTSpider-Man, Spider-Man. He does whatever a hyphenated superhero can. Makes a web, any size. Catches blockbuster millions, just like flies.

If you didn't get that reference to the Spider-Man theme song then you are a jerk. Even worse, you're a jerk who needs to learn a thing or two about Spider-Man before he returns on July 3rd in The Amazing Spider-Man to try to take over the Cineplex once again.

So, if you somehow have gone through your entire life without hearing anything about the webslinger, I am here to answer all your non-nerd questions. Let's get started.

So, I take it this Spider-Man is some sort of superhero?

Yes, that is true. According to the comic books, Peter Parker, an unassuming high school student, lives in Queens with his aunt and uncle and one day, while visiting a science lab, he is bitten by a spider that was treated with radioactivity (which, contrary to popular belief, is not just what Ryan Seacrest does on FM). When he was bitten by the spider, he got super powers.

What exactly are his gifts?

He can walk up walls and hang from ceilings, just like a spider. He has super-human strength, speed and jumping abilities. Also, he has this thing called a "spider sense" that lets him know when he's about to be in danger. It's really hard to show in the movies and in the comics it's shown as a bunch of silly black squiggles, but it's always there.

Doesn't he have some crazy web power, too?

As a matter of fact... he does not.

But in the movie...

Ha! I knew you had seen the movie! Yes, in the Sam Raimi movie Spider-Man he gave the character the ability to shoot webs out of his hands. When Stan Lee — who created the X-Men, Incredible Hulk and every other cool Marvel character — debuted the character in 1962, he did not have web powers. Instead, Peter Parker, a science nerd of the highest order, created a solvent that is like liquid webbing and also this crazy web slinging bracelet that he wore. It had a button in the middle of his palm that he would press to eject the web. That's why, when you see him shooting, his middle two fingers are pressing his palm.

So, this guy not only has super powers, but he's some kind of mechanical genius, too? I don't buy it!

That's why Raimi just made it one of his super powers, because it's easier to believe. Mark Webb, the director of the latest movie, has restored the mythology to the original, and he has his web gizmos built into his costume.

How many movies have there been?

Well, the three Sam Raimi movies, the first two of which are awesome and the third one which totally sucked.

Yeah, it was awful.

You saw that one too?

Only the second half on HBO once.

Still, it was awful. There have been a ton of cartoons on and off since the '60s and a new toon just started this year. There was also a live action TV show The Amazing Spider-Man in 1978.

God, how cheesy was that?

It was mad cheesy.

What else do I need to know about this Spider-Man?

Well, he lives in Queens with his Aunt May and his Uncle Ben...

The rice guy?

No, he was white. His Uncle Ben got shot by a criminal that Spider-Man could have stopped but didn't because he was being a bratty teenage jerk. That's when he learned the lesson he teaches again and again, "With great power comes great responsibility." After that day, Spider-Man fought crime around New York and kept his identity a secret so his family couldn't be hurt. This is especially handy because everyone thinks he's a threat to society.

Why do they think that if he's trying to save the day?

Well, there's this jerk J. Jonah Jameson who owns the Daily Bugle, a New York tabloid where Peter works as a photographer, and Jameson is always printing misleading stories about Spider-Man in the paper and making his life hell and making people believe he's a Muslim who was born in Kenya.

Is J. Jonah Jameson supposed to be Rupert Murdoch?

Basically.

Does Spider-Man have a girlfriend?

Well, in the comics, he has a wife named Mary Jane Parker, who is a red-headed former model who was played by Kiki Dunst in the original movies. In this movie he has a girlfriend named Gwen Stacy played by Emma Stone. In the comic, she is killed by the Green Goblin.

Spoiler alert!

Oh please, it already happened. And the green goblin isn't even in this movie. The villain is Dr. Curt Conners, otherwise known as The Lizard.

Isn't there also a bunch of stuff about Peter's parents?

In this movie? Yes. In one particular run of the comics, they were a pair of spies who met on the job and were killed by the Red Skull on a mission gone bad.

Wait, isn't that the villain from the Captain America movie?

Yes.

OK, this is getting way too confusing.

But I don't think there's a Red Skull in this. I don't know what's going to happen with the parents!

So, do you think this is too soon to reboot this franchise after the last Spider-Man movie was only five years ago?

Yes. But I'm still going to go see it anyway.

Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan

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