The trouble with Spider-Man
I’m a big fan of Spider-Man and have been watching a lot of the different animated series on Netflix lately. The more of it I watch though, the more a few things really stand out to me. In fact, so much so that it distracts from the storytelling. Now granted, not only is the show fictional and a cartoon, it’s also of the super hero genre. But! Even though I’m supposed to suspend disbelief, my mind still has a hard time when it comes to some of the fundamentals.
The story goes that Peter Parker’s DNA was altered by a spider bite. The alteration gives him superhuman strength and agility, spider sense and the ability to climb walls. Depending on the version, he also gets the ability to shoot webbing from his wrists, but I’ll get to that later.
If Spidey can stick to walls because of a genetic alteration it’s because something in his fingers and toes has changed. It would therefore stand to reason that if he covers his hands and feet with gloves and boots, he’s effectively covering up the very thing that would allow him to climb walls. Worse, in the Spider-Man TV series, Peter Parker’s even portrayed sticking to a wall with his feet only while wearing sneakers! If the writers and animators wanted to make the story believable, Spidey would have to go around without anything covering his hands and feet. Disbelief: 1, Suspension: 0.
What’s more, even though his spider “stickiness” allows him to stick to walls with enough strength to carry 170 adults on his back, I can’t help but wonder how a normal, everyday wall made of plaster would hold even one, 167 pound person without caving in or collapsing. Let alone the surfaces he sticks to while catching falling people and debris with his webbing. I get the feeling that Spider-Man would spend a lot more time recovering from falls off unstable walls than he does currently. Disbelief: 2, Suspension: 0.
Finally, a prominent feature of any Spider-man story is his primary mode of transportation: web slinging. He gets around town by firing a good hundred feet of web per swing. All of that webbing has to come from somewhere. We’re supposed to believe that Peter Parker is perpetually broke, yet he can afford to pay for all that webbing? He even says that it “costs him a fortune” in the animated series. What fortune? He’s supposed to be broke! And even if he could afford it, I can’t even begin to imagine how you’d fit even one shot’s worth in those tiny, wrist-mounted cartridges. Of course there is the alternate storyline that says he’s able to produce webbing from his own body. But that doesn’t work either. His system couldn’t possibly keep up with the demand. He’d likely fire one shot and be drained. But say for the sake of argument that he was able to produce all that webbing, he’d have to be eating constantly to provide his body with raw materials to produce the stuff. And even if he was continually stuffing his face, remember, he’s supposed to be broke. Who’s buying him all that food? Disbelief: 3, Suspension: 0.
So these are the things that go through my mind while I watch Spidey fighting bad guys. Maybe I’m the only one. Who knows.