- Spider-Man was Marvel’s first relatable hero, changing the way Marvel created characters and making them more down-to-earth and relatable to readers.
- Venom’s popularity led to the birth of other symbiote characters and major Marvel events like Maximum Carnage, showing the huge impact Spider-Man’s black costume had.
- Spider-Man joining the New Avengers changed the team dynamic and paved the way for a new era where almost everyone became an Avenger, reshaping the way the Avengers worked.
Spider-Man wasn’t Marvel’s first hero, but he was the first of a new breed. The Silver Age brought Marvel back to the superhero game, and while they had a lot of success right out the gate, Spider-Man represented a new level. Up until Spider-Man, Marvel’s heroes were basically Cold War exemplars of what an American should be – talented people who used their gifts to help the people around them – that were role models but not really relatable.
Spider-Man changed that. The readers understood Spider-Man because they were Spider-Man. This would change the way Marvel created characters. It was the first big change to Marvel that Spider-Man made, but it wouldn’t be the last. Spider-Man’s history is full of moments where the character had a huge impact on the Marvel Universe.
10 Venom Was The First In A Long Line Of Symbiote Characters Who Had A Huge Impact
Spider-Man’s black costume, introduced in Secret Wars #8, would eventually bring the Wall-Crawler a new villain. The living black costume would try to bond with Spider-Man, who would reject it and try to kill it by using a massive church bell, taking advantage of its weakness to sonics. The symbiote would survive, and bonded with Eddie Brock, who lost his job because of Peter Parker. The two became Venom, Spider-Man’s scariest villain in years. Spider-Man and Venom had some brutal battles, made all the worse because Venom knew Spider-Man’s secret identity.
Venom’s massive popularity would lead to a redemption, then a return to villainy, and several more people taking up the mantle, like Flash Thompson and Mac Gargan, before Brock and Venom returned to the hero game. During these long years, Venom would birth other symbiotes like Carnage and Toxin. This meant that Marvel events like Maximum Carnage, Absolute Carnage, King in Black, Summer of Symbiotes, and more would all come about because of Venom and the symbiotic costume.
9 Spider-Man Joining The New Avengers Changed The Team In The Years To Come
Spider-Man’s early days saw him try to join the Fantastic Four because he thought they got paid and turning down the X-Men because he wasn’t actually a mutant. Spider-Man eventually became a reserve Avenger, showing up when the team needed his help, but no one really considered him an Avenger. All of that would change with the attack on the Vault during New Avengers: Breakout, where Spider-Man would team up with Captain America, Iron Man, Luke Cage, and Spider-Woman.
The group hunted down Electro, who was responsible for Vault incident, and then went to the Savage Land to investigate, where they met up with Wolverine. Spider-Man, and Wolverine, joining the New Avengers changed the way the Avenger worked. For years, the Avengers usually pulled from the same pool of heroes. However, bringing Spider-Man onboard changed the way the team worked and would lead to the Avengers teams of the Heroic Age, where basically everyone became an Avenger.
8 Spider-Verse Reminded Readers How Great Marvel’s Multiverse Could Be
Marvel has had a multiverse since the 1970s, with it debuting in Avengers #85, but it wouldn’t be until the X-Men made dystopian futures cool with Days of Future Past that Marvel would truly start exploring it. What If… launched and fans got their monthly dose of the Marvel Multiverse for years to come. Down the line, stories like The Age of Apocalypse, Ruins, The Last Avengers Story, the MC2 line, and more would have their successes, fleshing out Marvel’s Multiverse.
Exiles was the last gasp of the Marvel Multiverse for a while. House of M took readers to an alternate universe, but that had mixed results. Marvel would bring back What If… for limited engagements, mostly focusing on event stories, but the books never reached the heights it once did. The X-Men went back to the Multiverse well with Age of X, but overall Marvel’s Multiverse was mostly abandoned. However, Spider-Verse changed all of that. The story made readers remember how cool Marvel’s Multiverse could be when creators were allowed to go crazy in it, leading to sequels and the Marvel Multiverse being exported to the MCU, which may as well be called the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse by now.
7 The Return Of Norman Osborn Eventually Led To The Dark Reign
Green Goblin is a legendary villain, and his death in the classic story “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” was a big deal. It was rare for villains of his stature – Green Goblin was basically Spider-Man’s arch-enemy – to get killed off and he stayed dead for decades, replaced by for a short time by his son Harry, who also died as Green Goblin. The end of the Clone Saga would bring Norman Osborn back, which was one of the few bright spots of that story.
Green Goblin would keep fighting Spider-Man in the years to come. Civil War rolled around and Norman Osborn joined forces with Iron Man, leading a covert war against the Atlanteans. Osborn was rewarded with leadership of the Thunderbolts. Osborn and the Thunderbolts were the main line of defense against the Skrull invaders while the Avengers were trapped in the Savage Land. During the final battle, Norman Osborn got the kill shot against the Skrull Queen Veranke. This led to him getting a promotion to the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. He took over the Avengers and instituted the Dark Reign, becoming Marvel’s biggest villain for almost two years.
6 Miles Morales Became A Leader Of A New Generation Of Teen Heroes
Replacing Peter Parker as Spider-Man when he was slain in the Ultimate Universe, Miles Morales’ stint as the Wall-Crawler was the sole bright spot of the last years of Marvel’s Ultimate line. This popularity would see Miles survive the end of the 1610 universe and come over to the 616 universe, helming his own book, Miles Morales’s Spider-Man quickly became a member of the Avengers and helped to found a new Champions team.
Miles Morales’ Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel became the leaders of an entirely new generation of teen heroes. Miles is a massive star in his own right, starring in his own video game and the massively successful Spider-Verse movies. Miles is a superstar, and his multimedia presence rivals that of Peter Parker.
5 Superior Spider-Man Was The Most Unique Replacement Hero Ever
Doctor Octopus first appeared way back in The Amazing Spider-Man #3, and soon became one of Spider-Man’s most important villains. Doctor Octopus founded the Sinister Six, his popularity and importance rivaling that of Green Goblin. Long time Spider-Man writer Dan Slott did his level best to remind people how important to the Spider-Man mythos Doctor Octopus was and had Ock do something that few Spider-Man villains had done before – kill Spider-Man.
Doc Ock replaced Peter Parker in his own body, but Parker had a parting gift for Ock – his memories. Ock decided to become a hero and the Superior Spider-Man was born. Doctor Octopus’s successes as Superior Spider-Man far outstripped anything he had done as a villain. Marvel was going all in on replacing heroes with others at this point, so having an arch-villain become Spider-Man was a huge step forward. It would lead to more major league redemption in the future.
4 Gwen Stacy’s Death Showed No One Was Safe
Gwen Stacy was Spider-Man’s first love. While their relationship was nowhere near the perfect affair it’s portrayed as by Marvel editors and creators who look at it through rose-colored glasses, it’s impossible to deny how important it is to Spider-Man’s history, especially the ending. Gwen Stacy’s death ravaged Spider-Man, and was among the first times a major supporting character was killed.
Gwen Stacy’s death showed that no one was safe no matter how important they were to a character. It was the first major fridging in a lot of ways and Marvel would spend years repeating it, killing long time love interests and major supporting characters across its line. It was a massive change to the ways comics worked.
3 Spider-Man’s First Appearance Changed Marvel Heroes Forever
Before Amazing Fantasy #15 introduced Spider-Man, Marvel heroes had a lot in common. The men were usually all accomplished in their respective fields, with Human Torch being the only outlier on that count, and the women were all girlfriends brought into heroics by the men in their lives. Spider-Man, on the hand, was none of those things. Peter Parker was a nerdy kid from Queens. People made fun of him, he never had any money, and girls didn’t like him.
Many laud Stan Lee for creating relatable heroes, but the vast majority of Lee creations were in no way relatable up until Spider-Man. Spider-Man gave Lee, and Marvel by extension, the reputation that Marvel heroes were more down to Earth and relatable than those of their distinguished competition. Spider-Man changed the way everyone looked at Marvel and their superheroes.
2 The Clone Saga Played A Role In The Mid-90s Fall Of Marvel
The Clone Saga was very controversial, despite starting out well enough. The ’90s started out as a great decade for Spider-Man, as the debut of Venom, the launch of Spider-Man, and Maximum Carnage engaged fans. Marvel wanted to keep the momentum going, so they decided to bring back the Spider-Clone from The Amazing Spider-Man #149. Thus the Clone Saga was born and at first fans were into it. However, Marvel never made plans on how to end it and when they saw the initial sales success, they stretched it out indefinitely.
Fans began to hate the Clone Saga, despite some stories like Spider-Man: The Lost Years finding success, and soon sales started to fall. This was compounded when they revealed that Ben Reilly was actually the real Spider-Man. Many fans stopped buying Spider-Man titles, which coincided with the comic collector bubble bursting. Spider-Man books used to be a guaranteed seller, but the Clone Saga’s failure hurt Marvel when they couldn’t afford it.
1 One More Day Showed Readers How Much Disdain Marvel Editorial Had For Them
One More Day is an infamous story, and it changed the relationship between Marvel and fans forever. The marriage between Peter Parker and Mary Jane was popular with fans, but not so much with Marvel editorial and creators. For years, Marvel kept the marriage around because fans liked it, but former Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada wasn’t one to care about what fans actually wanted. Quesada invented the outrage sells comics formula, and so One More Day was planned and brought into existence.
One More Day got rid of Spider-Man’s marriage by him making a deal with Mephisto, trading the marriage for the life of Aunt May. The entire story was basically Spider-Man doing everything he could to now take responsibility for revealing his identity to the public and getting Aunt May shot. The whole situation was extremely out of character, made all the more ironic because Quesada and company were trying to bring back what they considered the integral Spider-Man. It also taught readers how little the Quesada regime cared about their opinions, This would become a hallmark in the years since, as Quesada’s handpicked editors remained in power after his departure, doubling down on Quesada’s outrage sells comics formula.
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