Spider-Man 101: The Tangled Web Of His Loves, Powers And More

The Amazing Spider-Man is just the latest in a long series of variations — some big, some small — on the character. This (amazing) chart breaks it down.

Illustrations by John Gara and Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man reboots the 2002-2007 Spider-Man trilogy directed by Sam Raimi and replaces Tobey Maguire in the title role with The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield. But lead-actor face-shape is not the only change that will stand out to audiences familiar with the original films.

“Gwen Stacy instead of Mary Jane Watson – that’s the big one,” says Dan Slott, current writer of Marvel’s main Amazing Spider-Man comic book series, referring to Emma Stone’s character who displaces Kirsten Dunst’s as Peter Parker’s love interest. Other big changes include the identity of Peter Parker’s parents, the absence of the Osborns and blowhard Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson and the new film’s return to the comics’ original mechanical rather than organic web-shooters (this has long been a topic of hot debate for Spider-Man fans).

There have been countless versions of the Spider-Man story since the character was introduced in 1962. Even among what can be considered the mainstream portrayals of Spider-Man, variations on the character’s age, origin story details, romances, family history, powers and more are as standard as his mantra that with great power comes great responsibility. While sticklers may consider the “real” Spider-Man to be that of the primary Marvel Comics universe, otherwise known as Spider-Man of Earth-616, even he can’t count on anything — just five years ago, a deal with the devil erased his long-time marriage to Mary Jane from ever having existed. The Ultimate Spider-Man universe, an alternate storyline created by Brian Michael Bendis in 2000 that puts Peter Parker back in high school and streamlines his origin and relationships, has actually moved front and center in the zeitgeist as an inspiration for the Raimi films, recent cartoon series and the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark Broadway musical.

**NOTE: The above is a selection of mainstream Spider-Man adaptations that represent a range of variations to important elements, but we know there are many others. Special thank you to Dan Slott for sharing his massive Spidey knowledge.**

Evie Nagy has been an editor and writer at Rolling Stone, Billboard and other publications, and co-hosts the Awesomed By Comics podcast.

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