I love origin stories!
Let me back up and explain myself. I don't necessarily “love” how f*cked up origin stories can be (re: the dead parent trope) but I do love the work that people put into good origin stories, however tragic they may be.
And speaking of tragic, you ever noticed how sh*tty Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker's backstories are? Granted, Bruce arguably had a bit more cushion than Peter in that the man was filthy rich from a small age, but as we are all continuing to learn, money can only do so much when you are trying to reconcile your trauma. Even as an adult.
That said, my harping on their back-stories was prompted when I revisited a video editing project I did two years ago (which I will be posting at the end). While viewing the project for a fifth time, I got to thinking about the similarities and differences within Peter and Bruce's back-stories and what they essentially meant. To explain, considering that the two ended up in the same “occupation”, it is quite interesting how they did in fact find different ways to go about doing so.
I covered some of this a bit in my “gritty movement” piece a year ago, and I felt it appropriate to dig a couple of the quotes up and paraphrase myself as I was writing this piece. But before I bring them up, let's compare and contrast Peter generally before getting to the nitty-gritty:
So, we have both of these people who lose their parents (more specifically a father figure for Peter, but I digress) in a very tragic way. Bruce loses his to a small time drug addict while Peter loses his to a petty thief. And while they're on opposite sides of the income bracket, they both lose these guardians at critical stages in their life (Bruce as a pre-teen and Peter right in the MIDDLE of his teens)
See? Similar origins. But the paths chosen and symbols that are eventually invoked are wildly different.
Which is where I'll paraphrase myself:
Despite going through similar events, Bruce becomes Batman, the symbol of vengeance. Conversely, Peter becomes Spider-Man, the symbol of hope.
Bruce's arrival at becoming an avatar for vengeance (justice depending on who you're asking) has always fascinated me. I have no doubts that he blames himself for causing the death of his parents, (even though he was a small child at the time), even though he could not have possibly known what would happen when they left that opera/symphony. I mean, he could have easily chalked this up to tragic circumstance and dealt with it that way, but that's not what happened. He takes this tragedy seriously. He lives with this guilt constantly.
And because of this constant guilt that he feels—no matter how old he may get—he has deemed it necessary to become this symbol of fear in order to prevent what happened from happening again. Whether or not he will eventually succeed at that or whether his methods are effective is up for debate (and happens to be a topic for another day).
As for Peter, I found his eventual segue into superhero-ing quite interesting too. Unlike Bruce, I would argue that Peter definitely held a bit more responsibility in what happened with Uncle Ben (GG Uncle Ben. I hope I don't have to see you die again). As it is said, every action has a reaction and inaction—too—carries its own consequences. In fact, some may argue that inaction carries more consequences than the opposite and I would tend to agree. So that guilt he feels? The sh*t that is probably constantly at the back of his mind? Yeah, there's credence to it.
Still, you would think that having been involved in a loved one's death like that would make you cynical, pessimistic, or even misanthropic. Hell, I'm basically listing traits of Batman. Like, Peter was *thisclose* to being Batman.
And yet, things didn't turn out that way. Despite that constant, gnawing guilt, Peter morphs into Spider-Man “who is a very positive, albeit wise-cracking hero”. It seems to me that his trip to bleakness, to rock bottom, made it so that he did not want anyone else to have to go through that again. So what did he do? He became the embodiment hope.
And so, that brief character study aside, I would like to show the video project in question that prompted this whole discussion. Watch it here and let me know what you think.