The Best Spider-Man Director Ripped Off Superman Every Step Of The Way

By Michileen Martin | Published

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Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy steals from the first three Superman films starring Christopher Reeve. It’s an almost certainly intentional move on Raimi’s part and I’m not criticizing him with my claim. Ever since his initial appearance, Peter Parker and his alter-ego have been more human parodies of the Man of Steel, so conceiving Spidey’s films in a similar way makes sense.

Spider-Man (2002) And Superman (1978)

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In both 2002’s Spider-Man and 1978’s Superman, we get the origin stories of the respective superheroes. While the fact that both have dead parents at the beginning of their do-gooder careers isn’t particularly significant–it’s pretty common in superhero lore–the similar circumstances are notable.

Both Spider-Man and Superman have dead biological parents, are taken in by new couples, and in both films the heroes lose their adoptive fathers as part of their origin (which is particularly interesting in Superman since, unlike in Parker’s case, this is not a part of his source material origin story).

Spider-Man 2 (2004) And Superman II (1980)

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While it might be tempting to look at the similarities between Spider-Man and Superman as just superhero writers being lazy, things start getting pretty blatant with the first sequels in both franchises.

In both 2004’s Spider-Man 2 and 1980’s Superman II, the heroes lose powers. It’s Spidey’s “existential crisis” (or so he calls it in Spider-Man: No Way Home) that stops his webshooters from working, while in Kal-el’s case he intentionally gives up his abilities so he can have a normal life with Lois Lane–proving so weak he can’t even take the hits from a common bully in a diner.

Like Superman, Spider-Man temporarily gives up being a hero. Both regain their powers and their heroic roles for the same reason–to save the women they love.

Both movies see the romantic interests of the heroes discovering their real identities, though in Spider-Man’s case it’s unintentional. Spider-Man also chooses not to go the Superman route and somehow kiss the memory of his secret identity away from Mary Jane.

Spider-Man 3 (2007) And Superman III (1983)

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Well, there’s the obvious–both 2007’s Spider-Man 3 and 1983’s Superman III are exceptionally bad.

Both movies also give us sequences in which we meet much darker versions of the eponymous heroes.

Neither Spider-Man nor Superman go bad because of natural character evolution, but because of the influence of an outside source. Peter Parker is poisoned by the Venom alien symbiote, while Supes is literally split between his good and bad selves by synthetic Kryptonite.

We get to see a mean Superman flick shot glasses around a bar, and we also witness the embarrassing antics of My Chemical Spider-Man that continue to spawn memes to this day.

Spider-Man Is A Parody Of Superman

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That Sam Raimi made his Spider-Man trilogy with the Superman films in mind shouldn’t be too surprising considering Spidey is, in many ways, an intentional parody of Supes, and he has been since the very beginning.

They both have parents who died when they were infants, and both were raised by adoptive parents. Both Spider-Man and Superman turn to big city newspapers for work, and the names of both are even similar–the Daily Bugle and the Daily Planet.

Both find romance at work–while Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy are much more well known at this point, before either had appeared in the comics, Peter dated Betty Brant (played by Elizabeth Banks in Raimi’s films).

But Spider-Man was never as powerful as Superman, never as successful in impressing J. Jonah Jameson as Kent was in earning Perry White’s respect, and never as good at being a superhero.

In other words, Spider-Man was made a parody of Superman specifically to be the kind of flawed and more relatable hero that Marvel Comics found so much success with in the 1960s. Put another way, even when he put his mask on, Peter Parker was still Peter Parker, but Clark Kent was just Superman waiting to fly.

Thankfully There Was No Spider-Man 4

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There were plans for a Spider-Man 4, but considering everything, it’s good it never happened. If Spider-Man 4 followed the pattern and lifted from Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, the film would be about the Mayor of New York City empowering Spidey to steal and melt down every firearm in the city.

His enemy would be a blond with big hair and long nails. He would be created from a combination of gun metal and DNA culled from Peter Parker’s nosehair.

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