Ultimate Spider-Man: the Parent Trap — review

Screenplay by Man of Action and Kaita Mpambara.

Of course, the word “parent” regarding Spider-Man immediately conjures the image of dead ones. Peter Parker maybe the second most famous superhero orphan, after Bruce Wayne, though there are others. In fact, dead parents are so common amongst superheroes that it was even included in The Hero Movie.

Which is a big problem with superheroes today. There’s often the one bad thing that happens to push them into heroism, but they remain there in order to compensate for that loss. Even Parker didn’t care about others until his uncle died, and it took having his parents shot in front of him to make Wayne want to be a crimefighter. All of them are living up to a sense of guilt, disappointment or failure that would otherwise make them not the heroes they are. It’s almost as if they’re fundamentally apathetic people but are trying to give something back after society made its own point on them.

Parker’s parents are dead. But that’s not that important in the grand scheme of things. When Luke Cage discovers his apparently dead parents in Zodiac Volcanic Base, Parker asks him if they’re his actual parents, leading to a very deep moment as he explains, in more of a nutshell than this analysis, that Uncle Ben and Aunt may are his ipso facto parents. Basically, blood doesn’t matter that much. Which is true. The same can be said for Alfred Pennyworth being Wayne’s true Father in practice. But that’s just an idea expressed on the way to something much more important – that they actually are his parents. We then get a recap of Cage’s origin story, and the gaps in it can be filled to draw the conclusion that these people really are his parents. As a hero, he’s come full circle. Which is important because he was recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. after their “death”, having been given the super soldier serum as a means to preserve it from enemy acquisition. This is another case of powers being linked to the death of one’s parents, as the The Amazing Spider-Man series has not-so-subtly exaggerated. Only this time, his powers are what lead to the rescue of his parents years later, putting all the aspects of his character into a coherent narrative that’s filled its own gaps by means of progression.

But – and this is really the thing to take away from this – he doesn’t just surrender his powers. Because the events of the episode aren’t just him getting closure as a person, but is also an important development for S.H.I.E.L.D. and the super soldier serum. They’ve prevented that from falling into enemy hands. On the way to recovering his parents, Cage has learned, through his adventures, that they’re not the only reason to be a hero. The world’s still more dangerous outside of their safety, and the fight must go on – it’s one they merely started. And he carries on.

Perhaps heroes should be heroic less so for personal closure, but for heroic’s sake.

Ultimate Spider-Man: the Parent Trap — superhero genre commentary, important statement 8/10.

And now, a new format on Thursdays, showcasing the releases

Opening this weekend

at the United States domestic box office:

Kelly Marcel‘s Fifty Shades of Grey

Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn‘s Kingsman: the Secret Service:

David Cross‘ Hits

Richard LaGravenese‘s The Last Five Years

Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement‘s What we do in the Shadows


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