Part of the charm of Spider-Man is that, unlike many other heroes, things don’t always work out in his favor. His life as Peter Parker is a mess, and he’s constantly dealing with real world issues like money problems, sick relatives and/or bullies. As a superhero, things aren’t much easier. Despite being a costumed hero in a city full of costumed heroes, Spider-Man is singled out by J Jonah Jameson as the target of bad press. On top of all that, he has to deal with some of the most fearsome super villains in the world plotting against him.
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All of these factors have led to Spider-Man suffering some pretty embarrassing moments. Often times, because of distractions in his personal life, a villain has been able to get the upper hand on Spidey. While this has sometimes led to serious tragedy, it most often ends up with Spidey getting a proverbial pie to the face. Unlike a lot of other heroes, he doesn’t have the press on his side, and isn’t a feared urban legend that people are afraid of. He’s the friendly neighborhood wall crawler, and that means that people are perfectly comfortable laughing at him when he gets knocked down… which he does… a lot. Take these 15 humiliating cases in point!
15. DAREDEVIL IN A FAT SUIT
When a gang war breaks out in New York City, Spider-Man found himself more and more on edge. He spots the Kingpin’s car traveling through the city, signaling his return. When Spidey tries to attack the mobster in Amazing Spider-Man #287 (1987) by Jim Owsley and Erik Larsen, he’s shocked to find out that it’s really Daredevil wearing a Kingpin costume, complete with fat suit and bald mask.
Worst of all, while Daredevil is wearing the gigantic costume, he’s able to get the upper hand on Spidey by using a gas that knocks out his spider-sense. Daredevil then strips down to his regular costume, and the fight ends when a sniper tries to take a shot at Spidey. It’s revealed that Daredevil was only mimicking the Kingpin because he wants to make sure that if Fisk goes down, it’s legally. It’s also revealed that Daredevil’s skills aren’t inhibited by a fat suit.
14. GETTING TRICKED BY DEADPOOL AND THE HYPNO HUSTLER
There are few villains less threatening than Hypno-Hustler. First appearing in The Spectacular Spider-Man #24 (1978) by Bill Mantlo and Frank Springer, Hypno-Hustler has the ability to brainwash people through music. Also, he apparently has updated his musical tastes since the mid ’70s. Spider-Man is an A-list hero, so he should have no problems dealing with a D-list villain like the Hustler.
So, that’s what makes the events of Avenging Spider-Man #12 (2012) by Kevin Shinick and Aaron Kuder so sad. Hypno teams up with Deadpool, and tricks the hero into helping break Hustler out of prison. They convince Spidey that he’s stuck in a dream, when in reality, he’s beating up prison guards. The plan works, too, and it’s only when Deadpool switches sides that Hypno is defeated.
13. PUNISHER USES HIM AS A SHIELD
Spider-man and Frank Castle have never seen eye to eye. They’ve teamed up plenty of times, but Spidey just can’t get behind the Punisher’s views on killing. Still, they’re both technically good guys, and Spidey has fought by Castle’s side plenty of times and should have earned his respect by this point. Based on the events of The Punisher #2 (2001) by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, Castle clearly doesn’t hold Spidey in high regard at all.
After Spidey catches Castle after the Russian throws him off a rooftop, the two team up to take down the gigantic villain. Spidey gets knocked out, so Castle responds by picking up the hero’s unconscious body and using it as a shield. While the Russian beats the hero, Castle figures out a way to beat the man, noting that Spidey can “take it.”
12. VENOM FIGHTS DIRTY
During his earliest appearances, Venom was one of Spider-Man’s scariest foes. When Eddie Brock bonded with the symbiote, he was granted powers that made him stronger and faster than Spidey, while also being able to avoid triggering his spider-sense. So, while Venom would often overpower Spidey during those early days, it was usually pretty understandable.
One of their fights, however, ended pretty gross for Spidey. In Amazing Spider-Man #316 (1989) by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane, the two fought in a meat packing plant. During the battle, Venom knocked a vat of blood onto the hero. Obviously, this would disgust anybody, but it really freaked Spidey out and he completely bailed on the fight. To make matters worse, he left behind some personal belongings that had his current address on them for Venom to find.
11. SLEEPING THROUGH THE AGE OF ULTRON
The opening scenes of Age of Ultron #1 (2013) by Brian Bendis and Bryan Hitch, depict New York City in ruins. Hawkeye runs a mission against the Owl and Hammerhead, who are revealed to be holding Spider-Man hostage. After Clint rescues Spidey, it’s revealed that Ultron attacked the city and is seemingly in the process of conquering the entire planet. While all of this was happening, however, Spider-Man was taking a nap, which is what ultimately led to him being caught by the two villains.
Technically speaking, this was set during the time period Otto Octavius was in control of Spidey’s body. The series was written, however, before the events of Amazing Spider-Man #700, and Spider-Man is written in this series as if he’s still Peter Parker, despite being Dr Octopus, so the embarrassment still feels like Pete’s.
10. SWITCHING PLACES WITH THE HUMAN TORCH
Not all victories occur in battle. Spider-Man and the Human Torch may have become great friends over the years, but they started off as rivals. Spider-Man / Human Torch #2 (2005) explores one of the pair’s early competitions. After getting into an argument over who is better, they decide to switch jobs for the day. Spidey goes to help the Fantastic Four explore an alternate dimension while Johnny heads off to take down Kraven the Hunter.
Of course, Spidey screws up the Fantastic Four mission, and ends up covering the Fantasticar with his webs, preventing Mr Fantastic from taking any readings. Meanwhile, Johnny easily defeats Kraven, because “human flame powers” can easily counter jungle potions and hunting skills. The worst part is that Spidey is very knowledgeable with science, so he should’ve nailed helping Mr Fantastic with his experiments.
9. THE NAKED NEW AVENGER
Spider-Man didn’t officially join the Avengers until New Avengers #3 (2005) by Brian Bendis and David Finch (technically, he had only been a trainee or reserve member before this). On his first mission as part of the team, the Avengers traveled to the Savage Land chasing after Karl Lykos, aka Sauron. After getting attacked by a group of mutates, the team is knocked out and taken captive.
They all wake up, completely naked. It would be embarrassing enough to be seen naked on his first day on the job, but Spidey takes things a bit further when he reveals that he normally doesn’t wear underwear under his costume. He explains that he has a problem with chafing, but that doesn’t alleviate any of the embarrassment.
8. AUNT MAY KNOCKS HIM DOWN
Since her death in Amazing Spider-Man #400 (1995) was so well written, and considered one of the finest send offs to any comic book ever, fans weren’t happy when Aunt May returned to the land of the living in Peter Parker Spider-Man #97 (1998) by Howard Mackie and John Romita Jr. While the revelation that the “Aunt May” who died was actually an actress didn’t sit well, the actual reveal wasn’t Spider-Man’s best showing either.
While sneaking into Norman Osborn’s compound, looking for baby May Parker, Spidey is caught off guard and smashed in the back of the head by a vase. He looks up from the floor to see his elderly aunt standing there, terrified. That’s right, in a story that undid one of the most poignant Spider-Man stories ever, the hero is caught off guard and knocked down by a scared, old woman.
7. UNMASKED BY DOC OCK
Even heroes get sick from time to time. Unfortunately, villains don’t really care about a hero needing a sick day. This was the case when Doctor Octopus kidnapped Betty Brant in Amazing Spider-Man #12 (1964) by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Peter Parker was coming down with a cold, which had somehow deactivated his spider-powers, but he still couldn’t sit by and do nothing.
He confronted Doc Ock as Spidey, but without his powers, he was quickly defeated and unmasked in front of Betty, J Jonah Jameson and the police. Luckily, due to his poor performance, they all believed that Peter had simply decided to dress up as Spidey when the real one failed to show up and save Betty. Ultimately, it wasn’t Doc Ock that defeated Spider-Man, it was just a 24-hour virus.
6. ULTIMATE SHOCKER
While the original 616 version of the Shocker may not have Spidey’s most fearsome foe, he’s still a legitimate villain. The Ultimate Universe version, however, was a complete joke. Every time he showed up, Spider-Man was able to stop him with an embarrassingly high amount of ease. The interactions between the hero and the pathetic villain became a running gag throughout the series.
Things changed in Ultimate Spider-Man #122 (2008) by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen, when Spidey got cocky while webbing up the Shocker. This led to him getting knocked out and kidnapped by his most pathetic villain. Even worse, while kidnapped, Spidey learns that Shocker actually has a fairly tragic backstory involving the Roxxon corporation, meaning that all this time, he was making fun of a guy who was just down on his luck.
5. UNMASKED BY ULTIMATE KINGPIN
Early in his career, the Ultimate version of Spider-Man learned of the existence of the Kingpin, and his investigation led him to Fisk Tower. He snuck into the offices on the same night that a gala was being held in the same building. Spidey was caught almost immediately after sneaking in, leading to a confrontation in Ultimate Spider-Man #10 (2001) by Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley.
After getting zapped by Electro (who was working for Fisk), the Kingpin stole Spider-Man’s mask off his unconscious body and had him thrown out the window. Luckily, Peter woke up in time to grab the nearest surface and stop his fall. Unfortunately, this was a window, and on the other side was a room full of party goers. All Peter could do was slowly slide down the glass, maskless, until he disappeared from sight.
4. STUNG BY MILES MORALES
Miles Morales is a great character, but he’s still fairly new at being a hero. When Peter Parker encountered the Ultimate Spider-Man in Spider-Men (2012) by Brian Bendis and Sara Pichelli, he had years of experience on his side. Since the team up followed the traditional rules of comic books, the two heroes fought each other when they first met. Miles is able to knock out Peter by using his venom sting, which incapacitates Peter.
Peter doesn’t have a venom sting, so it’s understandable that he’d be taken by surprise. Also, Miles has taken down some pretty big bad guys with his sting. Still, Peter’s been doing the Spider-Man thing for so long, and getting taken out by a newbie is never a good thing.
3. THANOS ROCKS
Based on the classic storyline, Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet (2010) by Brian Clevinger, Lee Black and Brian Churilla retold the story in a simplified way and was aimed at younger audiences. For Spider-Man, this meant that he was depicted as the comic relief. For example, when the heroes finally confront Thanos, Spider-Man is taken down by the mad titan by getting a rock dropped on him.
When Spidey stands before Thanos, the villain stands there and waits for a moment, staring at the hero. Then, a rock appears over Spidey’s head and knocks him out. Granted, Thanos is armed with the Infinity Gauntlet at the time, but the fact that he takes out Spidey while just standing still isn’t a good showing for the webhead.
2. LUKE CAGE AND JESSICA JONES (PLUS SHE-HULK)
During the events of Infinity, a new team of Mighty Avengers was formed. Luke Cage led the group and was focused on nonprofit work. This was during the Superior Spider-Man time period, when Spidey (actually Doc Ock’s brain in Spidey’s body) had an army of spider-soldiers working for him, and he decided that the Mighty Avengers were in his way and tried to force them into his army.
He confronted Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, and in Mighty Avengers #5 (2014) by Al Ewing and Greg Land, he discovered that Luke Cage doesn’t like being told what to do. After subduing Cage and Jones, their lawyer, She-Hulk, showed up and literally intimidated Spider-Man and his men to leave the scene. Even with an army at his back, Spidey still couldn’t stand up to She-Hulk.
1. HIDING FROM SANDMAN
After finding out that his Aunt May had fallen ill, Spider-Man had run away from a public fight with the Green Goblin. This caused the public, led by J Jonah Jameson, to believe that Spider-Man was a coward. In Amazing Spider-Man #18 (1964) by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man was trying to find a way to make money without putting himself in danger, so that he wouldn’t risk getting hurt and leaving Aunt May to fend for herself.
So, when he ran into Sandman, he had no interest in fighting the villain and ran away. Unfortunately, this was in full view of the public, leading to more calls of Spidey being a coward. Even worse, in order to get away, Peter had to hide in some garbage. While his intentions were noble, it still wasn’t a proud moment.
Based on the trailers, it seems like Peter’s gonna have some pretty rough moments in Spider-Man:Homecoming, due out in theaters. What’s your favorite Spidey humiliation?