Let’s be frank, Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, is one of the most noble guys in comics. However, just because he is a noble hero does not mean that heroic behavior comes easy to him. In fact, the key to what makes him such a great hero is that it does not come easy to him. After all, this is a guy who famously repeats the phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility.” He doesn’t do this for the heck of it, he does it because he needs to remind himself of that fact. He’s the guy who will end up doing the right things, but he will often make the same instinctive choice that most people make, which is to do the selfish thing. What makes him a great hero is that he has that instinct and he manages to rise above it.
With that in mind, there have been a number of instances in his history where his worst instincts have been a bit stronger, his resolve a bit weaker, and the end result is some poor behavior. Most of the time, even when he does something bad, he quickly catches himself and stops from continuing the behavior, but it still happened. Here, then, are the 15 worst things Spider-Man has ever done.
15. BLACKMAILING MS. MARVEL FOR A DATE
Following the events of “One More Day,” Spider-Man was a single man once again. While in the past, Spider-Man had never been involved with a fellow superhero (Black Cat would be the closest you would come to him being with another super-person), but now he pursued a relationship with his New Avengers teammate, Carol Danvers (back when she was Ms. Marvel and not yet Captain). That is totally fine, of course, but how he went about it was kind of creepy.
In “Ms. Marvel” #34 (by Brian Reed, Paulo Siqueira, Adriana Melo, Amilton Santos and Mariah Benes), Carol has lost her powers and was on the run from Norman Osborn, who had taken over control of S.H.I.E.L.D. and re-named it H.A.M.M.E.R. Carol needed Spider-Man’s help. He agreed, but oddly enough said that he would only help her if she would go out on a date with him. Obviously, the intent of the scene was cute banter, but it’s still a guy blackmailing a woman into dating him. Their date in “Ms. Marvel” #47 was handled well by Reed, but it was still a weird thing for Spider-Man to do.
14. HAVING AN AFFAIR WITH A MARRIED WOMAN
In late 1978, Spider-Man was going through a difficult period in his life (okay, obviously you could pick a year at random and that statement might still be true, but bear with us). Mary Jane Watson had just turned down his marriage proposal, sending him into a bit of a spiral. Meanwhile, his first girlfriend, Betty Brant, was having trouble with her husband, Ned Leeds, and she eventually just up and left him while he was stationed in Paris to return to New York.
She began to re-kindle a relationship with the down-on-his-dumps Peter and in “Amazing Spider-Man” #190 (by Marv Wolfman, John Byrne and Jim Mooney), the two kissed and perhaps more than that, as the scene went from them kissing to the next panel being “several hours later.” Whether Peter and Betty actually slept with each other was intentionally left to the reader to decide (Wolfman told us he left it intentionally vague), but Tom Brevoort once made a convincing argument that if Peter actually had slept with her, he would never let us hear the end of it in his internal monologues. Either way, it was still an affair, of sorts, with a married woman.
13. BEAT UP DAREDEVIL
In “The Death of Jean DeWolff,” Spider-Man was already feeling terrible that Captain Jean, one of the few cops who was nice to him, was murdered by the serial killer known as the Sin-Eater. That terrible feeling was compounded when Spidey discovered that DeWolff had actually harbored a major crush on him for some time that she never got around to expressing to him. So when the Sin-Eater then almost murdered Spider-Man’s first girlfriend, Betty Brant? That was too much for him.
He began attacking the Sin-Eater, seemingly ready to beat him to death. Daredevil, who had been working with Spider-Man to take down the Sin-Eater, tried to stop the web-crawler, but Spider-Man responded by punching Daredevil out of a window and continued to attempt to pummel his fellow hero. Luckily for Daredevil, Spider-Man was so enraged that the blind hero was able to evade the punches, as if one of those punches connected, it could have been devastating. Spider-Man eventually came to his senses, but it was a disturbing attack by Spidey.
12. HIDING HIS RETURN TO BEING SPIDER-MAN FROM MARY JANE
There might be something to be said that it isn’t cool to constantly lie to your friends and family about your true identity, like Peter Parker has done for years, but we’re willing to give him a pass on that, as really, we get the idea that a lot of people don’t like Spider-Man, from supervillains to J. Jonah Jameson. If we had an aunt who was constantly talking about how dreadful Spider-Man was, we’d feel weird about telling her that we were Spider-Man, as well.
However, once you get married, you have to tell your wife. We know that Barry Allen didn’t when he married Iris West (she found out because he talked in his sleep), but that’s a rarity. Normally, if you marry someone, you tell them your secret identity. With Peter and Mary Jane, however, it was even worse, because Mary Jane knew Peter’s secret identity, but after he quit being Spider-Man for a while, he lied to her about returning to the gig. Not just “not telling her,” but out and out lying to her face. It was a bad showing by Peter.
11. LET THE BURGLAR GET BY HIM
This is perhaps the most famous screw-up in Spider-Man history. All the way back in “Amazing Fantasy” #15 (by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko), when Spider-Man first debuted, he was originally using his powers to become a TV celebrity. While working at a TV studio, he was on the way home when a guy ran by him, headed for the elevators. He was being chased by guards, who shouted at Spider-Man to stop the crook. Spider-Man did not and the guy got away.
Later on, that burglar ended up breaking into the Parker residence and murdering Peter’s beloved Uncle Ben, thus proving that with great power comes great responsibility, and that Peter would have to use his powers to help people. That’s a fine motto, but while it would have been better had Spider-Man gotten involved, we find it difficult to give him too much guff for doing what a whole lot of people would do in the same situation, not try to approach a guy who might be armed and dangerous for all he knew.
10. ALMOST LETS LITTLE GIRL DIE IN SURGERY
In “Amazing Spider-Man” #700, Doctor Octopus successfully switched minds with Spider-Man, trapping Peter within Otto Octavius’ dying body. At the end of the issue, “Octopus” dies and successfully takes control of Spider-Man’s body. However, being exposed to all of Peter Parker’s memories forced Octavius to become a superhero himself, choosing to become the superior Spider-Man. In the first issue of the “Superior Spider-Man” ongoing, though, it was revealed that a vestige of Peter remained inside of his body and he had some control over Octavius’ actions.
In “Superior Spider-Man” #8 (by Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba), Octavius (as Spider-Man) found a device that he could use to get rid of Peter in his brain. However, for him to gain access to the device, he had to first agree to perform a surgery on a little girl who had been injured in one of Octavius’ earlier villainous schemes. With the girl’s life on the line, Peter initially tried to keep Octavius from completing the surgery, as he knew that once the girl was saved, Octavius would kill Peter. Eventually, he relents and Octavius does appear to use the device to “kill” Peter again the next issue.
9. BACKING IRON MAN DURING CIVIL WAR
In 2006, the Marvel Universe was torn asunder by “Civil War,” where superheroes chose sides in a battle over the Superhuman Registration Act, where superheroes would have to register their identities with the government and also receive training in their superpowers. Of all of the superheroes in the world to not be cool with giving up his secret identity, you would think Spider-Man would be up there (since one of his villains knowing his identities led to his former girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, being murdered), but instead, Spider-Man sided with the Pro-Registration side because he had been working for Tony Stark and Stark was the main driver of the Pro side.
Peter not only sided with Iron Man, but both revealed his secret identity to the world and helped hunt down Captain America and the other heroes who did not want to register. Hunting down superheroes to throw them into gross inter-dimensional prisons where their rights were violated? Not a great decision by Spider-Man, and he inevitably switched sides midway through the storyline.
8. DEAL WITH THE DEVIL
Of course, since his identity was now public, he, Mary Jane and Aunt May had to go on the run from both the government (due to him now not being willing to register) and his many villains. One of those villains, the Kingpin, had an assassin take a shot at Peter. His Spider Sense caused him to react and move out of the way of the bullet, which then hit Aunt May instead, seemingly fatally wounding her.
As Aunt May lay dying in the hospital, Spider-Man tried to find someone to cure her. Eventually, the demon Mephisto showed up and offered to save Aunt May in exchange for Peter and Mary Jane giving up their marriage, as their love was so true that it had great power for Mephisto. Mary Jane believed that Peter would never be able to forgive himself if they didn’t do this, so she agreed and then convinced Peter to agree, as well. Right before the spell was cast, Mephisto showed them the daughter that they now will never have.
7. ALLOWS PUBLIC KIDNAPPING
In “Amazing Spider-Man” #112 (by Gerry Conway and John Romita), Spider-Man is freaking out because Aunt May has gone missing (she cut out after Gwen Stacy ripped her a new one for being way too involved in her nephew’s life). He had spent the last issue searching for her and now he was desperate. So desperate, in fact, that in this issue he sees a man being mugged by two armed thugs and just keeps on moving.
He then sees a man getting kidnapped, a man who even sees Spider-Man and pleads for him to help, and decides that he can’t spare the time to save him because he can’t distract himself from finding May. Later on, he does decide to investigate the kidnapping, but only because he believes that perhaps the same people kidnapped Aunt May. Just a real jerk move by Spidey. Oh, and what happened to Aunt May, you ask? She had just taken a job as a live-in housekeeper. She was never kidnapped at all. Of course, she happened to be working for Otto Octavius, but hey, no job’s perfect!
6. STARTED TO ROB JEWELRY STORE
Spider-Man has done some weird things over the years, but few things can quite match his bizarre actions in “Amazing Spider-Man” #87 (by Stan Lee, Jim Mooney and John Romita). You see, Spider-Man had been suffering from a terrible illness that he determined must be the radioactivity in his blood slowly turning on him. He became delirious and also had difficulty using his powers (he figured that the radiation must be draining from his blood, which would therefore drain his powers, as well).
While he was freaking out about what this meant, he then remembered that his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, was having a birthday party that night and he hadn’t gotten her anything. So in a move that we don’t even know if being delusional fully explains, he breaks into a jewelry store and grabs a necklace for her. He then realizes what he’s doing is wrong and puts the stolen merchandise back. However, that he even stole it in the first place is truly strange.
5. KILLED CHARLEMAGNE
In the one-shot, “Spider-Man vs. Wolverine” #1 (by Jim Owsley, Mark Bright and Al Williamson), Peter gets way over his head when he ends up in divided Germany with Ned Leeds investigating a mysterious arms dealer named Charlemagne. As it turns out, Charlemagne was an old associate of Wolverine’s and she now has pretty much every agency from every government trying to kill her. Along the way, Ned is murdered and Peter is almost killed, as well, before Wolverine saves him.
They end up tracking “Charlie” to East Berlin, where Wolverine plans on killing her to spare her a torturous death from the KGB. Spider-Man won’t let Wolverine kill her, so the two heroes battle each other over what to do next. They’re interrupted by gunfire from a Soviet chopper. Charlemagne wants to die now, so she grabs Spider-Man in the lull of the fight and he instinctively turns and throws a full-powered punch (thinking she was Wolverine) and kills her. Obviously, that was her intent, but come on, when your hands are lethal weapons (and you literally havea sixth sense), you have to be more careful than that.
4. TRUCE WITH VENOM
In the early 1990s, Marvel was in a strange position with its “Spider-Man” titles. Sales were booming, but so too was the interest in Venom. Venom, though, was one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes. So what could they do with that? They decided to introduce a new symbiote, Carnage, who was much more villainous than Venom, forcing Spider-Man to team-up with Venom to stop the greater threat.
Then, in “Amazing Spider-Man” #375 (by David Michelinie, Mark Bagley and Randy Emberlin), after Venom kidnaps Spider-Man’s parents, Spider-Man shows up with Venom’s ex-wife. Spider-Man saves her life, so Venom agrees to a truce. He won’t come after Spider-Man if Spider-Man won’t come after him. Spidey agrees. This was done so that Venom could have his own series as a “hero” of sorts. It makes no sense that Peter’s sense of responsibility would allow a killer like Venom to just roam free. When Ben Reilly shows up later on, he can’t believe it either, so Ben tries to take down Venom. Spider-Man has shown some willingness to live in the grey in the past (like when he took a gig once protecting a mob boss), but this was too much.
3. FAKE NEWS!
Peter Parker is a good guy, but boy, he sure isn’t the most ethical journalist in the world. It’s one thing to sell photos of himself to the Daily Bugle, as he could at least legitimately claim that he was simply recording the actual news (it just happened to also include him, as well). That might not be much of a legal defense against someone for fraud if Spider-Man’s secret identity was revealed, but at least it could soothe his ethics.
However, in “Amazing Spider-Man” #4 (by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko), when he failed to take any photos of his successful defeat of Sandman, Peter just outright staged a fake battle! He just threw a bunch of sand in the air and punched it. Years later, Peter faked a photo to protect Major J. Jonah Jameson (who was accused of a crime Peter knew he did not commit) and got caught, therefore ruining his photojournalism career, but honestly, he probably deserved that.
2. AGREED TO WORK FOR THE JACKAL
The “Clone Saga” was certainly one of the lowest points in Spider-Man history, especially for what it did to the character of Peter Parker. Already, before the “Clone Saga” even began, Peter was acting oddly, trying to divorce himself from his humanity, calling himself “The Spider” and just all around acting like an unpleasant guy to be around. When he found out during the “Clone Saga” that he apparently was not the real Peter Parker, but a clone? He did not handle that well at all.
The Jackal, the architect of the “Clone Saga,” helped convince Peter that he belonged on Jackal’s side, working alongside his fellow clones. For whatever reason, Peter totally bought what the Jackal was selling and went along with it, even when it meant actively hurting his friend, Ben Reilly, the Scarlet Spider! He eventually came to his senses, but that he ever needed to figure out that it was a bad idea to join up with a supervillain was a really bad sign for him.
1. HE HIT MARY JANE
One of the things that helped Peter get over that whole “I am the Spider!” nonsense was the devotion of his wife, Mary Jane. She brought Peter back to his humanity and then surprised him with some awesome news. She was pregnant! That really helped snap him out of his funk, and he was doing better. When he discovered that he was the clone and that Ben Reilly was the “real” Peter Parker in “Spectacular Spider-Man” #226 (by Tom DeFalco, Sal Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz), he flipped the heck out.
He attacked Ben, claiming that Ben was trying to steal his life, that it was all somehow a lie. Of course, in the end, it did turn out to all be a lie and Ben was the actual clone, but that was discovered later on. While he was attacking Ben, his pregnant wife, Mary Jane, came over to break up the fight and Peter instinctively smacked her across the room. Likely due to the fact that this happened during such a hated storyline, people have just tried to forget that this moment ever happened, as that was just awful behavior by Peter.
What do you think is the worst thing that Spider-Man has done? Let us know in the comments section!