Since his creation in 1962 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in Amazing Fantasy #15, Spider-Man has been one of the most beloved superheroes in comic books. His comics have been bestsellers for decades, and he moved on to numerous TV shows, both animated and live-action, and began a hit series of movies in 2002 that continues with Avengers: Infinity War. Along the way, he's become well-known for his powers and in particular, his ability to swing from webs and stick to walls. Both of those abilities involve his hands in some way, which is why we want to talk about them today.
There's a lot going on with Spider-Man's hands, so let's shine the spotlight on them. We'll be talking about how Spider-Man's hands let him stick to walls and shoot webs, but also how Spider-Man's hands have even changed things in the real world. There have even been a few versions of Spider-Man from alternate realities who have used their hands in radically different and even lethal ways. CBR has found 20 interesting and weird things you might not have known about the Web-Slinger's wrists and hands.
20 HOW HE STICKS TO WALLS
Spider-Man has a great collection of powers that let him mimic his arachnid namesake, but one of his most famous is his ability to climb walls and stick to surfaces. In fact, it was one of the first powers he discovered when he jumped out of the way of a car and stuck to a wall. The big question, though, is exactly how his hands stick to walls in the first place. Back in the 1960s when he was created, scientists weren't really sure how spiders stuck to objects, so it was kept vague in the comics.
In fact, even Peter Parker didn't know how he stuck his hands to walls.
In the early versions of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, they said Spider-Man is able to "enhance the flux of inter-atomic attractive forces" on whatever his hands touched, which increased the amount of friction between his hands and feet, and walls. That explained things for a while. Later on, his enemy Electro figured out that his hands created a bioelectric field that let Spider-Man stick, so he was able to cancel it out with his electrical powers. Over time, even that changed as scientists came to understand how spiders stick to surfaces! Like the character, his powers are ever-evolving!
19 HAIRY PALMS
When you think of Spider-Man, most people think of him sticking to a wall like a spider. His fingertips are the key to that, although there are some odd things going on with them. If you saw the first movie in 2002, you might remember the scene where Peter Parker looks at his fingers and sees tiny barbs coming out of the tips. From then on, he could climb walls. What were those hairs and why were they there?
In real life, spiders stick to walls with dense clusters of microscopic hairs at the end of their legs known as "scopulae." The hairs stick to objects with something called Van der Waals force, which takes the minor force that makes any object slightly clingy and multiplies it to hold the spider onto objects. The implication was that Spider-Man had the same hairs on his fingers and they allowed him to stick to walls. Unfortunately, in the real world, scientists have found the force is too weak to hold up a full grown man. There's also the question of how the hairs worked through gloves and even shoes on his feet, but it's better than no explanation at all, so let's all agree to just go with it.
18 SPIDER-MAN 2099'S TALONS
In 1992, Marvel created a new line of comics intended to explore the future of the Marvel Universe. Called Marvel 2099, the line took several iconic characters and imagined them 100 years in the future where mega-corporations ruled (especially the company Alchemax) and cyberpunk elements replaced the mystical origins of classic heroes. One such character was Miguel O'Hara, better known as Spider-Man 2099.
Miguel's fingers and toes grew inch-long talons that let him dig into walls to climb.
In his series, Miguel was a genetic researcher who was given an addictive chemical to force him to keep working for the corrupt company Alchemax. When he tried to rewrite his genetic code to remove the addiction, the experiment was sabotaged, rewriting 50% of his code with spider DNA. Like the original Spider-Man, Miguel is able to climb walls, but not because of scopulae or bioelectric energy. Miguel's fingers and toes grew inch-long talons that let him dig into walls to climb. The talons were strong enough to tear through flesh, plastic and even metal, making them a weapon he could use in combat or just to remove his costume in emergencies. The downside was that he couldn't retract the talons completely, so he needed to hide them by wearing gloves even when he wasn't Spider-Man.
17 SPIDER-MAN INSPIRED KISS
If you mentioned the rock band KISS and Spider-Man, you probably wouldn't expect the two to have much in common, but (according to Gene Simmons) there is a connection. KISS formed in 1973 and became world famous for its on-stage performances with face paint, over-the-top outfits and pyrotechnics. One of the founding members was Gene Simmons who performed vocals and played bass. He has explained in many interviews that the characters they played were inspired by superheroes and comic books, so his love of comics runs deep. KISS has even appeared in multiple comic books, themselves.
One of KISS' signature moves became what came to be known as the "devil horns" sign, where members held up their thumb, index and pinky fingers. It turns out that Simmons claims he invented the hand gesture based on Spider-Man's own when he fired webbing, turned upwards instead of downwards. It is true that with the thumb extended, it does look like the "thwip" gesture. There has been some debate about whether Simmons actually invented the move. He inspired more controversy when he tried and failed to patent its use in 2017.
16 HIS FINGERS CAN'T BE PULLED OFF
When Spider-Man sticks to a wall or ceiling, he has to support over a hundred pounds of weight, which means the bond between his fingers and the surface he's sticking to has to be incredibly strong. In fact, it's stronger than you might think. When Spider-Man decides to stick to something, it literally becomes an unbreakable bond. Yet he doesn't just stick to walls and ceilings, because he can make his fingers stick to any object.
That power comes in handy and can be used for more than just wall crawling.
Sometimes he's used the power to hold onto villains to keep them from getting away, and he's also attached himself to things like missiles that are being launched. It's also saved his life on many occasions since, when he's falling, he can touch anything with even his fingertips to grab onto something and stop his fall. When he sticks to something, nothing can pull him off it, not even if he's stuck to something as thin as glass or solid as concrete. In fact, anyone with super strength like Colossus or the Hulk who's strong enough to move Spider-Man when he's attached to something has had to tear off pieces of concrete or tile or whatever surface the Web-Slinger is attached to off with it. He has literal sticky fingers.
15 THE MARK OF KAINE
Throughout his life, Spider-Man has had a hard time dealing with clones. That's because of a supervillain known as the Jackal, who's obsessed with cloning Spider-Man and trying to use the clones to get revenge for the death of Gwen Stacy. The Jackal actually succeeded in creating multiple clones of the Web-Slinger, including one known as Kaine Parker. First introduced in Web of Spider-Man #118 (created by Terry Kavanagh and Steven Butler), Kaine was the first clone created by Jackal but he was left disfigured and driven insane due to cellular degeneration. He tried to fight crime but was much more brutal than Peter Parker, because he used his fingers as a weapon.
By sticking his fingers onto someone's face and ripping them off, Kaine would tear the skin off and leave scars. Kaine could also burn things with his fingertips, as he used the power to burn off his long hair and beard. It's not clear if the Mark of Kaine was a corruption of Spider-Man's regular wall-crawling ability or some more corrosive ability created by the cloning process. It's possible that the regular Spider-Man could do the same thing except he's not that ruthless.
14 FEEL THE VIBRATIONS
Spider-Man's super-strength and Spider-Sense get a lot of attention, but the hero has powers that aren't as well known. For instance, spiders have great sensitivity, allowing them to feel even the slightest vibrations in their webs to know if something is caught in it, so they can swoop down and enjoy a meal. Spider-Man has heightened senses as well, and in "The Other" storyline (where he gained new powers by embracing the spider part of himself), his hands became just as sensitive if not more so.
In Amazing Spider-Man #528 (by someone and someone), Spider-Man discovered his hands were sensitive enough that he could feel vibrations in walls and in his webs.
He discovered how useful the power could be when he was trying to rescue people from a building. As he was about to leave, Spider-Man felt a vibration in his webbing, just like how a spider could feel vibrations from something caught in its web. When Spider-Man used the power of his newly sensitive hands, he discovered a little girl scraping a rock against the wall in another room, allowing him to save her. Over time, the power went away along with his other new powers, but it was fun while it lasted.
13 HOW HE SWINGS ON WEBS
Spider-Man wouldn't be Spider-Man if he didn't swing from webs. The sight of ol' Web-Head soaring over New York City, swinging from one web-line to another with the grace of a trapeze artist is one that defines him as a hero. However, there's very little mention of exactly how Spider-Man is able to do it. We know he has webbing to shoot from his wrists, but how does he make those quick connections, finding places to shoot and stick his webs that don't break off or come loose? How does Spider-Man target buildings at just the right height? Especially since he's swinging at high speed?
The answer lies in his Spider-Sense and in his powerful wrist muscles. Spider-Man uses his Spider-Sense to alert him of the danger of hitting and missing his targets, using it to aim properly, but he also has enhanced speed and dexterity from the spider-bite. The incredible reflexes in his hands and wrists let him target and fire his webs with pinpoint accuracy, no matter where he's going and no matter how fast. It's an intricate ballet that he does so effortlessly that it hardly seems like work at all.
12 ORGANIC WEB SHOOTERS
Spider-Man wouldn't be much of a spider if he didn't have webs, would he? Since his very first appearance, Spider-Man has had the ability to shoot webbing but it's been a more complicated route than his other spider-powers. Instead of a biological component where Spider-Man could shoot webs out of his... uh... abdomen like a spider, the hero created a special set of bracelets that could fire a chemical adhesive. That adhesive would form ropes or netting or anything else he needed.
That was the norm for Spider-Man for decades until the 2002 movie made a radical change.
In the first Spider-Man movie, Peter Parker developed spinnerets in his wrists that would fire webbing by pushing on the palms of his hands. According to director Sam Raimi, the decision was made to get rid of the mechanical web-shooters to simplify the story. He also thought it was unrealistic that a teenager could create something so advanced at the same time as developing spider-powers. Those special wrists carried all the way through to the original Spider-Man trilogy and organic web-shooters found their way into the comics as well with the "Disassembled" storyline. However, the later movies brought back Spider-Man's bracelets and so did the comics.
11 HE HAD SIX HANDS
Spider-Man has a lot of spider-like features. He has a web. He climbs walls. Yet he hasn't kept all of a spider's traits. For instance, he only has two eyes, he doesn't eat insects, and he isn't covered in black hairs. Spiders are also known for having eight legs, and Spider-Man has two feet and two hands. Well, Marvel once decided to fix that oversight with what came to be known as the Six Arms Saga.
Starting in Amazing Spider-Man #100 (written by Stan Lee and drawn by Gil Kane), Spider-Man was having so much trouble with his superhero life that he decided his powers caused him too many problems and wanted them gone. He created a chemical intended to take away his powers but the brew backfired in a spectacular way. When he went to sleep, he woke up to discover the chemical had increased his spider powers instead and gave him four extra arms along the sides of his body. While Spidey had to fight off a new threat of Morbius the vampire, he also had to turn to Doctor Curt Connors for help making a serum to reverse the effects. The sight of Spider-Man with six arms was horrifying but awesome.
10 HIS WRISTS HAD STINGERS
With Peter Parker's brilliant scientific mind and radioactive spider bite, Spider-Man has always been a hero based on science, but things changed in 2005 with a storyline that came to be called "The Other." In the crossover, Spider-Man found himself having weird symptoms and dreams about a spider god claiming that his powers come from tapping into a mystical force. Parker seemingly died and was reborn from a cocoon with new and strange abilities. One of the oddest changes were his so-called "stingers."
These stingers were coated with a venom that caused minor paralysis.
During a fight, Peter Parker suddenly popped out long, razor-sharp spikes from his arms below his wrists. They were sort of like Wolverine's claws except they weren't made of metal and didn't cut people up. Instead, they were coated with a venom that caused minor paralysis when someone was stabbed or cut with them. Peter Parker lost the stingers along with his other new powers, but his clone Kaine Parker does have them. What made the stingers even weirder is that spiders don't have "stingers." They have fangs but not spikes that come out of their wrists. Then again, spiders don't have a spider-sense either so we'll just chalk that up to the coolness factor and let it go.
9 SPIDER-MAN'S TRIGGER
Some of Spider-Man's most important tools are his web-shooters. Worn on his wrists, the specially-designed bracelets are masterpieces of technology in a tiny package. Special cartridges hold pressurized containers of a super-strong polymer-like spider webbing that's both extremely sticky and also malleable. To release the webbing, Spider-Man has a special trigger in the palm of his gloves, making his hands the main control for his web-slinging.
The trigger isn't just something for him to tap. It works by piercing the web cartridges in a precise way that releases the webbing. The trigger has to be tapped twice with his middle fingers to avoid accidental firing, and in some comics, it's said that the tap requires abnormal strength so no one can tap it but him. How long he holds the trigger down determines how much webbing is released, letting him shoot thin lines or huge gobs. When he releases the trigger, the webbing is cut, and he can vary the taps and amount to create anything from wires to swing on to netting to tie up bad guys. He can even make complex shapes like parachutes or baseball bats. That's a lot of things he can do with his middle fingers.
8 SCARLET SPIDER'S WEB
During the "Clone Saga," Peter Parker discovered he had been cloned by a villain named the Jackal, who created a duplicate named Ben Reilly. Reilly went on to develop his own identity as the Scarlet Spider and briefly took over as Spider-Man before moving on after Peter Parker returned. During that time, he made some major changes to the standard web-shooter that Peter Parker used as Spider-Man. For one thing, Reilly used a new form of webbing called "impact webbing" that would be ejected as balls that explode like bombs on contact. The exploding webbing would cover and wrap up his targets.
Reilly also used darts filled with a fast-acting sedative that he would shoot at his enemies to knock them out in a non-violent way.
The modified bracelets would fire based on his wrist movements instead of the palm trigger Parker normally used, and also used larger cartridges than the originals. When Ben Reilly died, Peter Parker had the new modified web-shooters but decided not to use them because he found them too cumbersome. However, in an alternate future, his daughter took on the mantle of Spider-Girl and used the new and improved web-shooters.
7 VENOM STRIKE
In 2011, Ultimate Comics Fallout #4 (Brian Michael Bendis, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer, Sara Pichelli, Salvador Larroca, Clayton Crain) introduced a new version of Spider-Man. African-Latino teenager Miles Morales took over the mantle of Spider-Man, and had some new powers along with the usual assortment. One of his most powerful was what he called his "venom strike." By controlling and increasing the natural electrical charge his body produces, Miles can release a bio-electric shock through his hands into his enemies. The shock can stun or even knock his enemies unconscious.
The venom blast can work by touching someone or he can send the shock through an object like his webbing into the other person. He can also combine the venom strike with a punch to add more impact. It gives Miles a non-lethal alternative to ending fights. The venom strike can also affect mechanical equipment and machines, shutting down computers or (in one case) an entire Hydra lab. Most recently, Miles discovered he could release a huge burst of energy in what he called a Mega Venom Blast. The blast is able to take out a whole area, but leaves him exhausted. It's a shocking (pun intended) but awesome weapon in Spider-Man's arsenal.
6 THE SECRET HANDSHAKE
In Spider-Man: Homecoming, we saw a different Spider-Man with a new and younger Peter Parker who was friends with the genius teen Ned Leeds. The two were obviously old friends, and we saw that through a unique six-part handshake that they broke out in moments of celebration. The handshake was awesome, but it inspired a fan theory that it was actually about the Avengers
On Reddit, the user "mrtyman" argued that you could break the handshake into six different parts, each of which represented a different Avengers.
The first part of the handshake where they grab hands could stand for Thor and/or his hammer. The second part, where they made the shape of a bird, could be Hawkeye. They followed that by bumping fists as a reference to Hulk, raising their arms to copy Captain America's shield, slapping palms to reference Iron Man's repulsors and finally a gun which is a reference to Black Widow. Of course, guns aren't Black Widow's only weapon and there are more moves than six in the handshake, but it's a fun idea. It seems like the handshake is more about how the two of them are great friends and like to have fun more than anything.
5 HE CAN STICK TO HIS BACK
When you say "sticky" and Spider-Man, you think of his hands, but it's not all about his hands and feet. In some versions, Spider-Man's power to crawl along walls is a molecular bond that he can create between himself and other objects. That meant Spider-Man discovered he could stick with any part of his body, including his butt, and through clothes. In 2006's Amazing Spider-Man #528 (J. Michael Straczynski, Mike Deodato, Jr.), he was in the middle of a storyline called "The Other" where embracing his animalistic side had given him new and strange powers.
While waiting for his costume to be repaired, the power went out and he raced to an apartment building that threatened to collapse. He freed people inside but had to go back to rescue a lost little girl. When he created a web-line for a trapped man inside to find his way out, Spider-Man discovered he could feel a vibration along its length that led him to the trapped girl scraping a rock against a wall. He had to use his hands to dig, so he stuck the girl to his back to carry her out while he dug. Weird but cool.
4 SUPERIOR SPIDERMAN'S TALONS
In 2013's Amazing Spider-Man #698 (Dan Slott, Richard Elson), Spider-Man went through a radical change. His archenemy Doctor Octopus switched minds with Peter Parker, taking over the hero's body and leaving Parker to die in Doc Ock's frail body. However, some remnant of Peter remained, driving Octavius to become a hero on his own: the new Superior Spider-Man. Although Peter originally designed the costume and gadgets, Otto Octavius decided to make changes and upgrades to his weapons and technology.
Since the Superior Spider-Man had no hangups about hurting or even killing his enemies, they were used for just that.
In the first version of his new costume, Octavius added retractable sharp talons on his hands and feet. The talons on his gloves could be used to scale walls but also in combat while fighting crime. Since the Superior Spider-Man had no hangups about hurting or even killing his enemies, they were used for just that. He also rigged the talons so they could inject microscopic spider-tracers with built-in GPS and eavesdropping capabilities. Later on, Octavius upgraded the talons to make them larger and capable of injecting nano-spider-tracers that could detonate inside people, causing paralysis. It was a brutal tool that Peter Parker decided not to keep once he took over his own body again.
3 CAPTAIN UNIVERSE
Spider-Man isn't an underpowered hero but he and his hands have never been more powerful than when he was Captain Universe. Captain Universe isn't a single person but an identity that's been passed from one person to another to serve a guardian and protector of the cosmic being Eternity. In 1989's Spectacular Spider-Man #158 (Gerry Conway, Sal Buscema), Peter Parker gained the power of Captain Universe when he was struck by electricity in a lab accident involving an interdimensional machine with professor Max Lubisch.
Spider-Man didn't understand his new powers, but made the most of them. Not only did he have increased senses, the power of flight and way more strength, he could also control his webbing to a finer degree. As far as his hands, Spider-Man also discovered he could shoot energy blasts that could incinerate almost anything he wanted. He needed those new powers to fight the Tri-Sentinel, a combination of three Sentinel robots created by the trickster Loki. He also fought some of his other enemies like the Trapster, and even bested the Gray Hulk with one punch. When people were threatened, Spider-Man unleashed all of the Captain Universe power to destroy the Tri-Sentinel and save the day.
2 YOU CAN OWN THEM
Other than Wolverine with his adamantium claws, Spider-Man has.some of the most famous and coolest hands in all of the Marvel Universe. His hands stick to walls and fire webbing to swing through New York or tie up his enemies. No one who's playing Spider-Man as a kid or adult would be the same without some version of his web shooters, either real or imagined. In response, the toy industry has been eager to satisfy the need, offering toy Spider-Man gloves for decades.
Yes, they come in adult sizes, too.
Spider-Man gloves started out as just that: gloves. Over time, early versions started adding in the web-shooting element, although they would resort to shooting darts with plastic webbing attached to simulate the webs. Later on, the gloves grew more complicated with some shooting water or "webbing" in the form of Silly String. As electronics grew smaller and cheaper, the toy Spider-Man gloves began including lights and sound effects. These days, you can find Spider-Man gloves that shoot Silly String and spray water, and make all the sound effects of a web shooting including sound clips of the hero saying some of his iconic phrases. And yes, they come in adult sizes, too. That's pretty awesome.
1 GUNS IN HIS WRISTS
In most universes, Spider-Man is a hero who lives by a strict code of non-lethal combat. Any death, even accidental, weighs heavy on his conscience. One alternate version that was very different was the Spider-Man that came to be known as Assassin Spider-Man. When Superior Spider-Man sought out other versions of Spider-Man in Superior Spider-Man #32 (Dan Slott, Christos N. Gage, Giuseppe Camuncoli) to defend against a common threat, Assassin Spider-Man came along.
In 2008, What If? Spider-Man vs. Wolverine (Clayton Henry, Jeff Parker, Paul Tobin) explained how Assassin Spider-Man came to be. It was based on the original classic story where Spider-Man fought Wolverine, who was trying to help an old ally Charlemagne commit suicide. Spider-Man accidentally killed her with a punch to the face. In the alternate universe, Spider-Man stayed in Europe to protect Charlemagne's sister Alex, and began working alongside Wolverine killing terrorists. At one point, Spider-Man was mocked for shooting webs, but his enemy was surprised by Web-Head firing a gun he kept in his wrist instead of a web-shooter. That gave the phrase "his hands are deadly weapons" a whole new meaning.