Alternative Tipping Point: Spider-Man

Here’s another cheater entry: the writing exercise from earlier in this week, all based on what would happen if Spider-Man did stop the criminal who would later kill his Uncle Ben.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

The reason Spider-Man didn’t stop the criminal in the original story is because the wrestling manager for whom Spider-Man was auditioning ripped him off, and he was bitter. In this version of events, Spider-Man stops the thief. The manager, thankful that Spider-Man saved his money, decides to support Peter Parker’s movement into the world of meta-human entertainment. This is the beginning of a life-long relationship that is very profitable for both men.

Spider-Man becomes not a hero, but a television celebrity. Peter gains some status, and he helps to lift Aunt May and Uncle Ben out of poverty, buying them a house. Aunt May is happy and as a result of less stress, her overall health is better than in the previous continuity. Peter is grounded in the good morality his aunt and uncle teach him. His aunt and uncle suggest to him that celebrity might only be temporary, and strongly suggest that he still pursue a college degree.

Peter goes to college for a semester, but his career as a wrestling meta-human gradually takes more and more time, so he drops out. True, dropping out is against Aunt May and Uncle Ben’s wishes, but Peter’s manager makes sure Peter gets a nice slice of the merchandising rights for the Spider-Man toys, costumes, and cartoons that come out as Peter’s popularity increases. Peter and his family build up a healthy nest egg. Aunt May and Uncle Ben come around to agree with Peter that quitting college was a sound decision.

During Peter’s semester at college, he meets Gwen Stacy. Another positive from not being Spider-Man the hero is that both Gwen and her dad George are not killed by Spider-Man villains. Gwen is a nice girl and Peter is a nice guy, and they decide to marry. As the years go by, Peter sees his main obligation as taking care of his family: Aunt May, Uncle Ben, Gwen and their two sons. Peter believes that this is why he was given the gift of his spider powers. This is the great responsibility that comes with great powers.

Throughout his adult life, Peter continues wrestling, touring the country and gaining status by moving up into higher profile leagues. Ultimately, Spider-Man will end up in the same wrestling federation as the Thing from the Fantastic Four and the reformed Sandman. This reality emulates the previous one as Spider-Man assists the Thing and the rest of the Fantastic Four in a brief fight against Dr. Doom. Aunt May makes Peter promise he will never do anything that risky again, and he listens to her. This doesn’t stop Peter’s promoters from striking a comics deal with Marvel Comics. Peter Parker, Wrestling Spider-Man, the comic, lasts for about a year.

Life is good for Peter, Gwen, and the Parker family. But who might be affected adversely by this Spider-Man-shaped hole in the universe? First of all, the future will be very different for Harry Osborne. Harry, Peter’s drug-addicted roommate in college, was the son of the Green Goblin. Upon finding out about his dad’s activities, Harry overdoes the heroin one sad night and dies. Since Peter lived with Harry for one semester, this is barely a blip on Peter’s radar.

Mary Jane Watson, who ultimately marries Peter in the other continuity, continues to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Regrettably, MJ was always a bit wild, and she gets caught up in the glamorous life of Hollywood. Pretty, but not super-talented, she manages to snag bit roles, a long running gig in a 70s sitcom, and ultimately becomes a has-been actress who is relegated to nostalgia status, like Farrah Fawcett or Suzanne Summers. MJ goes into and out of rehab because of trouble with alcohol. She achieves minor infamy as the mistress of a politician.

J. Jonah Jameson no longer has the Spider-Man menace to fuel his newspaper or his ego. Being the paranoid that he is, Jameson does not need any particular hero to rail against. Since there is no Spider-Man, other masked vigilantes of the Marvel Universe do nicely, starting with Daredevil, the Man without Fear, moving into the Punisher (where everyone admits he actually has a point), and finishing with the exploits of Powerman and Iron Fist. JJJ’s astronaut son still becomes the werewolf Man-Wolf, but Spider-Man isn’t around to stop his beserker rage or cure him. The Avengers stop Man-Wolf, but cannot cure him. The military court-martials and executes him, and Jameson, immensely invested in his son, is a broken man. Robbie Robertson inherits editorship of the Daily Bugle.

While other heroes assume the responsibility for protecting the world against a variety of Spider-Man villains, the villain most adversely affected by the heroic Spider-Man is Dr. Curtis Connors, the Lizard. The Lizard is not cured by Peter Parker after Dr. Connors experiments on himself, and the Lizard is destroyed by the Florida National Guard.

In retirement, Peter Parker wonders about what could have been. Should he have taken the Thing’s advice, and fought crime like the Avengers? No, probably not. It’s been a good life. He still travels and signs autographs, and he enjoys the contact with his fans. It’s been a good life. He’s been happy. And he’s a hero to his kids. That is more than enough.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

One thought on “Alternative Tipping Point: Spider-Man”

  1. A fascinating exercise.
    If you ask me, Peter Parker’s contributions as Spider-Man aren’t essential because of the villains he fights. Like you say, other heroes rise to fight the bad guys, taking on Doctor Octopus and Green Goblin and all the rest.
    I think Peter’s true nature, his one true defining role in the Marvel Universe is as its heart. No other hero gets around, teams up with so many disparate people, gets involved in such pivotal moments, or means so much as Peter Parker. Whereas Reed Richards is the pure intellect, and Captain America is the father figure/born leader, and Ben Grimm is the best buddy, and Susan Richards is the mother figure and Tony Stark is the party guy with all the neat tricks and the X-Men are the prep school weirdoes – Peter Parker represents the heart of the M.U.

    He will drop anything, do anything, go anywhere, for a friend or even an enemy in need. He’s the guy you can always count on to help you, even at the expense of his own happiness. He’s a moral compass, a degree of connection, a genuinely good person, and he sits at the heart of the M.U. like no other. (Wolverine? Good grief, no, he’s the guy everyone knows but doesn’t get too close to. He’s the guy you call when you’re in trouble, but you keep your girlfriend and beer locked up.)

    I think that if Peter Parker had stopped the burglar and gone on to be a professional entertainer, the Marvel Universe would have lacked a certain something to bring it all together. I honestly can’t see any other hero filling that role, without some severe changes.

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