Spider-Man at 50: Kevin Feige feels Peter Parker’s pain

April 18, 2012 | 6:59 a.m.

SPIDER-MAN AT 50: It’s the 50th anniversary of Marvel’s greatest icon, and all year Hero Complex will talk to notable names about the character’s success and singular appeal. In this installment: Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, talks about his favorite issue of Spider-Man.

spider man 50 page Spider Man at 50: Kevin Feige feels Peter Parkers pain

A page from "The Amazing Spider-Man" no. 50 (Marvel Comics)

Before the Marvel Comics of the 1960s, the typical comic book superhero might have to stand up to bullets, boulders, magic spells or even the occasional alien missile but none of them ever got hit with hard luck in their personal life quite the way Peter Parker did in the July 1967 story called “Spider-Man No More!”

The tale, by writer Stan Lee and artist John Romita, appeared in the 50th issue of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” found young Parker reeling from the news of his Aunt May’s failing health but also dealing with his sinking school grades and a bounty put on his head by the ever-shrill Daily Bugle. Frustrated, he throws his Spider-Man costume into a trash can — a classic example of the Marvel melodrama that transformed comics in the 1960s and a moment that would echo for decades.

No one knows those echoes better than Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. Feige is an executive producer of Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which reaches theaters July 3, and he held the same title on Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2″ and “Spider-Man 3.” All three of those films pull on themes from that issue or, in the case of “Spider-Man 2,” even specific panels.

“Spider-Man No. 50,  ‘Spider-Man No More,’ remains one of my favorite comics of all time,” Feige said when asked to share a signature memory he has of the character in any medium. “The idea that even for a superhero things can get so bad in life that they just want to give up or walk away…”

The issue is a tuning fork of sorts for anyone looking to portray the core attributes and tribulations in the life of Parker, a young man who life gets more complicated as his body goes through strange changes — a character arc that resonates with any kid going through puberty even if they don’t get bitten by a radioactive spider.

Feige said that, like so many other readers through the years, he could really feel Parker’s pain coming through Romita’s graceful panels and Lee’s hyperbolic pathos.

“The issue reminds me that we all have moments of doubt in our lives and that even the strongest amongst us can let these doubts get the best of us,” Feige said. “However, we all can push through them and come out stronger on the other side. One of the proudest moments of my early film career was being able to bring the ideas explored in this particular comic to the development process of the second Spider-Man film.”

– Geoff Boucher

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