Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. This week, let’s chat about one Peter B. Parker (the B stands for BAE).
Who Is Peter B. Parker?
Peter B. Parker appears in Into the Spider-Verse, as the washed-up hero from a different dimension who reluctantly teaches this dimension’s Spider-Man, Miles Morales, the ropes (the webs?). He’s a far cry from Miles’ Peter Parker, the charming and weirdly debonair Spider-Man who loses his life battling the Kingpin. But, shocking as it may be, Peter B. Parker is the Spider-Man we know and love. Spider-Verse shows that Peter B. Parker is from Earth-616, the mainstream Marvel continuity. That means the Spider-Man narrative we’ve all become incredibly familiar with belongs to one Peter B. Parker. So who is Peter B. Parker?
If we accept Peter B. as 616 Spider-Man, we know the story. Peter B. Parker was an ordinary kid, a bit of a nerd, but alright. One day, he was bitten by a radioactive spider, which gave him a strange set of superpowers. Peter is just a kid, and doesn’t know what to do. He receives great advice from his Uncle Ben, however: with great power comes great responsibility.
When Uncle Ben dies, Peter dedicates his life to fighting crime. He becomes Spider-Man, the friendly neighborhood hero who protects New York City from a strange assortment of criminals and supervillains alike. Spider-Man is the everyman hero, not a big shot like Iron Man or Captain America. He looks out for the little guy, and is loved by the city for it.
Along the way, Peter continues to live his life. He works as a photographer for the Daily Bugle newspaper. He starts a relationship with his childhood love, Mary Jane Watson, and they eventually get married. Peter Parker may not live large, but he has a good life and is able to dedicate himself to protecting the city he loves.
Of course, that’s the story we know. We’ve seen it time and time again; the story of Peter Parker is an enduring one. Multiple film adaptations have shown us the origin story of Spider-Man. Spider-Verse shows us what happens after the origin story. After the happy(ish) ending we’ve seen before, what happens to Peter?
Sadly, it’s not great. Spider-Verse shows us that Peter’s life goes downhill pretty severely. After so long crime fighting as Spider-Man, it takes a toll on Peter’s life. Aunt May dies, leaving Peter utterly without blood relations. He and Mary Jane can’t agree on children, and they eventually get divorced. Peter has a mid-life crisis and stops fighting crime, instead wallowing in self-pity in a crappy apartment.
It’s an inglorious end for the hero we know and love. Luckily, it’s not the end. Because while Peter may have given up, the universe has other plans in store for him. One day, a strange occurrence happens while Peter is wallowing. A dimensional portal opens up in his apartment, sucking him into a vortex of inter-dimensional space.
Peter ends up in a parallel universe. Things are almost the same, but not quite. Most notably, this universe’s Peter Parker has just died. He was also still happily married to Mary Jane. Although Peter B. is shocked, he puts this all aside in the hopes of making it back to his own universe.
Things get off track when Peter runs into Miles Morales, the last person to see Peter Parker alive. Miles is horrified to see a surprisingly not dead Peter Parker. He’s also in a bit of a sticky situation: Miles had recently been bitten, and was on his way to becoming the newest Spider-Man. He needs guidance, and hopes Peter will help.
However, while the dying Peter Parker had promised to show Miles how to be Spider-Man, Peter B. Parker wants nothing to do with it. He doesn’t want to be a hero, nor does he want to show a new, young hero what to do. All he wants is to get back to his dimension where he can wallow in peace.
Miles won’t quite take no for an answer, though. He’d promised his Peter that he would destroy the machine that brought Peter B. to his dimension, and intends to keep that promise. Miles shadows Peter B. as he tries to gain access to the machine, knowing it’s his only chance to get home. But while Peter is focused on getting home, Miles knows he has to destroy it.
Peter reluctantly teaches Miles a little about being Spider-Man. In an escape from the facility where they got necessary information, they learn about web-slinging and teamwork. Miles is happy to finally be learning, and Peter sees that he is capable of helping and guiding a young hero.
Things get a little more complicated when an assortment of other Spider-people show up, also having been brought to this dimension. However, they all work together to get home. Peter prepares to sacrifice himself, holding the portal open for the others. Miles, who had been left at home for his safety, shows up to save the day, allowing Peter the chance to try again.
Back in his own world, Peter B. Parker determines to give things another shot. He’s seen the potential he thought he lost. His relationship with Miles showed him that children were not something to fear, so he wants to give his relationship with Mary Jane another shot. Peter Parker is back, and this time he’ll do thigs right.
Why Is Peter B. Parker Bae?
Okay, I know I’ve written about Peter Parker before. But that was a different Peter Parker. While they may both be Earth-616, there’s a vast difference between the young, hopeful, adorable Tom Holland, Peter Parker, and mid-life crisis Peter B. Parker. Both are lovable, but in different ways, and deserve their own chance to shine.
Because Peter B. Parker is definitely lovable. He works the dad-bod, not a sentence I ever envisioned myself writing. I maintain my position that it’s hard to describe why animated people are attractive, but Peter B. Parker is definitely attractive. And for proof, check out this amazing cosplay by Tumblr user lightgetsout that shows what a live-action Peter B. Parker would look like… he can get it.
One of the best things in Spider-Verse is the relationship that develops between Miles and Peter B. Miles had grown up with Spider-Man as a hero in his universe. Peter Parker was an icon, with a chiseled jaw and piercing blue eyes. When Miles underwent his spider-y transformation, running into Peter helped ground him. This hero promised to show him the ropes. Miles wasn’t alone.
And then, of course, Peter Parker died. That kind of threw off Miles’ hopes and dreams. Add in the fact that Peter had given Miles a mission to complete, despite having no idea how to even manage his powers. So when Miles runs into Peter B. Parker, he thinks he has another shot. Here’s a back-up Spider-Man, who can show him the ropes and help him complete the other Parker’s mission.
The only problem is that Peter B. Parker takes one look at this tiny, would-be Spider-Man and says no. No, he will not be a teacher. No, he will not destroy the machine. Peter B. Parker is not the hero Miles knew. He just wants to get home. Doubling down the issue is that Peter is not exactly kid-friendly. The reason he and MJ split was because she wanted kids and he didn’t.
So it seems like there’s no hope for Miles and Peter B. But over the course of Spider-Verse, they bond. Miles wears down Peter’s walls and shows him that he is capable of being a good mentor. Peter shows Miles just what it means to be Spider-Man, that it’s not about certainty but a leap of faith. Miles even helps Peter realize he could be a dad, and when Peter goes home, he gives it another shot with MJ. Miles didn’t need a dad. But Peter needed a son.
Another thing that makes Peter B. Parker bae-worthy is just how relatable he is. Superheroes are often larger than life figures. Billionaires, geniuses, (playboy philanthropists) – it’s hard to relate to superheroes. We might like them and see similarities to them. But no matter how much I see hints of myself in Tony Stark, he’s so far out of reach that I can never truly relate.
But Peter B. Parker? That right there is one damn relatable superhero. Sure, I have a lot more in common with someone who uses their intelligence to fight crime than someone who was bitten by a radioactive spider and gained spider-based mutative powers. My intelligence puts me in camp Tony, my crippling arachnophobia puts me solidly out of camp Spidey.
All that aside, though, Peter B. Parker is just a relatable person. Sure, he has spider-based superpowers and used to fight all sorts of weird villains to save New York. But, he also eats pizza in bed and cries in the shower. Peter B. Parker is sad millennial kin, and I love it.
Peter B. shows the other side of things, the less heroic side. He shows us what happens after a lifetime spent in service of justice, and the toll that would take. Sure, we’ve seen hints of this in the MCU, with Tony Stark’s PTSD and such. But Spider-Verse is the first time we see a truly pathetic hero. I love him.
Every moment is iconic. Scarfing down food in a favorite restaurant that closed in his universe? Classic. Sweatpants over costume? Fantastic. Moments of self-doubt and reflection, even in the middle of a battle? ICONIC. Peter B. Parker is sweet, and pathetic, and kind, and a loser. He is, more than anything else, relatable. That’s great.
What’s Not To Love?
Miles Morales was the undoubted break out star of Into the Spider-Verse, which makes sense since it was his movie. Crowds came out of the theater absolutely endeared by this adorable new spider-baby, and we all can’t wait to see what’s next for Miles.
But Peter B. Parker stole a little bit of the spotlight. There were a lot of great Spider-people in this movie. Spider-Gwen is amazing, and I loved seeing Gwen Stacy come to life. John Mulaney hammed it up as Spider-Ham. All of the heroes we got to see were endearing in their own right, and I hope we see them again.
Out of all the spider heroes, though, Peter B. Parker caught my eye. Dad bod Parker was cute, pathetic, and utterly relatable. He may or may not actually be a millennial, but he’s definitely got the millennial spirit down. How could I not love someone – a hero, no less – who fully encapsulates the pathetic state of being for my generation?
But Peter B. Parker isn’t just a sad, washed up has been. No, he shows a redemption narrative, a chance to move past this sad point in our lives. Peter B. Parker shows what we could be, what we can be. At the beginning of Spider-Verse, Peter B. is us. He’s sad, alone, and depressed. But with a little work, and a little help from Miles, he remembers who he is. He’s Spider-Man.
The narrative of Peter B. Parker in this movie is one of hope, of second chances, of helping the new bring about change, while still respecting the old. Peter B. Parker is relatable, but he’s also a glimpse at something better than we are. How could you not love him? He’s the hero of my heart.