Photo: Courtesy of Marvel.
Spider-Man, it turns out, is one of the Chosen People.
Well, at least according to Andrew Garfield, who currently plays Spider-Man on film. The actor recently told Time Out that his character's nebbishy personality and penchant for witty ripostes stems from his Jewishness. "Peter Parker suffers from self-doubt," said Garfield. "He ums and ahs about his future because he’s neurotic. He’s Jewish. It’s a defining feature."
The claim is not totally out of left field. Both Garfield and the comic's creator, Stan Lee (born Stanley Lieber), are Jewish, and there's also some (admittedly scant) evidence for Spidey's heritage in the comic books. After all, Peter Parker does hail from Forest Hills, a Queens neighborhood with a large Jewish community. Some commentators have also suggested the Spider-Man story is an allegory for the orphaned Jews of post-war Europe who were less than forthcoming about their identities for fear of further persecution.
In the Time Out interview, Garfield tried to clarify he didn't intend to stereotype. "I hope Jewish people won’t mind the cliché, because my father’s Jewish. I have that in me for sure."
The actor also compared his character to one of the world's most famous Jews. "He is misunderstood, like Jesus," Garfield said. "I don’t mind the Jesus parallel for Spider-Man. Jesus is an awesome guy. When Pontius Pilate said: 'They say you’re the son of God. If you’re the son of God tell me.' Jesus was like: 'I know who I am, bitch.'"