Peter Parker was a nerdy kid from Queens who was constantly picked on by the jocks at his high school. Girls didn’t like him, and he didn’t really have any friends. He was a social outcast. At about the same time that Peter was in college, another group of nerdy kids from Queens was forming a band that would completely change the direction of Rock and Roll music by tearing it down and starting from scratch. They called themselves The Ramones, and what they pioneered would later be called “Punk Rock”. It was primal, minimal, energetic, amateur, and unlike anything that had been done before.
The social outcast Peter Parker had also been making a name for himself around New York City for his exploits as the Amazing Spider-Man. Spider-Man was a very minimalist superhero, and a very amateur one at that. Unlike the other superhero figures in New York, Spider-Man didn’t have a big mansion to use as a base of operations, or a flying rocket car to cruise around in, or high-tech battle armor with repulsor beams to fire at his enemies. He didn’t even know how to throw a punch. He had a homemade spandex costume, some web shooters for his wrists, his powers, and his intellect. He wasn’t very good at being a superhero the way other superheroes were, so he just taught himself and made it on his own. A lot of people didn’t like him as much as say, Captain America or Iron Man, but he still had his own little following.
At first, not a whole lot of people liked The Ramones either, but they too had a small following. Most music critics, who were used to more professional sounding music, thought the band was silly and stupid and wouldn’t make it very far, but before too long this kind of amateur Rock and Roll began to grow in popularity among the other social outcasts of the time. It seemed that there were a lot of kids at that time who wanted to play music, but they didn’t know anything beyond the overblown, self-indulgent music of the 1970s. More bands like the Ramones started to pop up, especially in Britain after The Ramones did their first tour overseas. Bands like The Damned, The Clash, The Buzzcocks, and The Sex Pistols began to take the minimalist Rock and Roll of The Ramones and create an entire artistic movement and subculture for social outcasts who yearned to be rebellious and artistically active without conforming to all of the watered down garbage that the older people were into. The Ramones brought an alternative, a style of music that wasn’t popular, and probably wouldn’t make you a Rock Star, which was exactly what those kids were looking for.
Being a big star is something that Spider-Man didn’t have to worry about too much either. At first he thought to use his powers for profit and self-gain, but lost someone very close to him because of his selfishness. After that he decided to eschew fame and fortune for a life of fighting crime. Spidey was often on the receiving end of some terrible insults brought on by the local news media, and a lot of other superheroes wrote him off as an annoying novice, but the voices of these nay-sayers were almost always deflected by Spider-Man’s smart-ass sense of humor.
Spidey ran into a lot of amateur costumed types just like him, people with pretty amazing powers who dressed up in ridiculous costumes. The only thing is, they all went the other route, and decided to use their super identities for selfish purposes.
As time went on, and punk rock began to usurp mainstream music as the rightful voice of the youth, the genre started to see a lot of bands using their abilities for self-gain. At first they came across just as dedicated to the renunciation of the mainstream as anyone else, but they showed their true colors by signing with huge corporate labels the first chance they got, and betraying the independent music industry and the local punk scenes that gave them their start. Bands like this kept showing up, and with time the music of Punk Rock was so watered down by these radio-friendly punk acts that the punk genre had become the very music that it was started to rebel against. Today the term punk rock, as well as the movement, has been tenderized and regurgitated by the corporate world so much that all potency has been completely drained from it. Even as I type this, I feel more like a historian than a musical enthusiast
These days Spider-Man has been acting a little out of character. While his latest movie had him adopt an “emo” attitude, something most punk rockers consider to be a joke and a mockery of their style, his flagship title has depicted him as selling out in a sense. Whereas Spidey used to be the underdog, the loner who never fit in with the other heroes and never had any big super gadgets, he is now a full-f-f—ledged member of the Avengers and spent most of last year in a silly red and gold armored costume that Iron Man made for him in exchange for his loyalty to the government. Big Punk Rock no-no there, but eventually he would go against his decision to help the government persecute others like him and would instead join an underground team of Avengers to fight the government. That’s pretty punk rock. Joe Strummer would be proud.
In the late 90s The Ramones recorded one of their last songs, a cover of the classic Spider-Man theme song. The lyrics of the song describe Spider-Man almost like the quintessential Punk Rocker, saying “wealth and fame he’s ignored, action is his reward.” I like to think of Spider-Man as the punk rocker’s superhero. Maybe that’s just me, because I relate to the character of Peter Parker so much that I would love to think that he likes the same music that I do, but I think it really fits who he is and how he approaches what he does. That and it would be cool to think that he probably drove his scooter to a few Ramones shows back in the day.