‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ recently came out and sparked an online debate about a totally random topic that basically had nothing to do with the movie. We know that Miles Morales is Christian, but fans are arguing about Peter Parker’s religion, as it was never, in decades of the character’s existence, officially confirmed. So, is Peter Jewish, Christian, or something else?
Peter Parker is not Jewish. Although Peter Parker has some core values that resemble Jewish values, there’s nothing in the history of the character to suggest that he is actually Jewish. If anything, Peter is often portrayed as not that religious, whereas his family – especially Aunt May – is a Protestant Christian.
There’s more to suggest that Peter Parker actually has a Protestant Christian heritage, despite not being too religious himself – at least in most of the storylines. Still, arguments can be made for both sides, so let’s dive deeper into this topic that many find so intriguing and important to conclude if Peter is Jewish, Christian, or something else entirely.
Why Peter Parker could be Jewish
Although Peter Parker’s religion was never explicitly stated despite the character being 60-ish years old, arguments could’ve – and have – been made that he is actually Jewish.
One of the main arguments about Peter Parker being Jewish is that the character’s creator, Stan Lee, was also Jewish and that Spider-Man was actually created to be a picture version of Lee himself.
And indeed, there are glaring similarities. For instance, According to a great book on Stan Lee’s life by Danny Fingeroth, we learn that Lee worked closely with his uncle in publishing when he was 16 years old, living in NYC.
However, using that as an argument is kind of silly if you ask me. If Parker is Jewish because Lee is Jewish, wouldn’t that make every character that Lee ever created Jewish too?
Even Stan himself explained that the inspiration for Spider-Man wasn’t himself – but it was a biblical character – King David. David never asked for his power and responsibility – he was pushed into it, just like Peter was when the spider bit him.
Another important argument for Spidey being Jewish is the fact that most comic book characters between the 1940s and the 1960s were Jewish, as the trauma of the Holocaust was used as a great origin story for many heroes.
That might be a bit of a generalization, but the fact is, many new characters from this particular period were, in fact, Jewish.
Peter Parker, however, first appeared in 1962. I’ve also read that he was written as a Jewish immigrant stereotype because he was despised and cast out by his peers, but come on – that has to be an absolute generalization and an illogical conclusion based on assumption.
Then you have the case of Andrew Garfield – the second actor to portray Spidey in live-action films. His comments about Peter Parker being Jewish were taken as true when, in fact, the guy was joking. He basically said Spidey had to be Jewish because he’s neurotic.
Of course, Sam Raimi and Avi Arad – the director and producer, respectively, of the Tobey Maguire-led Spider-Man trilogy, both expressed that they envisioned their version of Peter to be Jewish – as both of them were Jewish as well. Raimi took it a bit more jokingly, though, saying:
“Spider-Man is a character that spends his life trying to pay down his guilt. That’s a real classically Jewish quality — to be very aware of your sins in this life and try to make amends for them in this life.”
But, even if you take their comments seriously, it still doesn’t mean that Peter Parker is canonically Jewish – it just makes their vision of Peter Parker Jewish.
Then there’s talk about the main trait of Peter Parker’s evolution into Spider-Man: his guilt for not saving Uncle Ben, driving him to become a hero and save people. Jewish guilt, or a principle called teshuvah, is an integral part of Judaism that emphasizes acknowledging your mistakes and making amends.
If you take that Peter Parker’s guilt is his driving force, you might say it is, at its core, a Jewish value. Still, that doesn’t make Peter Jewish, and if you browse through the comics, there’s essentially no evidence – not even a reference – that Peter Parker might be Jewish.
There are, however, references that suggest he might be a member of another religion.
What’s Peter Parker’s religion?
Now, I’m going to highlight one more time that Peter Parker’s religion has never, ever been explicitly confirmed in the comics. However, there are numerous references, hints, and pointers that Peter Parker is actually a Protestant Christian – or, at least, has a Protestant Christian heritage.
We know that his Aunt May is quite religious and often prays, whereas Peter isn’t really that much into religion. While at the funeral for his Uncle Ben, we can see that it’s taking place at a Christian cemetery due to the crucifixes visible in the background. The page scan below comes from ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #1.1: Learning to Crawl.
There was lot talk about religion in Spider-Man comics, but again, no specific confirmations were ever given. Still, hints have been popping up all the time, even outside of the main, Earth-616 universe.
For instance, in the Ultimate Universe, aka Earth-1610, Spidey explicitly stated he wasn’t Jewish. In the issue ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ #106 from 2000, there’s an inner monologue where Peter talks about calling his ex-girlfriend to deliver some bad news, to which he uses the traditionally-Jewish phrase: ‘Oy, vey!’
He then says to himself: ‘Exactly, and I’m not even Jewish.’
We learn more about what he actually IS, though, in 2009, throughout issues of ‘Ultimate Comics Fallout’ #1-6, also known as ‘Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: Death of Spider-Man Fallout.’ The following scan is from within the pages of these comics.
As you can clearly see, Peter Parker’s funeral is taking place inside a Christian Cathedral – at least, it appears to be so architecturally. However, if there was any doubt, it can be cast aside a few pages later, where we see the inside of the church and Christian crucifixes on the wall.
Lastly, if you need more confirmation that Peter Parker’s heritage is Christian, just look at all the Christmas issues that Spidey was involved in.
Okay, maybe he was just battling Kingpin, who happened to be dressed as Santa Claus. How about this one, then?
All in all, it seems rather evident that Peter Parker – or his family, at least, is Christian, and judging by his heritage and other references from the comics, the conclusion is that Parker is a Protestant Christian.
Is Peter Parker even religious?
If I’m being honest, I’m leaning toward the fact that Peter Parker is actually an atheist – or agnostic. The Christmas issues? Spider-Man sells well; Christmas sells great. Maybe he’s just a guy that loves celebrating Christmas, right? He doesn’t have to be too religious to do so.
His funeral or the funeral of his Uncle Ben may be done according to Christian customs, but it’s his family’s religion, so of course, he won’t protest against it. After all, it was his upbringing, right?
However, after seeing everything that Peter had seen – high-fiving a Norse God of Thunder at work every other day, while also talking to Hercules, a Greek god, and his father Zeus a couple of times, and then dealing with an alien invasion while trying to get help from the Sorcerer Supreme to close portals to another dimension?
The mystery of their being an omnipotent god overlooking all of that – at least in a traditional, religious sense – kind of gets faded, am I right?
But don’t take it from me – take it from the comics. This particular scan came from ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ Vol. 4 #1.3 – aka the Amazing Grace storyline. I found the storyline to be… odd, to say the least, but it did give us a better understanding of Spidey and his view of religion.
Technically, the ‘Amazing Grace’ storyline finishes with Peter trying to find his faith again, but it never really comes to fruition, as far as I’ve connected the dots.
Another instance where Peter Parker shows that he’s not that religious is in ‘Marvel Knights Spider-Man’ #14 from 2005. He talks to a new Daily Bugle colleague, Ethan Edwards (sort of a Clark Kent parody, but that’s not really important), and he asks Peter if he had prayed today.
All in all, Peter Parker isn’t a religious guy, and, at least in newer comics, he’s portrayed more like an atheist/agnostic character rather than a religious one. He does hold some Jewish values, but it doesn’t really make him Jewish, and his family is religious Protestant Christian, but Peter doesn’t display the same devotion to his fate.
I hope this clarifies all you need to know about Spidey’s religion once and for all. What do you think? Let us know in the comments!