Arguably the most popular superhero line of all time is Spider-Man’s “with great power comes great responsibility” attributed to Ben Parker, also known as Uncle Ben. But has it become too much of a cliche?
Spider-Man Homecoming: Do We Need Uncle Ben’s Famous Line?
The line first appears in Amazing Fantasy #15 as a narrative, not spoken by Uncle Ben, at the end of the comic. It comes after Peter realizes he is at fault for Uncle Ben’s death, and he walks away in the dark, as the narration follows “… aware at last that in this world, with great power there must also come — Great Responsibility!”
The famous line was later attributed to Uncle Ben as he preaches it to Peter in other adaptations like Ultimate Spider-Man and Sam Raimi’s 2002 film Spider-Man.
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Although this line is most famous from the mouth of Uncle Ben, he wasn’t the first person to say it, or something similar to it. President Harry S. Truman said the exact line in November of 1950 in Public Papers of the President of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 6666, and it was also similarly said once in the UK Parliament in 1817, “the possession of great power necessarily implies great responsibility”. A similar line is also found in Luke 12:48 (NIV) “from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked”.
Maybe Uncle Ben was a devout Christian or even a big fan of President Truman, but Ben Parker is the reason this line is famous now. Ben Parker’s utterance of this phrase had a bigger impact then President Truman’s and the Bible’s, it influenced Peter Parker to become Spider-Man.
So after reading it in the comics, seeing Cliff Robertson perfectly preach it in Spider-Man (2002), again in Spider-Man 2 (2004) after Peter gives up being Spider-Man, to the odd moment where Martin Sheen’s Uncle Ben left Peter a voicemail in The Amazing Spider-Man and got the idea across but did not actually say the words, do we need this famous line once more in Spider-Man Homecoming?
This line is a crucial moment in Peter’s life and in Spider-Man history. Peter carries this in the back of his head at all times as a reminder to why he is the hero he is now, as an answer as to why he keeps doing this when it does not seem worth it. This line is the reason for the moment when Peter changes into the man he’s gonna become for the rest of his life. It is the greatest lesson Peter ever learned.
Depriving Spider-Man of this line would be like, Sherlock Holmes without “Elementary, my dear Watson”, Rocky without “Yo! Adrian”, and Spock without “Live long and prosper”. It is unimaginable to think of these influential characters without these lines. They go hand in hand.
Although they have already confirmed that the Uncle Ben storyline will not be in Spider-Man Homecoming, it will be acknowledged according to Co-Producer Eric Carrol.
“They talk about that, absolutely. It’s not… it’s not a huge thing that I want to go into too much, but there is an acknowledgment that there was a Ben,” said Carrol in an interview with Screen Rant on August 2016.
Could we at least get a moment at the end of the movie where Peter is narrating and “with great power comes great responsibility” makes a surprise cameo as he is realizing that he needs to be Spider-Man and that it won’t be an easy task?
Perhaps that would disappoint some people, as there have been many calling for the new movie to completely separate itself from its predecessors. Maybe it will make some people very happy as the line surprises us all in a heartfelt moment. These are all maybes, but we need that defining moment where Peter realizes the man he going to become for the rest of his life, the Spider-Man.
Having that moment would be a joy to my Spider-Man loving heart. A moment where I sit in the theater as the credits roll and I think to myself, “I want to be a better man” and then I rush home and wear my Spidey suit around the house.
I’m a strong supporter of the line in Spider-Man Homecoming. We need it. Just please don’t have Tony Stark say it.