Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

What is the psychology behind Spider-Man?

What is the psychology behind Spider-Man? A professional therapist breaks down the Spider Verse and what makes Marvel’s webslinger tick

One of the best running jokes in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” the 2018 Oscar-winning animated film, is the introduction of each new version of Marvel’s webslinger.

Led by Miles Morales, the film’s Afro-Latino protagonist, there is a multiverse worth of Spider-Men, Spider-Women and Spider-Beings that might look different but all have a similar story. Tragic loss, amazing powers and a step into the limelight as a version of Spider-Man.

The highly-anticipated sequel to “Into the Spiderverse,” “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” is now in theaters and introduces even more multiversal versions of the character. But look under the mask and you’ll find they all have more in common than just a tragic backstory.

To figure out what makes the webslinger tick—and what’s made Spider-Man one of the most indelible characters in modern pop culture—William Sharp, a therapist and associate teaching professor of psychology at Northeastern University, put the character on his hypothetical therapist’s couch. What he found is a set of core traits that is central to the character, whether it’s Peter Parker, Miles Morales or Peter Porker (aka Spider-Ham) under the mask.

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Photo by Sony Pictures Animation

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