|First appearance||Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962)|
|Created by||Stan Lee (writer)
Steve Ditko (artist)
|Full name||Benjamin Parker|
|Supporting character of||Spider-Man|
Benjamin "Ben" Parker, usually called Uncle Ben, is a supporting character in the Marvel Universe's Spider-Man stories. He was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko. Modeled after American founding father Benjamin Franklin, this character portrays an influential role in the Spider-Man mythos.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Other versions
- 4 "With great power comes great responsibility"
- 5 In other media
- 6 Franklin Richards' Uncle Ben
- 7 Son of Spider-Man
- 8 The Other Uncle Ben
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Uncle Ben first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) and was killed in the very same issue. Although his history as a supporting character was very brief, Uncle Ben is an overshadowing figure in Spider-Man's life, often appearing in flashbacks.
Notability of death
The murder of Uncle Ben is notable as one of the few comic book deaths (along with the death of Gwen Stacy) that has never been reversed in terms of official continuity. He was a member of the "Big Three", referring also to Jason Todd (an associate of Batman) and Bucky (an associate of Captain America) whose notable deaths, along with Ben's, gave rise to the phrase: "No one in comics stays dead except for Bucky, Jason Todd, and Uncle Ben". Later, the revivals of both Bucky and Jason in 2005 led to the amendment, "No one in comics stays dead except Uncle Ben". The violent killing of Uncle Ben, done by a common street criminal, also shares multiple similarities to the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, the parents of Batman, which sometimes is included in the saying.
There have been examples of Uncle Ben remaining alive in alternative timelines, including stories featured in Marvel's What If (one of which he forces Peter to unmask in front of J. Jonah Jameson), and a storyline of the 1994 Spider-Man animated series featured a universe where Uncle Ben had never died, and Peter Parker became a successful industrialist, having never really bothered to use his powers responsibly as everything always seemed to work out for him. This fact is used to defeat the rampaging Spider-Carnage by exposing him to the one person he will trust and listen to: the Uncle Ben of that reality.[volume & issue needed]
A story-line in the official series Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man seemingly suggested that Ben may be alive. This Ben, however, was actually from a parallel universe where Aunt May died in a random accident, leaving him to raise Peter. This alternate Ben came to the planet Earth of regular Marvel comics (the 616 reality) as part of an evil plan devised by the Hobgoblin of 2211 to defeat the Spider-Men of different eras.[volume & issue needed]
Fictional character biography
Ben Parker was born in Brooklyn, New York. He trained to be a military police officer. He spent time as a singer in a band. He had known his future wife, May Reilly since their high school days, but she in turn was naively interested in a boy who was involved in criminal activities. When he came to her one night and proposed to her on the spot, Ben was there to expose him as a murderer, and to comfort the heart-broken May when the boy was arrested. Their relationship evolved into love, and they enjoyed a happily married life. When Ben's younger brother Richard Parker and his wife Mary were killed in a plane crash, Ben and May took in their orphaned son Peter and raised him as their own.
Ben was very protective of Peter, going as far as fighting some of the bullies that tormented young Parker. Peter became friends with Charlie Weiderman in high school, a teen even more unpopular than he was. However, Charlie often provoked the trouble with the other teens. One day, he was chased to the Parker home by a group of bullies led by Rich and Ben intervened. Ben told them that if they wanted Charlie, they would have to go through him. Rich tried to, but was surprised by Ben's army training. As soon as the bullies were gone, he told the boy that he was not welcome at the house or with Peter because of his provoking the bullies and not being able to tell the truth.
In high school, a radioactive spider bite gave Peter superhuman powers. Creating the costumed identity of Spider-Man for himself, Peter sought first to exploit his newfound powers as a masked wrestler and then as a television star. Coming from a television appearance, Spider-Man saw a burglar being chased by a security guard. The guard called for Spider-Man to stop the thief, but the nascent Spidey refused on the grounds that catching criminals was not his job. The robber got away.
When Peter later returned home, he was informed by a police officer that his beloved Uncle Ben had been killed by a burglar. Outraged, he donned his Spider-Man costume and captured the man only to realize to his horror that it was the same burglar whom he could have effortlessly captured earlier at the studio. As a result, Peter considered himself morally responsible for Ben's death and resolved to fight crime as a superhero — realizing that with great power comes great responsibility — and vowing never to let another innocent person come to harm if he could help it.
Ben Parker's death was truly avenged when the burglar returned for the money once more, threatening Aunt May. The burglar died from a heart attack upon beholding his old nemesis Spider-Man once again and learning that Spider-Man and Peter Parker were one and the same person.
In Amazing Spider-Man Family #7, May relates to Peter her account of meeting Ben for the first time.
Ben briefly appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #500; after Spider-Man played a vital role in preventing the resurrection of Dormammu, an unidentified higher power provided Doctor Strange with a small box that he felt he had to give to Spider-Man as a reward for his role in events. When Peter opened the box on the roof of his apartment building, it contained a note saying "You have five minutes. Spend them as you will", followed by Ben appearing on the roof. It was revealed that this Ben- whether a ghost or Ben having been temporally relocated from the moment before his death-, remembered being out for the walk that resulted in him getting shot but nothing afterwards, although he concluded that the events leading to him being on that roof were not important. In their talk Ben said that the only thing that would disappoint him about Peter is if Peter ever settled for less because he was afraid of reaching for more. This helps Peter to see that he had a good life for all its hardships, recognizing that he has always used what he has, and Ben assures Peter that he is proud of him before he vanishes.
During the 2008–2009 "Dark Reign" storyline, Uncle Ben makes an appearance in the Underworld when Hercules attends the trial of Zeus, directing Amadeus Cho as he attempted to find his parents in the afterlife. In the "Amazing Grace" storyline, Ben appears as an apparition to Spider-Man while battling a horde of demons and gargoyles, telling him that his death is not Peter's or anyone's fault. However, one enemy notices him and attacked only to disappear. This left Spider-Man puzzled if he was imagining Ben or he was really talking to a his ghost.
None of the characters' last names were revealed. The story did not become canon because of its negative reception.[volume & issue needed]
In this alternate reality, a young Ben Parker is working as a military policeman. He is assigned to security for Doctor Erskine, a scientist for the Captain America program. An assassination attempt on Erskine succeeds, killing Ben in the process. Later on, May still attempts to raise Peter on her own, but without the influence of Ben, Peter grows up to be angry, cynical and mean-spirited, going on to become the Hulk of this reality when he sneaks onto the test site that Rick Jones sneaked onto in the original version of events.
House of M
In the House of M reality, Ben Parker is alive and, like the rest of the world, is aware that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. After recovering Peter's journal, with entries detailing that the world is not how it should be, Ben discovers that he is killed shortly after Peter gains his powers. He later helps Peter fake his death, photographing Spider-Man apparently hanging himself.
In the Marvel Noir reality, Ben Parker is a social activist who was murdered by Norman Osborne's enforcers. He had previously been a decorated veteran of World War I, but he did not take pride in his service, believing that no just cause was fought for. His nephew Peter dons his old aviator uniform and wields his service revolver during his activities as Spider-Man.
- A version of Peter Parker named Patton Parnell lives with his abusive Uncle Ted on an unknown Earth. After the bite of an irradiated spider mutates him into an arachnid monstrosity, Patton infects his Uncle Ted with his offspring while declaring he taught him that "With great power comes a great appetite".
- An alternate Uncle Ben from an unknown reality appears in a flashback along with the version's Aunt May. In this reality they are portrayed as scientists. They informed Peni Parker that she was the only person able to carry on the project (after her father, the original SP//dr, died in battle), and accepted the responsibly, allowing the radioactive spider that formed the other half of SP//dr's CPU to bite her.
- In an unknown reality, Uncle Ben and Aunt May are with their nephew Peter at the hospital after suffering a serious allergic reaction to a spider bite leaving him in a coma while their house is burgled. Peter was transformed into Man-Spider and proceeded to attack Uncle Ben and Aunt May, but was thwarted by Spider-Man Noir. Six-Armed Spider-Man would later create a cure for Peter, reflecting that, in at least one reality, the Parker family has a happy ending.
- The Earth-3145 version of Ben Parker was isolated in Ezekiel's bunker after Earth is decimated by nuclear fallout. Ben is later found by Silk, Spider-Man and the other Spider-Men when arrive so as to escape the Inheritors. He reveals that he received his powers when he accompanied Peter to the science demonstration that saw Peter being bitten by the spider, deciding to use his powers to help others despite Peter suggesting he go into show business. Ben Parker retired out of grief after his foe the Emerald Elf discovered his identity and killed his wife and nephew. After being hidden in Ezekiel's bunker upon being told about the Inheritors, his Earth was decimated when a nuclear blackmail plot by Otto Octavius went wrong after Octavius' demands were met. Although he initially declines to join the other Spiders in their final attack on the Inheritors, Spider-Man and Superior Spider-Man convince him to do so by arguing that he has only failed if he gives up, Peter in particular affirming that the advice of his own Uncle Ben has saved his world and made a difference every day. He subsequently works with Spider-Ham to rescue Benjy Parker - the baby brother of Spider-Girl and one of the three sacrifices the Inheritors seek to destroy the web of spider-totems for good - and take him to another dimension for safety. When the crisis is concluded, with nothing to return to on his world, Ben accompanies Spider-Girl back to her home dimension, where her mother and boyfriend survived, and decides to remain so that he can be the grandfather that no other Ben Parker has had the chance to become.
Ben Parker in Ultimate Spider-Man differs slightly from the original Ben Parker. In the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, Ben Parker is younger than his original counterpart. He is also a former hippie who wears his hair in a ponytail and teaches Peter to be nonviolent. Ben also reminisces about the period he lived on a commune. After Peter Parker went out for a walk, he came home and learned from a police officer that Uncle Ben was murdered. Uncle Ben is seen one last time meeting Peter in the afterlife after his death.
Uncle Ben was featured in various issues of What If.
- In one reality where May was killed by the burglar instead of Ben, Peter immediately went after the burglar, but accidentally pushed him out of the window of a warehouse during the fight, resulting in Ben taking the blame for the crime to save his nephew. Lacking the moral influence of Ben or the need to stay secret for his aunt, Peter broke out of the orphanage he was sent to and began to defeat criminals for the reward money, matters coming to a head when he nearly killed the Green Goblin in a fight. Attempting to break Ben out of prison, Ben nevertheless convinced him that he had to accept responsibility for his actions, prompting Peter to return to school and form a relationship with Mary Jane after Anna Watson took him in, culminating in Ben helping Peter in his crime-fighting activities after he was released from prison.[volume & issue needed]
- In the first "What If" story regarding Spider-Man (named "classic"), it was Aunt May who went downstairs after hearing a noise, not wanting to wake up Ben. The same storyline plays out, with the burglar shooting May and Spider-Man apprehending him in the warehouse. In this story, Ben finds out about Peter's activities as Spider-Man relatively soon, and talks to him about it. Peter explains to him when he donned the costume and why, even telling him about letting the would-be murderer go that very same night he robbed the wrestling register. Peter breaks down, saying how everything was his fault. Ben responds with anger at himself, being weak in not being able to protect "his May". After Peter tells him he did not know and could not have possibly done anything, Ben instantly calms down and tells Peter to follow his own advice. He further inspires Peter to keep being Spider-Man, not because of regret or penance, but to protect and help all those who are weak and in need of help. Ben and Peter form an even closer relationship with Ben offering his support in many of Spider-Man's future battles. Eventually Ben becomes outraged at Jameson's constant smearing of Spider-Man's name, considering it an insult to May's memory. He eventually lets Jameson in on Spider-Man's identity, forcing Jameson in a position he is uncomfortable in as a journalist. He cannot expose Spider-Man without endangering Ben Parker, yet he also does not wish to support vigilantism. Eventually, he finds a middle road and unofficially employs Spider-Man so he can gain inside scoops on crimes being solved in the city. The story eventually ends with Spider-Man saving Bennett Brant and Betty Brant from Doctor Octopus, as well as fighting a Green Goblin who kidnapped Jameson to find out Spider-Man's real identity (having correctly surmised there was a reason Jameson had those inside scoops). At the end of it all, Peter and Ben shake hands with Ben saying they will face all dangers and the future together.
Derailed Alt-Ben Parker
In an alternate reality shown in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, an alternate reality was witnessed where May died in a random accident, prompting Peter to go into show business with Ben as his agent to make money. However, Peter's focus on his career with no reason to go into crime-fighting- his would-be enemies being dealt with by the likes of Thor- prompts him to eventually leave home, simply paying Ben a percentage out of respect for their old relationship rather than any actual concern. This Ben was eventually 'derailed' into the 616 reality by the Hobgoblin of 2211 as part of her plan against the Spider-Men of various eras, leaving him shocked when he witnessed his destroyed house and the still-living May Parker. Confronting her, he ended up in a fight with Jarvis, with whom she at the time has a relationship with, but wandered away in confusion. Lacking direction, Ben wandered into an alleyway where he encountered a shadowy figure who offered him a gun, telling Ben that any action he takes would simply create another universe where he took the opposite action, so he might as well do what felt good. After this Hobgoblin was erased from history by a Retcon Bomb of her own invention, the Spider-Man of 2211 met with what he presumed to be the same Ben Parker to take him back to his own timeline. In a surprise twist, deciding he rather wanted to "stick around for a while", this Ben Parker shot this future Spider-Man. At the same time, another Ben Parker was shown dead in the alley, meaning one Ben Parker had killed the other and taken his place.
It was revealed that the Ben Parker who had died in the alleyway was the Uncle Ben of the alternate reality, while the Ben Parker who killed Spider-Man 2211 was, in fact, the Chameleon of 2211; the Chameleon had attempted to convince Ben to resort to murder, but Spider-Man correctly guessed that there were no circumstances under which Ben would do such a thing.[volume & issue needed]
"With great power comes great responsibility"
The thematic and often-quoted (including by the Supreme Court of the United States) Spider-Man phrase with great power comes great responsibility is widely attributed to Uncle Ben. However, in Amazing Fantasy #15, where it first appears, it is not spoken by any character. In fact, Ben has only two lines in the entire comic. The original version of the phrase appears in a narrative caption of the comic's last panel, rather than as spoken dialogue. It reads, "...with great power there must also come -- great responsibility!".
However, later stories and flashbacks that took place when Ben was still alive retroactively made the phrase one of Ben's many homilies he would lecture Peter with. Latter-day reinterpretations of Spider-Man, such as the Spider-Man film and the Ultimate Spider-Man comic, depict Ben as saying this phrase to Peter while he is still alive, in their last conversation. Both the aforementioned adaptations also had Peter lash out at Ben just after he says it, and both also mention his father.
The origins of the phrase pre-date its use in Spider-Man. In 1906, Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office Winston Churchill said, "Where there is great power there is great responsibility" In 1817, member of British parliament William Lamb is recorded saying, "the possession of great power necessarily implies great responsibility," even indicating that it was already a cultural maxim invoked toward government at the time. The sentiment is also attributed to Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of Luke, "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required."[Luke 12:48]
In other media
- Uncle Ben appeared in the 1960s Spider-Man television series. He appeared in the episode "The Origin of Spider-Man".
- Uncle Ben is mentioned in the 1980s Spider-Man television series. In the episode "Arsenic and Aunt May", the Chameleon (after meeting the relative of the Burglar) escapes from prison and poses as a medium while using technology to make Aunt May seemingly see Ben's ghost.
- Uncle Ben appeared in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, voiced by Frank Walker. He appeared in the episode "Along Came Spidey".
- Uncle Ben appeared in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, voiced by Brian Keith (in "The Menace of Mysterio", "The Mutant Agenda" and the "Spider Wars" series finale). He appeared in the series as a spirit or seen in flashbacks talking to Peter Parker whenever his nephew gets frustrated the tough choices as Spider-Man. In the series finale when Spider-Man had to stop Spider-Carnage from destroying all reality, Spider-Man managed to make contact with an alternate reality of his uncle in a world where Peter Parker was a successful industrialist; realizing that Peter's counterpart in this reality had never failed or had any difficulties in life due to his casual attitude towards the crisis as opposed to Spider-Man or the other counterparts, Peter realized that Ben was almost certainly still alive in this reality if he was alive in any alternate timeline. Thanks to Ben's influence, Spider-Carnage was convinced to stop trying to destroy reality. After Spider-Carnage instead used the reality bomb to create a portal and subsequently committed suicide by entering the portal to end the threat once and for all, Spider-Man and Ben hugged; although they lived in different realities, Ben was proud of his different reality nephew while Spider-Man assured Ben that he will always have him in his own heart.
- In Spider-Man Unlimited, Uncle Ben is briefly mentioned in the pilot episode "Worlds Apart" [Part One]. He is also seen in the theme song which Uncle Ben was killed.
- Uncle Ben appears in The Spectacular Spider-Man, voiced by Edward Asner. His character remains faithful to the comics. He is featured in Spider-Man's flashback in the episode "Intervention" revealed that Ben was killed while defending May Parker during a break-in at their house by a burglar that Peter Parker selfishly let go earlier that day. After Peter discovered that Ben was murdered by a burglar who broke into the Parker house and stole Ben's car, Peter furiously sought revenge, donning the Spider-Man costume and confronting the burglar in an old warehouse. Spider-Man unmasked his uncle's killer, realizing that it was the same burglar from earlier. After knocking the criminal out and lowered to policeman via web line, Peter vowed to use these spider powers for good and to never put himself before anyone else and to never to let another innocent person come to harm if anything could help it, and remembering his uncle's words: 'With great power there must also come great responsibility'.
- Uncle Ben is featured in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon series, voiced by Greg Grunberg (in "Strange"), and by Clancy Brown (in "Return to the Spider-Verse" [Pt. 2]). His character is loosely based on his Ultimate Counterpart as opposed to his previous versions. In the pilot episodes "Great Power" and "Great Responsibility", Peter Parker recalled that fateful night of his uncle's murder and Nick Fury uses Ben's memory to join S.H.I.E.L.D. instead of being solo. A picture of Ben is also seen having fun with May Parker and their young nephew. Ben is personally featured in the episode "Strange Days". Nightmare tries to use Spider-Man's failure being unable to save his uncle's life, however, this does not work; Ben actually motivates Peter to defeat Nightmare (something neither Iron Fist nor Doctor Strange was able to do). In the episode "Ultimate Deadpool", Spider-Man remembers his uncle's memory when thinking about Deadpool's own demons. The character is occasionally referenced in Ultimate Spider-Man vs. The Sinister Six primarily as May's source of Ben Reilly's name while a Wild West reality version is depicted as the "Phantom Rider" and Webslinger the Spider Cowboy's uncle. The episode "Return to the Spider-Verse" [Pt. 2] features the Phantom Rider as Doc Ock Holliday's brainwashed Deputy. Under Doc Ock Holiday's servitude, the Phantom Rider helped repelled Wolf Spider and later fought both Spider-Man and Kid Arachnid. Although unaffected by Kid Arachnid's venom blasts, Spider-Man and Webslinger eventually were able to defeat Doc Ock Holliday, thus Ben was freed from the brainwashing and remanded Doc Ock Holliday to the hoosegow while reclaiming his Sheriff title. As Ben and Webslinger are reunited, Spider-Man gets a final look at the Sheriff before departing to the next reality, quietly hopeful that one reality has Ben still alive.
|This section needs to be updated. (August 2014)|
- In the Spider-Man film series, Ben Parker is portrayed by Cliff Robertson and his character remains relatively faithful to the comics, including his being shot by a criminal Peter failed to stop (although in the comics he was shot trying to defend May during a break in at their house and in the film he was shot during a carjacking).
- He appeared in the first film as a father figure for Peter. The amiable Ben is laid off from his job as a chief electrician after 35 years and worries about his nephew's strange behavior. His words of wisdom ('With great power comes great responsibility') eventually inspire Peter to become Spider-Man. Losing his temper during this speech, Peter tells him to stop acting like his father, hurting his feelings badly. Later that night, Ben is apparently shot dead by a thief, Dennis Carradine, whom Peter refused to stop when he was cheated out of his money. Peter and his aunt greatly mourn his death, particularly Peter, who is haunted by the fact that he could have stopped Carradine and saved his uncle. By the end of the film, Peter has accepted Ben as the father figure of his childhood.
- The second film features a sequence where Peter contemplates giving up his Spider-Man identity to Ben who, in the flashback, is a physical representation of the entity and ideology of Spider-Man, encouraging Peter to continue on as a superhero. Also, Peter admits the truth surrounding Uncle Ben's death to Aunt May. She is shocked and upset at first, but later commends Peter for telling her the truth.
- Robertson reprises his role in a flashback scene (as well as a dream sequence) in the third film. In the film, Captain George Stacy tells Peter and Aunt May of new evidence that suggests Carradine was only an accomplice of Flint Marko, who was Uncle Ben's real killer; Peter then imagines Marko throwing Ben out of the car and gunning him down in cold blood while Carradine desperately tries to stop Marko before driving off. Robertson appears again at the end of the film during a more accurate flashback, as Marko explains to Peter that he only wanted Ben's car, since Marko needed to steal money to help his critically ill daughter Penny. However, Carradine startled Marko and caused him to accidentally pull the trigger when Ben was trying to reason with him. This somewhat shocked Marko, as he feels extremely remorseful for killing Ben. Realizing how desperate Marko is to help his own daughter and understanding the importance of forgiveness over revenge, Spider-Man forgives Marko and allows him to go free.
- Martin Sheen portrays Uncle Ben in the 2012 film The Amazing Spider-Man. Though his character still remains faithful to the comics, the manner of his murder is drastically different. Following an argument with Peter which results in Peter storming out, Ben leaves to find his nephew and encounters a thief who has just raided a grocery store where Peter was shopping but who Peter refused to stop when he did not provide enough money to pay for a drink. The thief trips over and drops his gun. Ben tries to get the gun first, but a struggle ensues and Ben is killed. Unlike the comics, Ben's killer remains at large.
- Uncle Ben is mentioned in the first 3 missions, "Search for Justice," "Warehouse Hunt," and "Birth of a Hero" in the 2002 Spider-Man video game, as Peter Parker attempts to track down Ben's killer.
- Uncle Ben is briefly mentioned at the end of Spider-Man 3.
- Uncle Ben's Noir version is mentioned by Spider-Man Noir in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions when going after the Vulture (that universe's killer of Uncle Ben).
- Uncle Ben makes an appearance in the prologue of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, voiced by Mark Bramhall. The tutorial starts off showing the event that lead to his death. After that, he is referenced throughout the game by Peter Parker, Aunt May, and Stan. Around the end of the game, Stan tells Peter that Ben would've wanted him to grow up to be the man that he wanted Peter to be.
Franklin Richards' Uncle Ben
Franklin Richards of the Fantastic Four often refers to Benjamin Grimm, the Thing, as "Uncle Ben" (Grimm is the best friend of Franklin's father Reed Richards). Franklin Richards and Peter Parker also have the same middle name, Benjamin, as the Thing and Ben Parker are their namesakes. Spider-Man is aware of this, and told Franklin, "Uncle Bens are always right."
Son of Spider-Man
In The Amazing Spider-Man #498-500, Spider-Man falls through time, encountering all of his enemies from the past, and sees himself in the future. The future Peter Parker tells him that he should tell Mary Jane Watson and their son that he loves them every day. "Our son is called Ben", he says, "but it would pretty much have to be, wouldn't it?" However, because of the way time-travel in the Marvel universe works, it should be noted that this is only a potential future, not necessarily a definite one (This future being even more unlikely after the events of One More Day).
The Other Uncle Ben
Like her father, Spider-Girl also has an Uncle Ben. However, unlike her dad, May never knew her uncle: Ben Reilly, Spider-Man's clone. If Spider-Girl has any children in the future, they too would have an Uncle Ben - May's baby brother. Ironically in aftermath of Spider-Verse, the Earth-3145's Ben Parker himself stay on her world, and has a chance for his live to be his grandfather, something that other Ben Parker unable to achieved so.
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