The Funny Reason Stan Lee Made Spider-Man An Orphan, According To Marc Webb

Stan Lee Avengers 2 cameo

When we spoke with director Jon Watts last year on the set of Spider-Man: Homecoming, he mentioned that the best piece of advice he received from Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb was the instruction to schedule a lunch with Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee. Naturally, this made us curious about Webb's own experience with the comic book legend... I was actually lucky enough to learn about this meal when I recently had the opportunity to speak with Webb. Not only does he have an incredible amount of respect for Lee, but also got the funny answer as to why Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man was written as an orphan. Webb told me,

He's the smartest man. He's legitimately brilliant -- I mean talk about gifted. He's a storytelling master obviously, a master of character. He plays this kind of funny, goofy guy, but when you get into the real nitty-gritty of storytelling, he has an incredibly sophisticated understanding of how to put a story together. I remember asking him, I was like, 'I'm gonna have a couple questions.' My big question for him was why are all superheroes orphans. You know, Spider-Man, Superman, Harry Potter... they're all orphans! And he sat and thought about it, he's like, 'I don't know!' 'Well why did you make Peter Parker an orphan?' And he said, 'I didn't think about it much. I just wanted to get him out of the house!'

Marc Webb's newest film, Gifted, is arriving in theaters on Friday, and I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with the director about the project earlier this week. It was at the very end of our chat that I brought up his advice to Jon Watts and his own lunch with Stan Lee -- and not only did I get a funny story out of it, but also some surprising insight into the mind of one of the greatest pop culture creatives in history.

When taken purely at face value, Stan Lee's comments may seem weirdly funny and dismissive, but it did legitimately spark a thought in Marc Webb's mind. What Lee was really driving at is just the importance of having a natural and organic foundation for character, because every plot he or she encounters is going to somehow evolve from it (and considering the thousands of Spider-Man stories out there, it clearly worked out rather well). Said Webb,

I thought that was such an interesting insight, in how you formulate stories. You have to create situations that allow the story to happen without being too obvious about it, and I think he's a real genius at that. He's a really vibrant man, and I really admire him.

Obviously Marc Webb is not the only admirer of Stan Lee's. The man is credited for co-creating many of the greatest superhero characters of all time, many of whom have perpetuated consistently for nearly a century (and are arguably more popular now than ever before). It's not super hard to see why having the opportunity to sit down and pick his brain would be an amazing experience... which obviously goes a long way in explaining why it was the key piece of advice that Webb gave to Jon Watts.

As noted earlier, Marc Webb's latest feature, Gifted -- which stars Chris Evans, Jenny Slate and Octavia Spencer -- is being given a limited released this Friday, out in select markets courtesy of Fox Searchlight. You can find theaters playing the film on the official website, and stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interview with the director.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.