While watching “The Amazing Spider-Man,” I was struck by how much Andrew Garfield-as-Spidey – or rather, his alter-ego, Peter Parker – reminded me of the kind of gangly geeky-cute guys you’d develop a crush on at Jewish summer camp.
And that casting perhaps makes sense, given that Peter Parker is Jewish, speculates Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, author of “Up, Up and Oy Vey: How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero.”
Weinstein, of course, mentions that Spider-Man’s comic book creator, Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber) is Jewish, and that the character in his opinion personifies the Jewish values of “responsibility and redemption.” “Peter Parker’s a nerd who grew up in Forest Hills, his middle name is Benjamin and he’s motivated by guilt…I see a connection,” Weinstein told Israel National News.
“Just like generations of Jews, his ancestors were wiped away (the character’s Uncle Ben was murdered by a mugger) and whether they had powers or not, they couldn’t do anything to stop it. The theme of Jewish guilt runs as a powerful undercurrent,” he said.
Garfield perhaps can relate. “I feel like I have a really big guilt complex and that if I’m not doing any kind of good then there’s no real reason for being,” the 28-year-old actor said in an interview with IndieLondon. That complex comes from “being Jewish,” he said. “And yes, I’m sure it stems from being privileged. I was brought up in a middle class home. I went to private school. And I was always very aware of me not earning that. I got a very good lot in life.”
Garfield is now using his celebrity superpowers to work toward the greater good: He’s currently the ambassador of sport for the Worldwide Orphans Foundation.
Our mitzvah senses are tingling!
“The Amazing Spider-Man” opens July 3
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