How Peter Failed to Become the New Tony Stark in the Comics

Despite their connection in the MCU, Peter Parker tried and failed responsibly to be the tech wiz, Avengers funding philanthropist that was Tony Stark

While Spider-Man has gone through many phases in his personal and superhero career, one of the most interesting was his attempt, and ultimately failure, at becoming the new Iron Man. Peter’s Parker Industries made him a global name with his personal bodyguard Spider-Man already drawing connections to Stark and his red and gold alter-ego. Despite their similar intelligence, experience, and power, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man’s attempt to be the next Iron Man failed, not due to alcohol or personal demons, but because his sense of responsibility is so extreme.

In writer Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man run, Peter, while still controlled by Otto Octvavius’ consciousness, founded Parker Industries and gained prominence by helping authorities deal with the occasional Spider-Man enemies. The mentally returned Peter continued where Otto left off, refusing to accept defeat even after the destruction of the original Parker Industries building. With the help of signature products such as the smartwatch “Webware”, Parker Industries grew into a global conglomerate, a technology company specializing in aerospace, security, and defense who not only supplied technology to SHIELD but whose mascot, Spider-Man, took care of threats. Peter wasn’t afraid to employ both friends and former enemies with dozens of buildings worldwide and thousands of employees, even offering to fund and provide the latest Avengers with a headquarters.

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Already considered by some to be a poor man’s Tony Stark, Peter gets a pep talk from Tony himself who advises him of the dangers of using a company to support a superhero lifestyle, citing examples of Spider-Man’s recent battle with the criminal terrorist organization Zodiac and the recent malfunctions seen in his Webware and how much that’s cost him. Peter’s moral compass and decisions as Spider-Man began to have further ramifications upon his company as Spider-Man’s victories began to stretch Peter’s focus too thin. Despite his inner circle working around the clock to handle the negative PR, Peter’s biggest problem eventually emerged with the return of Otto Octavius. Spider-Man confronted his old enemy who revealed that his new allegiance with Hydra enabled his attack and infiltration of Parker Industries, hoping to reclaim the company that he technically helped create.

Throughout this section of Dan Slott’s iconic Amazing Spider-Man run, we see Peter Parker living his best life even though he knew it wouldn’t last forever. Peter’s dedication to responsibility as Spider-Man constantly ranked as the priority over others and that would lead to Parker Industries’ inevitable ruin. “The Clone Conspiracy” hurt the reliability of his Webware, “The Osborn Identity” severed his company’s relationship with SHIELD, and the tie-in with Secret Empire revealed Otto Octavius had been manipulating everything from the beginning. Faced with the reality that his company’s success was engineered and Hydra sought to use its resources for its own purposes, Peter could not allow his company to fall into evil hands. Feeling responsible for everything, he ordered his loyal employees to destroy all operating systems and released a computer worm that destroyed all existing research and programs.

Although Peter’s decision prevented Doctor Octopus’ victory, his actions destroyed the hard work of thousands of now-unemployed people and left his company and his future reputation in shambles.  His sense of responsibility has been considered a symbol of strength but here, his extreme dedication to it saw him willing to sacrifice everything to do the right thing and damn the consequences. As if reality wasn’t bad enough, both of them had to endure the jokes, comments, and anger from those affected, unaware of Peter’s real reasons and ironically considering him irresponsible. Just like in the MCU, Peter Parker was never meant to be the next Iron Man, despite his best efforts, he was always Spider-Man, constantly working through impossible odds to do the right thing regardless of what effect it’ll have on his life.

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