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We Finally Know How Spider-Man Got His Powers in The MCU

Spider-Man posing with smoke in the background.

Many superhero movies are origin stories, starting with the hero as an ordinary person and showing audiences how they get their powers. In recent years, though, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has begun introducing many of its characters already superpowered, revealing their origins in flashbacks or choosing not to include backstories at all. The MCU’s Peter Parker, the teenage wall-crawler known as Spider-Man, is one of those characters.

Stylistically, the choice to skip Spidey’s origin story in the MCU makes sense. After all, by the time Marvel struck a deal with Sony to include Peter in the MCU, audiences had already gotten five Spider-Man movies starring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. A third origin story would have been redundant. That hasn’t stopped fans from wondering how Tom Holland’s Spidey got his powers, though, and now, Captain America: Civil War writer Christopher Markus and Spider-Man: No Way Home director Jon Watts have revealed how they think it happened.

In an interview with Comicbook, Markus said, “I mean, God knows there would have to be something not unlike [a radioactive spider bite], probably … But no, I wouldn’t say … I mean, I think he was bitten by a radioactive spider on a field trip. We never talked about that either, but I think that’s what happened.”

A radioactive spider bite is how Peter gets his powers in the original comics. In the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield movies, he’s bitten by a genetically modified spider instead.

Watts went on to explain why Marvel chose to skip over Peter’s origin story. “It was just so nice to skip past it and just deal with more with the repercussions … and just explore it from the perspective of someone else finding out about it and having a lot of questions.”

In Civil War, we’re introduced to Peter when Tony Stark tracks him down and recruits him based on footage Tony has seen of Peter web-slinging around New York. The only reference Peter makes to the spider that bit him in the MCU is when he tells his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) that Ned can’t get superpowers because the spider is dead.

(featured image: Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures)

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Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at