Mageina Tovah as Ursula Ditkovich in Spider-Man 2
(Columbia Pictures)

20 Years On, There’s Still One Character in ‘Spider-Man 2’ I Love Above All Others

Spider-Man 2 celebrates its 20th birthday today (yep, you’re old, sorry) and after all this time it remains my favorite superhero movie ever.

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There have been so many wonderful offerings from both the Marvel and DC universes since Spider-Man 2‘s 2004 release, but none of them occupy a place in my heart the way this movie does. It’s just such a sincere, earnest, human movie.

And you know which character best exemplifies this? The most minor of minor characters, Ursula Ditkovich.

Who’s Ursula Ditkovich?

You might not actually remember Ursula (Mageina Tovah). She doesn’t even get a first name in the film, fans had to rely on the novelization and promo materials to find out what it was. (She properly introduces herself in Spider-Man 3.) She’s the daughter of Peter’s landlord Mr Ditkovich and her life doesn’t seem great. She’s not rich, she lives in a pretty crappy building, and her dad makes fun of how thin she is. But she’s just the loveliest girl.

Ursula has a crush on Peter and watches him from afar with longing in her eyes. Peter, of course, is far too smitten with Mary Jane to pay any attention to her romantically. But Ursula isn’t about to pressure Peter into a date or anything like that—her first priority when it comes to her neighbor is his mental wellbeing.

The chocolate cake scene

So when Peter is at one of his lowest points—in despair at rejecting his Spider-Man identity and having lost MJ to another man—it’s Ursula who shows up to get him back on his feet. She drops by his apartment to give him a message from Aunt May and also to offer him some chocolate cake.

Peter accepts her offer of food and what follows is one of the quietest, sweetest scenes in comic book movie history. Peter eats his cake, Ursula watches with a smile, and then he hands the plate back to her. They smile at each other, Ursula turns to go, and then she remembers the message from May. She hands him a note, Peter says thank you, and that’s it.

When Spider-Man 2 first came out I heard a lot of complaints along the lines of, “What on earth was the point of that scene?” but it’s one of the most important scenes in the movie if you ask me. It reminds Peter what he’s fighting for—ordinary people like Ursula—and reminds the audience that there is kindness in the high-stakes superhero world Spider-Man lives in. Ursula’s action in helping Peter out also adds to the “power and responsibility” theme of Spider-Man. She had the power (however slight) to make someone else’s life a little better, so she did it. And she didn’t expect a reward.

The movie would be so much less without that scene—and Ursula. It’s one of the things that makes the film so much more than your average superhero offering. And did you know, Ursula’s last name is actually a tribute to Steve Ditko, the co-creator of Spider-Man? That’s perfect, because Ursula is a spot-on representation of what Spider-Man is about.

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Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.