Nu, of course Spider-Man is Jewish, says Andrew Garfield, the latest actor to play the character in the new blockbuster “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
“He hems and haws about his future because he’s neurotic. He’s Jewish,” Garfield said in an interview with Time Out ahead of the film’s opening this week. “It’s a defining feature. He’s an over-thinker.”
UK-raised actor Garfield, 30, ought to know, because his father is Jewish and he was raised in the faith. “I hope Jewish people won’t mind the [neurotic] cliché, because my father’s Jewish. I have that in me for sure.”
“Peter Parker is not a simple dude,” he added. “He can’t just switch off. He never feels like he’s doing enough. And Peter suffers from self-doubt.”
Garfield’s take will come as no surprise to Times of Israel readers. As our film critic Jordan Hoffman mused in 2012, when Garfield first played the role: “On paper at least, Peter Parker, the teenage science whiz-turned-superhero and principal character in the Marvel Universe, is a non-specific American Protestant of vague Anglo descent. Anyone who has an ear for these things, however, can tell you that Spidey’s as Jewish as Tevye.”
“Created by Jewish-American Stan Lee (nee Lieber) in 1962, Spider-Man is considered to be the character most likely to be Lee’s alter ego. Prior to getting his superpowers, Peter Parker is a bit of a nebbish, often bullied by the blond jock Flash Thompson. He is a ‘good, smart boy’ living with his aunt and uncle in Forest Hills, Queens, a neighborhood that had and still has one of the largest Jewish communities in New York…
“One could argue that Spider-Man, a representative of the second generation of comics (known as the Silver Age), embodies the first generation of post-war Jewish-Americans. His parents are simply gone (symbolically, in a wiped-out Europe?) in contrast to the classic ‘Is He Jewish?’ character from the earlier Golden Age, Superman, who himself had to actively leave his homeworld behind as it self-destructed.
“More important, perhaps, is the evidence right there on the page. Peter Parker doesn’t just sling webs, he slings zing. The Parker patter, as written by Stan Lee and other legendary Jewish writers like Brian Michael Bendis and Peter David, is an endless stream of yiddishe schtick that livens up the action.”
Hoffman also asked Israeli “Amazing Spider-Man” producer Avi Arad about the superhero’s Jewish credentials. Said Arad, “To me, when Stan Lee, excuse me, Stanley Lieber, puts the family in Forest Hills, this is a first sign. These are practically shtetl Jews living in Queens.
“You look at Aunt May — she is tough as anything, tough as nails. She is a defender of the family. Uncle Ben thinks he is the protector but all she needs is ‘You, you go in the basement, sweep out the garbage.’ This is like a shtetl play.”