Spider-Man Star Says Superhero Is a 'Neurotic, Self-doubting' Jew

Half-Jewish actor Andrew Garfield says the man under the mask is Jewish - or maybe he's Jesus.

Actor Andrew Garfield at world film premiere for 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' in London, April 10,2014
Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield encounters a man wearing a Spider-Man mask as he arrives at the world film premiere of 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' in London on April 10. AFP

Peter Parker, that boy from Queens who has a thing for spiders, is a neurotic Jew – or maybe he's Jesus, says Andrew Garfield, the half-Jewish actor who plays Spidey in "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."

"Spider-Man is neurotic," Garfield, a U.S.-British actor who was brought up Jewish, told Time Out. "He never feels like he's doing enough. And Peter suffers from self-doubt. He ums and ahs about his future because he's neurotic. He's Jewish. It's a defining feature."

"Peter Parker is not a simple dude," said Garfield. "He can't just switch off."

Garfield said the generalizations apply to himself as well, adding: "I hope Jewish people won't mind the cliché, because my father's Jewish. I have that in me for sure."

But wait a second. Spidey might not be your run-of-the-mill Jewish boy. The "overthinker," adds the actor, might just be the Jew who became the Christian messiah.

"He is misunderstood, like Jesus," says Garfield. "I don't mind the Jesus parallel for Spider-Man. Jesus is an awesome guy. When Pontius Pilate said: 'They say you're the son of God. If you're the son of God tell me,' Jesus was like: 'I know who I am, bitch.'"

Backtracking a bit, Garfield says Peter Parker isn't quite as secure in his identity as that "awesome guy" who was nailed to a cross.

"Peter is not that evolved," Garfield told Time Out. "Peter wants to tell the world he's a good guy: 'Like me, I'm nice.' He's a 19-year-old kid. He's a kid struggling with being misunderstood. We've all been misunderstood. That's universal too. I like being Peter."

Garfield isn't the first to see Jewish overtones to the Spider-Man story.

Others have portrayed it as an allegory for post-World War II Judaism in America, writes The Independent. After all, as the British daily points out, Parker is an angst-ridden orphan who (like many Jews) lives in Forest Hills, Queens, and fights evil by adopting an alter ego, much as some Jews submerged their identities to avoid persecution.