We all know the classic Spider-man line, “With great power comes great responsibility;” but when was this phrase first said – and by whom?
No doubt, many of you are likely screaming at your screens as you read this, saying that it was within the final panel on the final page of Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy 15‘s Spider-Man story – the premier of Marvel’s poster boy, Spider-man. And you’d be right.
NOT SAID BY UNCLE BEN
Despite what many have come to believe over the years, this famous phrase was not said by Peter’s Uncle Ben. Instead, it was said by Stan Lee (as the narrator of this first comic appearance book).
And the line is actually a lot longer too!
“And a lean, silent figure slowly fades into the gathering darkness, Aware at last that in this world, with Great Power there must also come — Great Responsibility!“
NOT SO ORIGINAL
So, was this an original piece thought up and written by Stan Lee? Maybe, but there is no denying that several earlier documents say something very similar. Here are two examples:
Winston Churchill once said: “Where there is great power, there is a great responsibility.”The Amazing Spider-Man #274, that we hear these words from Uncle Ben.And the Christian Bible has the following passage: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded. And from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.“ So, if it was Stan Lee (as the narrator) who first said this now iconic phrase, then why is it so strongly linked in reference to Uncle Ben? When did he say it? It was actually decades later, in
To be honest, even that is not entirely true! Because even in this issue, it is not technically Uncle Ben but instead a hallucination.
“After all, I’m the one who helped show you that with great power, there must also come great responsibility!”
So, was this actually something Uncle Ben ever said to Peter, or is it simply something Peter has learned for himself over time? Well, we get our answer to that in the Spider-man vs Wolverine one-shot comic from 1987, where we see Peter say the following.
“Its none of my business, it’s not my problem. But, I can’t help remembering my Uncle Ben’s words
– With great power… comes great responsibility.“
Is this considered cannon to the Spider-man mythos? Is this one-shot officially a part of the Amazing Spider-Man run? I honestly don’t know. But it is part of my personal collection of Spider-man books nevertheless.
It seems strange right? That a comic run that started in the ’60s (1962) with such a prominent message and phrase, never actually happened the way we thought it did until decades later (in 1987).
But there is another, earlier source out there! Something that confirms uncle Ben being the original source of this message to peter: A Spider-Man Vinyl Record Audiobook.
In 1972, there was an Amazing Spider-Man Rock Comic that was released on vinyl record and it has the following moment in it: “What was it Uncle Ben used to tell me? I remember. He used to say: Petey, never forget. The stronger the man, the heavier the load. With great power comes great responsibility.”
This, to be fair, likely isn’t considered canon, as it is a completely different medium from the original story and run. But it is still an interesting part of Spidey’s history nonetheless.Did you realize it took this long for this famous phrase to be directly tied to Uncle Ben? It seems so crazy to me that something so engraved in pop culture is remembered so incorrectly.
Ben said it in one of the early spidey movies too, as he was dying