Peter Parker used to struggle to pay the rent, and many people can relate to the superhero's precarious housing situation over the years.
Parker’s ongoing struggles with making the rent and the gig economy-style work he takes on to make it — from food delivery to freelancing — could explain why he’s so much more likable than the typical billionaire superhero. But as film blogger Cameron Carpenter has pointed out, Peter Parker has conspicuously become richer over time, a phenomenon he calls the “gentrification of Spider-Man.” The Marc Webb films starring Andrew Garfield ignore financial woes altogether, and by Homecoming, Parker reaps the benefits of billionaire patron Tony Stark. Tellingly, Homecoming’s yuppie Aunt May is depicted as having an apartment in Astoria—a gentrifying neighborhood—complete with stainless steel appliances.
Is a Peter Parker who doesn’t struggle with urban problems still Spider-Man? On the one hand, the recent reboot leans heavier into more universal themes like the awkwardness of young love. On the other hand, we’re seeing a smart shift toward greater diversity with characters like Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), reflecting the changing demographics of urban America.