The Heartbreaking Backstory Spider-Man and Other MCU Heroes Share

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been dissected to no end. From religious allegories to political ones, symbolic portrayals of complex themes to jokes that have a deeper meaning, every line of dialogue has been chewed up, spit out, and prescribed meanings beyond what we see on-screen.

Some fans on Reddit dissected the theme of parenthood. Looking at several of the universe’s most prominent characters, they all have one thing in common — the loss of parents. 

Parents in the MCU

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THE MCU is not devoid of parents. After all, Thor’s relationship with his father, Odin, helps make him into the god of thunder and Gamora’s tendencies for violence are a not-so-subtle nod to the destructive man who helped raise her.

However, many of the series’ superheroes are set off by either being orphaned at an early age, losing their parents later on, or never knowing where they came from.

Speaking on parents’ roles inside the MCU, Reddit user u/NoTaCaiLiN broke down the shattered familial bond of many of the most notable characters. 

“Tony died when Morgan was still really young… Scott was in prison and stuck in the Quantum realm while Cassie was a child… Hank left Hope and Janet was stuck in the quantum realm… Peter Parker’s parents died when he was really young… Peter Quill’s mom died when he was young and his dad was an evil jackass that was never around… Wanda and Pietro’s parents died when they were young… Ultron died the day Vision was born.”

It’s something to get people thinking about the role they play not just in the MCU but as characters in a universe that serves many of the same purposes of past stories that children grew up hearing. 

A literary trend

The orphan rising from obscurity and the depths of despair is nothing new in storytelling. As long as there have been stories on the subject of triumph, there have been orphans, abandoned children, and worlds that did not want them to succeed. 

User u/AceyAceyAcey elaborated on the historical significance. 

“Being an orphan is a pretty common trope, especially in heroic story arcs, as it’s used to show the hero overcoming something. If someone’s gotta die, I personally prefer orphaning them rather than fridging their wife/girlfriend — though if we had more female characters, fridging their boyfriend/husband might be an interesting change.”

It’s true, everyone from Snow White to Cinderella to Jesus Christ and Hercules has some parental disposition driving them to do whatever they do in stories, myths, and legends throughout time.

Aside from those mentioned by the original poster, Black Panther’s on-screen tale begins with the death of his father in Civil War, Baby Groot can be viewed as a story of a lost parent. Furthermore, several of the villains are guided by either their parenthood or problems from their childhood. 

What does this mean? 

Tom Holland
Tom Holland | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney

People love an underdog story. Having an orphan rise up from the ashes to defeat whatever evil presence is holding society back offers a compelling and believable look into the humanity that drives them. Heroes are often born of the adversity that precedes their turn, and having the parents out of the picture shows that there’s still a path to light from the darkness. 

As all of these users noted, the themes of loss will only get bigger as the characters grapple with The Blip. From Morgan Stark’s life without her father to Cassie Lang’s life without a father during her teenage years after already losing so many years to his prison sentence.

For the younger generation, this could help lead a new generation of Avengers who not only expand the legacy of their parents but learn from what happened while they were all away.