An age-old question for any superhero is the limitation of their abilities. Spider-Man is not exempt from this line of questioning, as his powers are among the most mysterious of them all. How does he stick to walls? How is he able to sense danger? The most common question though is how strong is Spider-Man? We know from his first appearance in Amazing Fantasy 15 that he, in his own words, has the very strength of a gigantic spider. We also know that he is able to crush a steel pipe as if it were paper. But is there a better way to measure the limits of his strength to something more comparable?
The story from Amazing Spider-Man 32 through 33 titled “Man on a Rampage” may be a good example of his limits. Spider-Man is desperate to recover some stolen serum that is needed to save his aunt May’s life. On the cover of issue 32 and on page 11 we see him rip apart a steel staircase that appeared to have been bolted to the ground. He also picks up and throws a car. A large car may weigh around 4,000 pounds or 2 tons (1,814kg) so we know he is at least that strong. But you probably already knew that, didn’t you? So how strong is Spider-Man when pushed to his limit?
The best indicator comes near the end of issue 33. At he is fighting Doc Ock Spider-Man topples the main support beam of the room causing units of cast iron in the upper level to collapse. On page 18 Spider-Man describes the largest iron unit as being so heavy that it must outweigh a locomotive. A locomotive, on the low side, weighs about 100 tons. The reason why this becomes such a good indicator of Spider-Man’s strength is because he initially says that he can’t lift it, not even an inch. So we know that the weight of this object has to be generally more than what he could typically lift.
In the next issue (Affiliate Link) we see the magic. As an act of willpower and desperation Spider-Man ignores the pain of his muscles and almost blacks out as he manages to miraculously lift the heavy iron object off of him. The way this scene is portrayed makes it clear that he was brought to his limit in order to escape. Although not definitive, it may be a good starting point to say that he could lift 100 tons. However there was another time when he held up part of the Daily Bugle. No way of telling what that building would have weighed but a 50 story building probably weighs somewhere around 250,000 tons.
Is Spider-Man Stronger Than The Hulk?
Although the answer may seem as an obvious “no”, one story in “Devil’s Reign: Spider-Man” (starting with the first issue) suggests otherwise. In this story though, Spider-Man is Ben Reilly and not Peter Parker. However, since Ben is a genetic clone of Peter, they are arguably identical in strength and physical abilities, which makes for a fair comparison.
In pursuit of capturing the wall-crawler, Spider-Man is blasted at close range with a huge gun. It is so big, in fact, that it is considered to be a cannon. He survives this blast, but is stunned long enough to have himself captured with a power inhibitor collar. Later in the story, we find out that the weapon technology is traced back to the enforcement group SHIELD. It was from a preliminary batch of munitions designed to combat The Hulk, but never made into mass production. Since tags and serial numbers have been removed, it is implied that it was stolen. (If it was never made to mass production, why did it need serial numbers?)
The argument to be made here is that, if Spider-Man was able to take a cannon-blast at close range that was intended for The Hulk, and not even be affected so much as to fall down, then Spider-Man must be stronger than The Hulk. However, the person who captured him later says that if Spider-Man were to try and escape, he could have his head blown off. This could mean that that this Hulk Cannon super-weapon could be adjustable, and was not necessarily shot at full strength.
Spider-Man’s super-durable genetic makeup further indicates his resilience. Although Spider-Man, much like Superman, consciously pulls his punches and refrains from killing his opponents, he still exhibits a level of strength that he seldom unleashes. This restraint is a testament to his awareness of his own power and the “no-kill” superhero code he adheres to. However, when faced with an adversary like the Hulk, Spider-Man may be able to unleash his full strength, showcasing the extent of his durability and potentially even prevail in a battle between the two.
While the Hulk’s durability has been widely established throughout the Marvel universe, Spider-Man’s ability to withstand powerful attacks, his super-durable genetic makeup, and his potential to tap into his true strength when facing formidable opponents all suggest that his durability is certainly notable. While it may not reach the same extraordinary levels as the Hulk, Spider-Man’s resilience certainly places him among the more durable superheroes in the Marvel universe.