Spider-Man has an unusual weakness to bugs

Spider-Man may be one of the most popular characters in the MCU, but most people don’t realize he has one of the weirdest weaknesses.

Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s most recognizable superheroes. From its beginnings in the pages of amazing fantasy #15, the character has become a global icon, his popularity spawning countless movies, books, and cartoons over the course of 59 years. And it’s not hard to see why such a character has lasted so long, especially since he’s arguably one of comics’ most well-known superheroes.

Although he has superpowers, Peter Parker isn’t immune to having a ton of weaknesses, and often fans encourage him to overcome them to save the day. It’s often what drives the character to do what he does, and it’s also reflected in his growing catalog of movies and cartoons. However, largely due to the character’s long lifespan, not all of his weaknesses would translate well outside of the comics.


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One particular weakness that probably won’t be addressed anytime soon is one of Spider-Man’s lesser known ones. It turns out that Spider-Man, along with his other comic book variants, has an often underestimated weakness to ethyl chloride. It’s something that’s been referenced more than once in the comics, and it’s so lethal to him that if he inhales too much of that particular chemical, it could kill him. While this might not seem unusual, given that ethyl chloride can hurt anyone if they inhale it, the absurdity is that in addition to being fatal to it, it appears to almost instantly drains him of his spider abilities for a brief moment.


Also, the reason for this oddly specific weakness is equally bizarre, as it may be a nod to the fact that ethyl chloride can be found in certain pesticides. This is roughly confirmed to be the case in amazing spider man #106, where this vulnerability was first introduced. Near the end of the issue, Spider-Man is caught in a web created by a Spider-Slayer. He is then doused in “an ethyl chloride-like gas”, which he proclaims to be “the type that can weaken a spider”. So essentially Spider-Man’s Achilles’ heel is, first and foremost, insect repellent.

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It’s an absurd and rather hilarious implication that may have readers wondering why this weakness hasn’t been more widely exploited by Spider-Man’s villains. This is especially bizarre when you consider that ethyl chloride can be found, not only in pesticides, but also in some topical medications. The chemical is not lacking in abundance and it would probably only take a trip to a pharmacy or hospital to get hold of it.

Though there’s probably a reasonable explanation why Spider-Man’s big roster of villains doesn’t include the substance in their arsenal. For one thing, it doesn’t seem to be common knowledge. Of course, that’s not to say that no villain doesn’t know. For example, the Spider-Slayers, the deadly androids who introduced the concept of this weakness in the first place, almost always have it as a weapon. But it seems that those who are aware of it are rare.


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There’s also the fact that while the chemical could supposedly kill him faster than anything else, he’s not dead from it yet. The villains have always managed to weaken him with ethyl chloride, but he conveniently manages to survive it by outwitting them each time. After a while, it would probably seem easier to fight him off the bat than to spray him with the stuff.

Of course, the real explanation is probably much simpler. Spider-Man, after all, is as human as it gets. Even with his superpowers, he isn’t invincible, so he doesn’t need a kryptonite-like weakness to bring him down. As a result, Spider-Man’s writers likely have far fewer convoluted weaknesses to fall back on, which is perhaps why his weakness to substance is one of his lesser-known qualities.


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