As anyone who's watched the Raimi 2002 Spider-Man trilogy may remember, Peter wakes up the morning after the spider bite with a ripped body, standing in stark contrast with the scrawny body we'd seen he had earlier.

Who needs protein? (Image of Peter with muscles)

Now that just begs the question - is that the case too for the mainstream Marvel continuity? It's not mentioned in Amazing Fantasy #15, but in Amazing Spider-Man v1 #4, Seymour O'Reilly touches his arm and remarks that Parker has "muscles like a weight lifter".

That just makes me wonder: were Earth-616 Peter's ripped muscles a result of his super-hero origin? Or by that point, had he simply been web-swinging and wall-crawling enough to get cut naturally?

  • 1
    I really wanted to comment “define ‘definition’”, but you’ve already done that very clearly. May 30, 2020 at 18:49

2 Answers 2


While there isn't a definitive answer, it seems likely Peter has developed his physique through his activities as Spider-Man.

Spider-man's origin in the comics is a little different from what's shown in the Raimi movies. His powers kick in minutes after being bitten by the spider, and seem fully functional immediately:

Spider-man's Origin: *Amazing Fantasy* #15, pg 3: Peter is bitten by the spider; he manages to leap onto a wall clinging on by his fingertips almost straight away Spider-man's Origin: *Amazing Fantasy* #15, pg 4: Peter climbs buildings with very little grip, finds out his strength and his balance Spider-man's Origin: *Amazing Fantasy* #15, pg 5: Peter joins a wrestling match where he very easily beats a champion muscly wrestler

We see Peter with his shirt off in Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #8:

Peter Parker vs. Flash Thompson, from *Amazing Spider-Man* (1963) #8: Peter looking ripped underneath his clothes before a fight with Flash who is muscly and him thinking about pulling his punches because they think he's skinny

While Peter doesn't look incredibly puny here, note that he is called "stringbean" by someone who can see him standing there shirtless. Also, it is clear that Flash Thompson does have a more powerful looking body.

So, no, it doesn't appear that the development of Peter's physique occurred purely from the spider bite. Logically, years of swinging around town, jumping, and fighting while using his spider-sense to avoid taking any more damage than necessary lead to further development of his physique, leading to more powerful muscles.

I would be remiss in not noting that a part of this can be attributed to the artists drawing the comic. Clear through his last issue (Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #38), Steve Ditko drew a Peter Parker who looked relatively thin and weak. Here, he doesn't appear to have more bulk than Aunt May!

Peter and Aunt May, from *Amazing Spider-Man* (1963) #38, drawn by Steve Ditko: Peter looking pretty skinny as May drags him to the front door

However, the book's next artist, John Romita, seemed to bulk him up to at least average size almost immediately. In this image from Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #39, Romita's first issue, Peter's upper arm seem larger than the doctor's:

Peter Parker, drawn by John Romita, from *Amazing Spider-Man* (1963) #39: Peter getting checked out at the Doctor with his sleeve rolled up revealing a muscly arm


Not really as much. In the comics his strength is proportional, also he gained his abilities in teenage/childhood at age 14-15 so his muscle definition is not well toned out yet. He gets bigger over time. His muscle tone is often the byproduct of his artist who draws him. But most Artists often depict him as a rather lanky, muscles, like Bruce Lee. Not Big or intimidating, virtually invisible under normal clothing but pronounced in his uniform.

Spider-Man: Black Cat strikes #2: Peter sat on the edge of his bed with his shirt off showing his muscled figure

His adult years depict him with a robust physique. Characteristics of someone who works out.

Amazing Spider-Man 378: Peter sat on the edge of his bed with his shirt off and his abdomen bandaged up showing his muscled figure

Modern artists show him with a more normal body, with tough muscle but barely visible under the clothing he wears.

Peter with naked except for "web underwear" swinging through the city showing his muscly body Peter shirtless on a lamppost revealing his muscly body

In the Spider-Island story arc, it's established the muscle doesn't explicitly grow considerably. But is tougher and more durable.

Amazing Spider-Man 667: Mary shows her strength without having a muscly body

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    ^_^ Ah, what a time to have an excuse to look for shirtless Spider-Man pictures!
    – FuzzyBoots
    May 30, 2020 at 13:51

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