In Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002), it's revealed during the class trip scene to Oscorp Labs that the spider that bit Peter Parker is an entirely new species created by combining all the best genetic traits of lab spiders. This spider was just one of 15 super-spiders in the same tank, which escaped for at least long enough to bite Peter.

I don't recall any dialogue about the spider also being radioactive. Was this spider radioactive as well as being a genetic hybrid? If it wasn't at all radioactive, how does the Raimi universe explain Spider-Man gaining powers by being bitten by it?


1 Answer 1


There is no indication the spider that bit Peter was radioactive. It was a genetically-engineered super-spider.

The Oscorp tour guide advises:

Over five painstaking years, Columbia's genetic research facility has fully mapped the genetic codes of each of these spiders. Armed with these DNA blueprints, we have now begun what was once thought impossible- inter-species genetic transmutation. This is the Recombination Lab, where we use synthesized transfer-RNA to encode an entirely new genome, combining genetic information from all three spiders into these ten genetically-designed super-spiders, the first mankind has ever produced.

Why Peter obtained special spider-like powers after being bitten by a genetically designed super-spider, like he fictionally might if he were instead explicitly bitten by a radioactive spider, is explained in about as much detail as if he might instead have gained strange powers by a radioactive spider instead of genetically designed spider.

  • 5
    Getting powers from a genetically altered spider seems a little more plausible than getting it from a radioactive one. On a scale of 1-10 it's a one rather than a zero
    – Valorum
    Oct 11, 2021 at 14:09
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    You feel like the radioactivity of the spider is a really key component of Spider-Man? I always felt like radioactivity, back in 1962, presumably still had the balance between being an actual-real-life-science-thing, while not being generally well-understood by regular people, to serve as vaguely believable source for fantastic abilities (like "chemistry" did with Frankenstein's monster back in the 1800s). Genetic engineering felt like a decent fit to me in 2002. Oct 11, 2021 at 15:12
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    @SillybutTrue: sure, although the previous scientific technogibberish was a bit more outdated. 2002 audiences probably would have wondered why he didn't just get cancer, and we don't really want to get into all that. Oct 11, 2021 at 16:03
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    Indeed. Origins constantly change, as time progresses, and audiences become more familiar. You're not likely to see a Fantastic Four adaptation where they're empowered while attempting to beat the Russians to the Moon, for instance.
    – notovny
    Oct 11, 2021 at 16:06
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    @notovny What if the Fantastic Four had been bitten by radioactive cosmic rays? Sadly, we'll never know. Oct 11, 2021 at 16:09

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