Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben
Who said: “With great power comes great responsibility”?
The thematic and often-quoted (including by the Supreme Court of the United States) is attributed to Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben. However, in the comic “Amazing Fantasy #15,” where it first appears, it is not spoken by any character.
In fact, Ben has only two lines in the entire comic. The original version of the phrase appears in a narrative caption of the comic’s last panel, rather than as spoken dialogue. It reads, “…with great power there must also come — great responsibility!”
Later stories and flashbacks that took place when Ben was still alive retroactively made the phrase one of Ben’s many homilies he would lecture Peter with.
Latter-day reinterpretations of Spider-Man, such as the Spider-Man film and the Ultimate Spider-Man comic, depict Ben as saying this phrase to Peter while he is still alive, in their last conversation. Both the aforementioned adaptations also had Peter lash out at Ben just after he says it, and both also mention his father.
In fact, the origins of the phrase pre-date its use in Spider-Man.
- In 1906, Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office Winston Churchill said, “Where there is great power there is great responsibility.”
- In 1817, member of British parliament William Lamb is recorded saying, “the possession of great power necessarily implies great responsibility,” even indicating that it was already a cultural maxim invoked toward government at the time.
- The sentiment is also attributed to Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of Luke, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required.” [Luke 12:48]
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