Obama’s Spider-Man Reference?

While the current Obama/Spider-Man buzz making the rounds is Marvel’s (supposedly pretty ham-handed) “guest appearance” by Obama in a current Spider-Man issue, here’s something a bit more subtle that recently caught my eye.  Last Sunday’s Parade Magazine newspaper insert contained a contained a letter/essay from Obama to his children entitled “What I Want for You — and Every Child in America.” In that essay was the following passage:

“…with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.”

Maybe it’s just the fanboy in me, but the first thing I thought of was, of course, this:


Or, as it later often appeared both in the comics and in the films:

“With great power comes great responsibility.”


  1. Robin says:

    I say that sometimes, but I never knew where it came from!

    Here is an interesting blog post about similar quotes and the root of the Spider-Man quote (Jesus Christ said, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more”):

  2. Isaac says:

    Definitely sounds like Obama got it from Stan Lee.

  3. Ben says:

    I think it’d be great if the new president worked in hackneyed Stan Lee-style language as much as possible. So instead of say, just announcing a new judge, he could say: THIS MAN, THIS MAGISTATE!!! Or, when issuing a presidential pardon, it could say at the top: IF THIS BE NO PARDON?!!

  4. Jordan says:

    According to this article published before the election, Obama a collects of Spidey and Conan. Despite his botched reference to the Green Hornet in one speech, a few other are sprinkled little sci-fi or comic references, so it’s entirely likely he borrowed the phrase.


  5. John Morris says:

    At last– a White House that knows what “the whiskers of Ishtar’s beard” means:


  6. Vernard says:


    I’ve been searching for the exact volume number and the page where this quote from Ben Parker is found. Would you happen to know where it is?

  7. Ben says:

    Vernard – There’s a rundown of the quote’s appearances here:



  8. Cate Smith says:

    It’s from a speech that FDR wrote for the Thomas Jefferson Day Dinner in 1945; the speech was never delivered because Roosevelt died suddenly the day before the event, but the speech was published a year later and then again in 1961in the book Nothing to Fear. The whole quotation is “Today we have learned in the agony of war that great power involves great responsibility.”

  9. Spiderman Coloring Pages says:

    Oh wow, great to see that quote getting around. i had no idea it was based on a FDR speech.

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