By now, you’ve probably seen him walking (or even swinging) around campus in the iconic, skin-tight red and blue suit. Or maybe your Instagram feed has been packed with pictures of him posing with wide-smiled students. Whether you’re a fan or a confused witness, at one point or another you must have wondered: Who is UConn Spider-Man? After a lot of questioning, and some light cyber-stalking, I decided to reach out to UConn Spider-Man to learn more from the man behind the mask.
If by chance you have managed to avoid any in-person or virtual sightings of UConn Spider-Man and have no clue who I am referring to, allow me to fill you in. Dubbed “Spidey”, UConn Spider-Man is an anonymous student who has been appearing around campus fully costumed as the popular Marvel Comics superhero. He made his first appearances in December 2021, but his official debut was at Huskython this past April. According to Spidey, the decision to become a campus superhero came from a notable lack of one.
“It was an idea I had at three in the morning,” said Spidey. “I thought to myself, ‘Why is no one Spider-Man? This is the perfect place to do that.’ I guess I was right.”
Randomly showing up at spots around campus, including lecture halls and the Student Union, Spidey’s bizarre appearances have become a source of humor and excitement for the UConn community. This newfound ability to brighten a person’s day and briefly transport them from the often boring reality of college life was what originally inspired him to put on the mask.
“I mainly did it because I think college life is kind of mundane,” said Spidey. “For a lot of us, life is pretty much the same every day. I would argue that people need a break from that, especially today with hustle culture. It’s just ‘keep going until you drop.’ That’s not healthy. I think people need a break from their harsh reality and I feel like I can help make that possible.
Dressing up as one of the most recognizable characters in the world and then walking amongst your peers is pretty bold, to say the least. Like me, I’m sure many of you found yourselves looking at Spidey and thinking about how much money someone would have to pay you to do something so absurd. I asked Spidey about how he built up the courage to put himself out there so brazenly. As it turns out, even heroes fear being judged sometimes.
“It’s a false courage,” he said. “When I first put on the suit, I was sobbing in the bathroom. I was so nervous I had to give myself a pep talk, ‘You got this, you want to do this.’ But then when I went outside panicking, nervous and crying, I realized no one can see my face. No one can see the fear behind the mask. I realized then that my courage, which is like a safety net, honestly could potentially be inspiring to others.”
People have certainly fed off of Spidey’s courage. College can undoubtedly be daunting and lonely for introverts. But Spidey’s fearlessness encourages those who see him to act fearlessly too.
“Courage is different for everyone and doing this has helped me connect with a lot of people,” he said. “Overall, I am what you want me to be. If you want me to be a mascot, that’s what I’ll be for you. If you want me to be a sense of strength, I mean, sure, I’ll be that for you too. That’s what I’ve realized the Spider-Man really is.”
We also spoke about the logistics of wearing the costume. Contrary to what I previously believed, putting on the suit is not a part of his morning routine. Instead, UConn Spidey changes when duty calls.
“I change into the suit in a private bathroom and then I change out of it in a different bathroom in a different building,” he said. “I also never visit the same location twice in a row. For example, I’ll hit up the Union, and then I won’t go back for like a week.”
This sporadic wearing of the suit makes it a bit harder to pin down the student behind UConn Spider-Man, which is a good thing. Spidey doesn’t plan on revealing his true identity until he graduates.
“I’ve met a bunch of people in the suit who actually know me but don’t know me as Spider-Man,” he said. “I cannot wait for my phone to blow up with everyone being like ‘Yo, you were Spider-Man?’”
If you’re disappointed you’ll have to wait a bit longer for the big reveal, don’t be too upset. There were two things that Spidey was willing to disclose about his identity: first being that he is a junior, and second that he is a computer science major. Use those clues as you wish.
All in all, Spidey is happy to remain anonymous as he does not want his personal life to monopolize the UConn Spider-Man experience.
“I never sit around and wish people knew who I was and loved me for who I am under the mask because what I do underneath the mask does not warrant this type of response,” he said. “But when the mask is on and I’m in character, suddenly I’m no longer myself. I’m a character who has embodied a lot of people’s childhood. Then it’s a different story because it’s no longer about me. It’s about a shared experience.”