WASHINGTON — With great airpower comes great responsibility.
Ok, that’s not exactly what Peter Parker learned from his Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man comics. But it probably rings true for Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Q. Brown, a longtime fan of the plucky Marvel hero.
“Actually, I still have the comic books from when I was in probably middle school — you know, mid 1970s comic books,” Brown told Air Force Times during a Nov. 12 interview. “My boys always buy me Spider-Man paraphernalia. My head cover for my golf clubs is Spider-Man.”
Brown first revealed his love of Marvel Comics during a speech at the Air Force Association conference in September, explaining that although his favorite superhero was Spider-Man, he had been thinking a lot about the Avengers films.
“In Avengers: Endgame … the Avengers all come together and now decide they’re going to go out and retrieve the infinity stones, use the quantum realm, and do a time heist to restore balance to the universe,” he said then.
“Well, our United States Air Force doesn’t have infinity stones, we can’t use the quantum realm, and we can’t do a time heist. As a matter of fact, we can’t even predict the future. But we can shape it.”
Since Spider-Man’s debut in the 1960s, the character has been featured in more than a dozen movies, from the corny television movies of the 1970s to last year’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
But when it comes to movie iterations, Brown still prefers the classic 2002 Sam Raimi film, which starred Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker and helped kick off a new era of superhero movies.
“Probably the first one [is my favorite]” Brown said.
He quickly added that he also enjoyed “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse,” which was the first movie to feature the character of Miles Morales, a Black teenager from Brooklyn who gets bitten by a radioactive spider and is mentored by alternate reality versions of Spider-Man.
“Spider-verse was pretty good, too. Just because it was, one, a cartoon and it shows all different aspects of Spider-Man,” Brown said.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had no shortage of characters with a background in the Air Force, with examples that include Falcon from the Captain America films and War Machine from the Iron Man franchise.
Last year, the Air Force’s Hollywood liaison office collaborated with Marvel Studios on “Captain Marvel.” During the movie, F-15C pilot Carol Danvers gains superpowers after absorbing the energy emitted by an experimental engine during an explosion. Brie Larson, who plays Danvers, visited Nellis Air Force Base in 2018 to learn about Air Force pilot culture, and the film itself features shots of the Air Force Academy and of aircraft like the B-2 bomber.
Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.