WKU gets its own ‘friendly neighborhood’ hero

Spiderman is a fictional character seen in comics, movies, cartoons and now at WKU. WKU’s Spiderman has popped up on campus around the beginning of September when the new Spiderman game for the Playstation 4 was released. According to Spiderman, he plans on making an appearance on campus when he can.

Drake Kizer

Web-slinger. Wall-crawler. Spider-Man has been called many names, but on the Hill, he is known by only one: @wkuspiderman.

On Sept. 7, Marvel’s Spider-Man was released for PlayStation 4. That afternoon, a WKU student picked up his copy of the video game wearing a Spider-Man costume. The WKU Spider-Man said this first public appearance was not a coincidence.

“I had planned it out, like, a week beforehand because I knew I was going to wear the suit for the game coming out,” said Spider-Man, who agreed to an interview with the Herald as long as his identity be kept a secret. “I bought the costume on eBay, and I got it because it was only, like, $65. Mine’s just a basic comic suit, but it looks more realistic, so it’s a pretty nice suit for that price.”

 After purchasing the new game, Spider-Man said he had some spare time on his hands. He spontaneously decided to come to WKU’s campus, and with a little assistance from a friend, Spider-Man descended upon the areas outside the Fine Arts Center and Downing Student Union to mingle with students passing by.

“I kind of did it as a joke,” Spider-Man said. “Me and my friend had a few hours to kill before work, so we were like, ‘Let’s just go mess around on campus.’ He drove me up there because I can’t drive in my suit, and we just walked around doing random stuff with people.”

The suit can be difficult to put on, which he said was a problem on that particular day.

“I got stuck in the costume,” he said. “It messed my hair up, and I was almost late to work.”

Nicholas Gillam, a junior electrical engineering major, agreed to give Spider-Man a ride to campus. Gillam said he has known him for a couple of years, so he had no problem helping Spider-Man put on his suit, which zips all the way up to the back of his neck. Once he started following his disguised friend around, Gillam said he got an interesting thought.

“I decided it’d be a good idea to film him,” Gillam said. “I was able to get a couple hours of him going around doing whatever he wanted to do.”

The footage is mostly of people greeting Spider-Man and giving him high-fives and fist-bumps, but Gillam said he hopes to film more action in the future.

Though Spider-Man’s first visit to WKU was not pre-planned, the five escapades since his debut all have been. Spider-Man said he and Gillam will engineer dynamic content for his newly-created Instagram page until the gimmick is simply too played-out to continue.

 “We’ve always done pranks and everything, we just never post it online,” Spider-Man said. “I want to plan more stuff out, but nothing really serious. When people see a Spider-Man walking around, they want to interact with it. I’ll just improvise and go off what they say. I’m not very acrobatic, so I don’t know if I’ll do flips or anything like Spider-Man would, but if I can, I’ll do it.”

On a day-to-day basis, the man behind the mask is just another WKU student. Spider-Man said his daily routine is similar to anyone else’s. If he has class, he attends. If he has work, he makes it there. But, Spider-Man said he keeps his suit inside his backpack at all times, just in case he deems it necessary to make an appearance.

Spider-Man said there are a few people who know his true identity, but he thinks if everyone were able to recognize him as he walked by, a lot of the mystery and fun would be eliminated. Spider-Man’s entire existence changes when he puts on the suit, and he thoroughly enjoys it.

“When I’m walking around in a Spider-Man suit, it’s an instant eye-catcher,” Spider-Man said. “All eyes are on me, and everyone wants to take pictures and talk. It’s the exact opposite when I’m just walking around because I’m a normal guy and nobody really pays any attention. That’s part of why I do this, it’s fun to mess around and interact with people in a light-hearted way.”

Though Spider-Man enjoys his 15 minutes of fame, he said he has no desire to have the same amount of attention in his personal life. Since Spider-Man’s identity is always concealed, he allows himself to act differently than he would otherwise.

“When I have the suit on, I’m in character,” Spider-Man said. “I’m more quippy like he is when I’m in the suit. I try to be more upbeat and tell jokes, which I don’t really do as a normal person. I don’t say anything offensive, but I say stuff I wouldn’t really have the confidence to say to random people. They’re usually recording me and they want something funny to take home, so I try to go along with it.”

During his first appearance on campus, Spider-Man ran into WKU President Timothy Caboni on the sidewalk and took a picture with him, an experience he described as “pretty cool.”

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

Not exactly how I expected to meet our president for the first time but he seemed delighted. #WKU #SpiderMan

A post shared by Spider-Man (@wkuspiderman) on Sep 16, 2018 at 1:55pm PDT

Other than that chance encounter, Spider-Man said he has not had any crazy interactions with students so far. However, he is a bit tired of them asking what his name is. He said his response to that inquiry is always the same: “My name is Spider-Man.”

Out of all the characters he could have chosen to portray, the student in the tights chose Spider-Man because of his father. He said he still has the first issue of the Ultimate Spider-Man comic book his dad bought him as a child. Since then, he has been hooked.

Though Spider-Man said he never tries to act like he is actually a superhero, he is influenced by Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of the character in his favorite movie, Spider-Man 2. He said he is also inspired by BigDawsTv and Cassady Campbell, two YouTubers that do character pranks and make the type of comedic videos he strives to create in the future.

What started out as a one-time prank has now become a way of life for Spider-Man. With the filming skills of his friend Gillam, Spider-Man said he wants to reach WKU students and make them laugh. Spider-Man said he has already followed a lot of people in the area on Instagram, and he plans on making them want to follow him back soon.

“Once we have time to record more, it’ll be easier to grow the account,” Spider-Man said. “The first time I showed up, I was all over the geotag on Snapchat and there were posts of me on Instagram under the location tag. I want people to know about me, so they will be expecting it and I can really step it up the next few times I do this.”

Features reporter Drake Kizer can be reached at 270-745-2653 and [email protected] Follow Drake on Twitter at @drakekizer_.