no, spiderman couldn’t have saved her.
gwen stacy was falling at high speed and spiderman’s web caught up with her just as she was about to hit the ground, she didn’t have much time at her disposal to make it stop even after she immediately dove to catch it (as shown in the movie).
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“with great power comes great responsibility.”
Although the dictum applies to all superheroes, it is safe to point out that there are some superheroes who have paid higher prices than others in terms of the loss of loved ones. Spiderman sits right at the top of the list of such superheroes. He lost his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, when she walked out of a tall building after being knocked down by the Green Goblin, Spider-Man’s archenemy. It was a tragic moment, particularly for loyal fans of the superhero.
However, did he really die due to hitting the ground? Is it possible that spiderman himself (obviously, unknowingly) contributed to his death?
Let’s see what science has to say about this controversial film issue!
what exactly are we talking about?
for the uninitiated i should start by explaining that there have been two different series of spiderman movies made by marvel enterprises. We are going to talk about the second set of spiderman movies i.e. the amazing spiderman series. so far, they have produced two films in the series; we are going to discuss a specific extremely important event in the second movie (the amazing spider-man 2).
we are going to see how gwen stacy died and then we will try to scientifically analyze if spider-man could have done something to avoid the fateful result.
gwen stacy’s death: how did it happen?
in the movie
The scene goes like this: Spider-Man and Green Goblin battle it out, as usual, over rooftops and through glass windows. However, in this particular fight, they end up on top of a clock tower where Green Goblin, though not directly, causes Gwen Stacy to fall to her death. Spider-Man immediately shoots the web at her to catch her, which he does at her, but just as she hits the ground. a distinctive “thud” is also heard, implying that she hit the ground before the web could catch her.
in the comic
in issue #121 of amazing spiderman, the green goblin throws her off a bridge. As she falls, Spider-Man catches her in her web and as a result, she doesn’t hit the water. However, just as the web abruptly stops her free fall, there is a “click”, indicating that Gwen’s neck has been broken.
falling from a height: why is it so deadly?
Why are people (without mental illness) so afraid of falling from great heights? It may seem pretty obvious at first, but take a moment and think about it. what actually happens when someone falls from a tall structure and hits the ground (or the surface of the water)?
When you’re falling through the air, you’re moving at high speed toward the ground. when you hit the ground, your speed drops from a very high value to zero in a matter of a few milliseconds. the impact exerts a tremendous force on his entire body that is equivalent to a force many times his own body weight. that’s where the problem lies.
To calculate gwen’s speed when caught by spider’s web, we can use the following expression.
where g is acceleration due to gravity (9.8 meters per second squared), ‘h’ is the height through which she has fallen already (say, 300 feet or 92 meters) and ‘v’ is her velocity. Putting all these values in the equation, her speed turns out to be 95 miles per hour (150 kilometers per hour).
Now, we need to use another equation, Newton’s second law of motion, to calculate the force required by the belt to stop it, i.e. slow it down from 95 mph to 0 mph.
Assuming that Gwen weighs 110 pounds (50 kilograms), she is falling through the air at 95 mph, and the webbing brings her down to rest in, say, 0.5 seconds. Given those variables, what is the force exerted on her body? How much force does she feel?
a huge amount! in fact, the force he experiences is nearly 10 times his own body weight. the result of such a large force on his body in a span of 0.5 seconds results, unsurprisingly, in his neck ‘snapping’. This is why bungee jumpers allow enough distance for their stretch rope to stretch properly; by doing this, they ensure that they don’t experience a strong rebound force in just a few milliseconds; rather, that force is distributed over a longer period of time.
how did spiderman (unknowingly) contribute to gwen’s death?
all the danger of falling from such a great height is coming to an end in a very short span of time, so all the internal organs are messed up and cause fatal injuries due to the enormous force. That is why so many suicides who jump into rivers and canals do not die by drowning, but by breaking their necks.
it seems crazy to think that spider-man could have contributed to gwen’s death, but seen from a scientific perspective, he might have.
Catching her in her net and stopping her abruptly wouldn’t have made much of a difference, as she still experienced a large amount of force when her free fall suddenly stopped due to the net’s pull. her webbing is flexible, which is nice, but there just wasn’t enough time for the webbing to elongate and distribute the impact over more than a few milliseconds, which would have given gwen a chance to survive the fall.
could spiderman have saved her?
on normal occasions, when he had more time than in that case, he could have slowed the victim’s free fall by grabbing them with his webs, grabbing them in the air, and then swinging to safety, thus extending the force for many seconds, even minutes.
However, considering that she was falling at high speed and that her webs caught her just as she was about to hit the ground, Spider-Man didn’t have much time at his disposal to make her stop, even after she was immediately dove. to catch her (as shown in the movie).
even according to science, it just wasn’t spider-man’s day.
he seemed to have learned from this episode and later, in a particular edition of the comic, he is shown to save a guy falling from a building in exactly the same way: spidey breaks the man’s fall with his web and catches him . , and then swings along with him to safety! He watches this clip from Spider-Man 3, where Spider-Man saves a girl in exactly the same way; catch it first, then swing to safety.
This is what a true superhero teaches us; even when you fail, learn from your mistakes, get up and fight back!