The Lizard: A suggestion for society inspired by one of Spider-Man’s most notorious villains

     After the long-awaited release of Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, the phrase “if I were a lizard” has been trending on many social media platforms as a means of excusing unfortunate circumstances. The reference is to one of Marvel’s previous Spider-Man villains, The Lizard, whose main objective was to turn everyone into lizards. Many people using that phrase have been making light of their situations, from how their struggles of being single would differ to how they would not be failing a class if they were the reptilian species. After considering the consequences of The Lizard’s objective, I realized the positive logistics of the villain’s plan. However, many might question the credibility of this plan considering the uprising of it came from an untrusting, ableist doctor with only one arm – a product of his time in the military. I believe our world could actually progress through the execution of his plan, however, based on different, more positive intentions. And so the time has come for us, the human species, to take the steps necessary to embrace a collective transition into lizards. 

     In a world where institutionalized and systemic ableism continues to live on with no consequences, internalized ableism was ingrained in Doctor Curt Connors: the first villain in The Amazing Spider-Man universe, who is now recognized by his alter ego, The Lizard. The handicapped scientist sought out a way to cross animal DNA with humans so that he could adapt the same ability as a reptile: to regrow limbs. He eventually succeeded but in turn fully transformed into a lizard. However, his choices leading up to an injection that implemented the characteristics of a lizard were influenced and driven by the need to fit into a society that lacked accommodation and acceptance towards disabled people.

     Lane Williams, a blogger who delves deep into the internalized ableism Dr. Connors possesses, made many notable points to argue how this destroyed his character, and in turn, ruined the reputation of his goals. Our first impression of the character is provided by his first line: “I am not a cripple. I’m a scientist.” Through Williams’ analysis of Connors, she says that this quote reveals how he “feels that his disability takes something away from who he is as a scientist, and that he has to push away the one in order to get full credit for the other.” Throughout the rest of his storyline and plot of the movie, he prioritizes how to fix being handicapped and the idea of being inferior, rather than working towards a more equal and accepting society. The writers of Connors’ character emphasize his disability so much as a character and villain that “they make him behave as if the disability is the only important aspect of his life.”  

     After The Lizard takes control over Connors’ ableist mindset, he makes his new goal turning everyone into a cold-blooded reptile. Williams sees The Lizard’s transition is a revelation of Connors’ true colors, and she explains that “a dehumanizing view of people with disabilities [is what leads] to a dehumanizing view of all non-lizard people.” This is one reason why many people seem reluctant to adhere to The Lizard’s intentions; it’s because of the ableist leader of the movement. 

     In her article, she blames The Lizard’s characterization on the writers’ decision to root internalized ableism into his character, which in turn “bred a terrible character, and anybody could recognize it.” Williams recognizing the impacts of the writers’ choices demonstrates how society’s influence creates the villain in the first place. However, while Connors may have been a villain in his world, his plan would have easily labeled him a genius in ours. This is if, and only if, he and his intentions weren’t influenced by internalized ableism and instead encouraged by the desire to progress the science industry; if we were to remove the ableist intentions and undertones from the leader of the project, The Lizard’s objective would have benefited society substantially. 

     In the world we live in today, scientists have run tests and trials to mimic a similar process of crossing DNA – however not to the same extent as Connors. These tests result in animals often referred to as chimeras, which have their roots from Greek mythology. Professor Martin Pera, from The University of Melbourne and the former program leader of Stem Cells Australia, describes the process as not so much a means of entertainment as it is a benefit towards society through “understanding how animals grow and develop.” He provides examples of how useful these trials are by describing how they can “be used to grow life-saving organs that can be transplanted into humans.

     Humans have always been a curious species that find fascination in other organisms. Therefore, the ability to insert certain characteristics and genetics into humans, when placed in the palms of the best modern scientists’ hands, would be revolutionary. The ability to cross DNA would be groundbreaking progress, pushing us in the direction we have been moving for generations. This process would open up opportunities that could heal the sick or comfort the injured. Not only would Connors’ proposal open up new possibilities for the medical world, but the general science industry would benefit greatly through the discovery and understanding of crossing DNA. 

     While many might find our new appearances ridiculous at first, like anything else that only seems weird initially, acceptance will begin to grow over time; one day viewing each other as lizards will be normal. Not only are there so many benefits to this change that appearance won’t even matter, but this is also an opportunity to renew and remake the modern day beauty standards. Not only would this transition benefit those with health problems, but it would help others who struggle in the face of society’s standards – from young teenagers to top models.

     This initial change may create angst for many newly transitioned beauticians, as this evolution could create new standards for beauty. However, what’s important to recognize and consider is the modification of this scale, and how the transition will provide a fresh start to those with insecurities and comparison issues. In fact, many might be too caught up in their new lizard lifestyle to worry about how their hair looks or if their outfits are aesthetically pleasing.

     In recent times, one of the biggest negative influences in people’s lives has been the COVID-19 pandemic, which is the root of many economic, political, mental and social issues. Therein lies one of the reasons many would support Connors’ plan: This transition to a cold-blooded species may cause this pandemic to cease to exist.

     Lizards and other reptiles differ from humans in many obvious ways – one being their blood temperature. According to Stuart Fox from the science news website, Live Science, as cold-blooded animals, lizards differ from humans by not having the ability to control their body temperature internally. Instead, reptiles rely on the environment and their appetite. 

     “This strategy helps them conserve energy in the cold and rapidly ramp up their body temperature in the heat,” Fox said on lizards’ reliance on their surroundings. While moving around and depending on your environment may seem like a burden, it gives a fair trade off: decreasing the risk of the COVID-19 virus due to being hosted by the unsupportive environment of the newly cold-blooded. 

     While many might assume modern scientists would not know enough of the reptile immune system to properly understand how it works, there is still evidence of a decrease in Coronavirus symptoms if we were all lizards. By comparing the statistics of a COVID-19 virus in humans versus reptiles, provided by Michael Corcoran from the Ethos Veterinary Health site, we can see how these cases differ from what we see in the human world today.  

     While many are aware that household pets have been able to contract COVID-19 due to their owners, there has not been any research delving deeper into the contraction of COVID-19 in lizards or reptiles – this could be due to their cold-blooded nature. However, due to many Coronavirus RNA viruses having been rooted from animals and transferred onto their human owners, Corcoran mainly focuses on the specific virus, SARS-CoV-2. 

     After suggesting different ways to stay safe, Corcoran states, “Currently, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) emphasizes that there is no evidence that pets become infected with SARS-CoV-2.” By putting this lack of evidence together with the inconsistent rise of human cases, we can notably see how drastically different our lives could be if we were to live a more reptilian lifestyle.  

     It’s in human nature to reject society’s movement towards change – especially at such an astronomical scale. As people advocate for new lifestyles, people begin to learn and adapt to the changes around them. In addition, the world continues to progress in beneficial ways through consistent innovations – from laws changing that benefit marginalized communities, to new products that solve simple issues. Connors’ objective could easily become one of the world’s greatest inventions. It could open new opportunities in the science world, erase common everyday struggles, restart beauty standards and even eliminate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Who would not want a new chance, a fresh start and a world full of more discoveries, all for the price of a few scales?