In the very centre of Buenos Aires, people in Spider-Man costumes are standing pointing at each other, recreating one of the world’s most-famous memes. But instead of three heroes, as is seen in the famous image, there are thousands of web slingers as far as the eye can see.
Kids sit atop their fathers’ shoulders, each wearing variations of the famous red-and-blue costume. In the throng, some stand still, others push forward trying to understand the instructions for how to add their name to the official count – after all, this is a world record attempt. Shouting through a microphone, the event’s organisers move through the crowd, trying to arrange people and seize control of the chaos.
More than 3,000 people gathered at Buenos Aires’ iconic Obelis in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for largest Spider-Man gathering in history, the event’s organisers told the Times.
Argentine influencer Uki Deane, the brains behind the event, organised the event on Instagram after asking his 417,000 followers to help him surpass the previous record of the 685 people set in Malaysia last June.
Kevin DeMaio, 26, who carried his son on his shoulders, said he heard about the event through Facebook. He arrived at the Obelisk at 3pm, two hours before the event was set to start. “There was nobody, one or two people only. But now it’s full of people, thousands,” he said in astonishment.
Two young kids, Matias and Ali, like others, waved at all the vlog cameras passing by.
YouTubers, influencers and Instagrammers flocked to the meeting-point to create content and interview the crowds. Costumes varied: some wore shop-bought fancy dress, others had face-paint and some had even made their outfits themselves.
Many were eager to show off – some Spider-Men could be seen doing flips and climbing onto decorated “BA” bushes to entertain the crowd. Street-sellers weren’t far behind. Those selling Spider-Man blankets, pink and blue cotton candy, and sodas were doing good trade.
“A friend made me the costume for a party in 2007 when Spider-Man 3 came out,” said 34-year-old journalist Juan Manuel Castro, who was wearing a black-and-white symbiote suit. “I’ve had it since then and every now and then on Halloween or a party I’ll take it.”
Castro heard about the event through Instagram and from a group of cosplayers called ‘Spider-Man Argentino,’ which usually gets around 20 or 30 people per meeting and joined the recruitment efforts.
One cosplayer, 20-year-old Lucas Gabriel Porcel, said that Spiderman was the first costume he ever made himself. Now, he has been making masks for Halloween and other events.
Porcel first started learning how to make them on YouTube, but has slowly improved his techniques. He makes the eyes with a micro-perforated fabric and makes sure the masks have enough ventilation, with the fabric being the most expensive at 6,000 pesos per metre. He made more than 40 masks for Sunday’s record-breaking event.
Friendly neighbourhood spiders
With Argentina’s ever-surging inflation and the upcoming presidential run-off, politics remained at the forefront of people’s mind. On top of breaking the world record, Dean asked his audiences to bring food supplies to be donated to the Fundacion Margarita Barrientos, focused on residents of Villa Soldati, which organises soup kitchens and food banks for those living in poverty.
One Spider-man — whose homemade mask was made with a red t-shirt, black marker, and pieces of black plastic glued on for the eye coverings — said that he brought rice and polenta for the food pantry.
“A good mask doesn’t matter, what matters is what the mask represents. For me, it represents resilience and hope,” said the Spider-Man, who preferred not to give his name.
“I am super happy we just filled a truck full of food for the pantry and the people are united in solidarity, it’s great,” said Porcel in an interview.
Around 50 people could be seen passing pastas, oils, and cans to one another in an assembly line, which were then quickly carried across Avenida 9 de Julio and loaded onto a truck. It was a comical scene: people screaming through megaphones at Spider-Men to cross the street every time the traffic lights changed. At one point, a bag of food fell and pasta poured out of a plastic packaging. The Spideys were soon on hand to mop up with a superhuman effort.
The whole event was difficult to organise, said Dean, but he remains confident that the record was broken. The attendance has not been confirmed and it will take up to 12 weeks for Guinness to verify the claim.
As the evening drew on, and the Spideys started to make their way to nearby bus stops, the influencer was still taking pictures with supporters and saying goodbye to his friends.
“It’s incredible that we could be here to witness the breaking of this world record. We Argentines can’t believe it,” Dean told the Times. “The idea was to be able to gather a few people, but they ended up gathering more than 3,000 people!”
“It got out of hand at times, trying to enter all the signatures but it was great because us Argentines are crazy and were able to get together even in tense moments of politics,” he reflected, referring to the decisive presidential run-off scheduled for November 19.
“From different barrios and political views, we got together wearing the Spider-Man emblem. We did it, we broke the record and here we are,” said Dean.