Okay, so from the moment we saw it in the trailer, we all lost our minds. Peter’s on the bus, and the hairs on his arm stand up. He looks out the window and see’s Ebony Maw’s donut ship hovering over the city. In the distance. Who knows how many miles away. What I’m saying is, while that moment got every Spider-Man fanboy, myself included, dancing with joy, that’s not how his Spider-Sense works!
Peter’s Spider-Sense is an early warning system for immediate danger. When someone is sneaking up on him, or if he’s about to spin a web to a loose ceiling tile. It doesn’t let him know what’s coming, but it does let him know to watch out or get out of the way. It works in tandem with his reflexes, allowing him to dodge and move at lightning speed, avoiding any sort of damage, and the only time it falters is if Venom is around.
The Raimi trilogy illustrated the Spider-Sense perfectly in the scene where he fights Flash Thompson. He gets the tingle, and we see a fly, a spitball, and Flash’s fist. Spider-Sense warns him of anything around that could cause potential harm, even if it’s something as small as a fly or a spitball. The thing is, it’s meant to sense things that are dangerous to Peter, and not the rest of the world.
For instance, in The Amazing Spider-Man, when he’s kissing Gwen on the roof, then his Spider-Sense tingles because Lizard is attacking the bridge. But it’s miles away, across the city, and Peter is in no immediate danger, so it should not have tingled. In that case, if Scorpion or someone is robbing a bank across town at night, Peter’s Spider-Sense would wake him up! Then he’d have to sleep in a tank of water like Daredevil in the ’03 movie!
In Civil War, we see very subtle references, but it’s demonstrated perfectly. As Ant-Man is about to sneak attack Spidey from Cap’s shield, Spider-Man says “Hey, guys, I think that something-” then gets cut off as Ant-Man attacks. And he cries “Oh God!” when Bucky hurls that sign at him, and chucks it back. That’s because both times, something was directly attacking Peter. His Spider-Sense didn’t tingle when Wanda threw the cars at Tony, or when Vision shot Rhodey down. Because that’s not how it works.
So, while it was really great to see Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense manifest in a very clear, very cool way in Infinity War, it was not really the most accurate portrayal. That ship was miles away, and no immediate threat to Peter. It didn’t bug me or anything, I’m just being a nerd and pointing things out. Now there is a theory going around that Peter fought off disintegrating so long because his Spider-Sense warned him that it was coming, and while we’ve never seen it work that way either, there’s nothing suggesting that it doesn’t. After all, I’d say turning to dust qualifies as immediate danger! R.I.P. Spidey (sad face emoji).