Ohio State’s ‘Spider-Man’ nurse gets Marvel-ous surprise

Spider-Man in a jump with the OSUCCC – James building on the background

Even though he didn’t have his Spider-Man costume on, Phil Re’s “spidey senses” were tingling. Something big was about to happen. The moment came during an interview he was doing with “Good Morning America” on March 28, 2022 for its segment on health care heroes who are big Marvel fans. Phil, a staff nurse at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, broke out into a huge grin when he was invited to the red carpet premiere in Hollywood of the upcoming Marvel movie, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

“That sounds pretty great. I’m really excited for that movie,” a stunned Phil said from a TV studio on the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center campus.

During the show, the “Good Morning America” hosts described how Phil shares kindness and positivity on The Ohio State University campus by dressing up as Spider-Man and mingling with students. “Just when you thought Spider-Man was a fictional character, OSU’s Spidey was born” was the opening line of the segment, which featured Phil’s friends and colleagues describing his passion for the superhero and his work as a registered nurse.

Collage of two images: a TV screen with a Spider-Man and Phil Re on the screen as Good Morning America is being filmed

The hosts cracked up at Phil’s reaction when he was invited to the movie premiere.

“Phil, we have given away a lot of stuff on this show and you have reacted in such a genuine and excited way in (getting to see) this movie — we can tell you’re into it. It’s really cool to be able to give this to you. Congrats on what you’re doing on campus; something as simple as putting on a Spider-Man outfit and walking around doing acts of kindness, which have meant so much to so many people,” “Good Morning America” host T.J. Holmes said.

A TV screen with “Good Morning America” hosts and Phil Re

Jacklyn Keene, a nurse manager at 10 East Doan, nominated Phil to appear on “Good Morning America” after learning the nationally syndicated show wanted to feature a healthcare worker who was passionate about Marvel as part of its post Oscars coverage. Phil was selected to appear on the show after doing a pre-interview with producers March 10 where he described doing random acts of kindness for Ohio State students and caring for patients. Producers hinted there would be some type of surprise but he had no idea it would be traveling to Hollywood.

Keene first learned about Phil’s interest in the superhero when he carved a Spider-Man pumpkin and gave it to her young son.

“Phil is a very beloved member of our team. He has a wonderful sense of humor and that’s been so refreshing, especially during the pandemic. He always seeks to understand and does it in a way that’s so positive and appreciative,” she says.
Ohio State nurse, Phil Re, explains how his love of Spider-Man inspired him to become the friendly campus 'OSU-Spidey.'

Nurse Phil Re showing his socks with Spiderman design

Phil’s love of Spider-Man dates back to 2002 when the first feature movie starring Tobey Maguire was released. He has fond memories of playing with Spider-Man character water squirters found in cereal boxes as a child. While a nursing student at The Ohio State University College of Nursing, Phil bought two custom-fit Spider-Man costumes, inspired by PlayStation 4’s Spider-Man game. The first costume was black and white like in the video game and the second had the more traditional Spider-Man colors of red and black. A quick walk around the block off campus turned into showing up at Ohio State football games and roaming campus passing out candy bars with inspirational notes to students during exam week or sharing his umbrella when it was raining.

Since his face is covered up by the mask, Phil uses grand gestures to communicate with others like rolling his arms, dancing and doing a Block O. Because the suit is so tight, he has to be careful he doesn’t pop out of it. He’s busted a few seams and had to learn how to sew from his father. Even putting on the costume is difficult — he has to twist his body to get into it. Looking out of it is like wearing a pair of short binoculars. His Instagram page, @OSUSpidey, highlights the benefits of staying mentally and physically fit (he works out at the gym at least five times a week).

Phil Re in a Spiderman suit and Brutus Buckeye

While doing a photo shoot in preparation for his “Good Morning America” appearance, Phil is dressed up as Spider-Man, sharing stories about his favorite superhero while posing for photos with medical center staff and patients. “Hey Spidey! Can I get a picture with you?” an Environmental Services employee exclaims as he runs over to Phil, who immediately gives him a thumbs up. Spotting a nurse on her way to work, Phil makes a heart with his hands and tosses it to her. Smiling, the nurse pretends to capture it and pulls it close to her heart. Later, Phil surprises his co-workers who’ve never seen him dressed up. Stepping off the elevator on the 10th floor of Doan, he strolls up to the nurses station and leans in to peals of laughter. “Is that you Phil? Too funny!” a nursing colleague laughs as she hugs him.

Nurse Phil Re in a Spider-Man costume next to his co-worker
Phil Re is always ready to bring a smile to co-workers’ faces with a quick Spidey-pose.

Phil first became interested in becoming a nurse at age 16 when he volunteered at Fairview Hospital in Cleveland as part of his service hours for National Honor Society. While helping discharge patients, he discovered that he enjoyed talking with them and thought a career in nursing would be a good fit. He graduated from the Ohio State College of Nursing in 2021 and started working at the Wexner Medical Center in the summer of 2020 and became a staff nurse last June, taking care of bariatric and colorectal surgery patients.

The pandemic forced him to pause dressing up and entertaining students on campus. Even though he had a mask on, he could no longer offer hugs or hand out treats. He’s looking forward to returning to his costumed days.

“I’ve missed it. It’s fun to bring out a smile. There have been some moments that really stand out, like on Random Acts of Kindness Day when a student said, ‘This really made my day — I was having a really bad day,’” he says.

Watch OSU Spidey's appearance on “Good Morning America”

Spider-Man in a squat pose on a wall with The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center building on a background
@OSUSpidey strikes a pose in front of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.
Phil Re at the new Marvel movie premiere
Phil Re was joined by his father at the Hollywood premiere of the Marvel movie, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Phil was selected to receive a trip to the premiere by “Good Morning America.”
Phil Re at the new Marvel movie premiere
Phil Re brought out a little of OSU Spidey’s flair on the red carpet in Hollywood.

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