It has to do with physical forces that only work on the nano-scale.
Van der Waals adhesion was first noticed in the gecko, but it's an important mechanism in many other animals. Hm, what else climbs on smooth, often vertical surfaces...
That's why X-Men nemesis and member of the Brotherhood of Mutants villain Toad is a more logically sticky character.
Amphibians do have a slightly different adhesive style however, and a more wet one. Wet adhesion means that we're not as interested in adapting tree frog toepads into industrial nanomaterials because they require a constant reapplication of fluids, whereas gecko feet are more clean and can operate without a living gecko. Recent research has shown that tree frogs do appear to employ some close contact attractive forces with surfaces.
Going back to industrial applications, where is my gecko tape?? Rest assured, engineers are working on it as we speak. Andre Geim has had success in replicating the functional nanostructures of gecko feet and making workable gecko tape. The process still needs to be refined, however, before it can be made on a bigger scale and as durable as the gecko feet themselves. The dream of nearly infinitely reusable and mess-free tape is nearly upon us!
So if gecko tape can be successfully fabricated, would it be possible to make those gloves Tom Cruise is using to climb the Burj Khalifa? Yes! Spiderman can become a reality in the near future. Although while I don't doubt the ability of the gloves to stick to walls, how do you keep said gloves from slipping off your hands...? In the meantime, we've adapted these adhesive
And since I mentioned Toad, I need to share with you my favorite superhero science lesson of all time: