Thursday, 10 May 2007

Spiderman 3: 'The greatest battle lies within'

Today I went to see Spiderman 3. I'd not actually had the chance to see either of the previous Spiderman films, and I have to admit that my expectations for it were fairly low, but I came away both entertained and pleasantly surprised by the film.

For one thing, Spiderman's latest outing includes more food for thought that your standard action movie. Another very obvious thing was that there were interesting questions about Spiderman's motives. Just as in the latest Bond film, 'Casino Royale', James Bond was portrayed as far from perfect, Peter Parker and his alter-ego Spiderman didn't exactly come out whiter than white either. It's an interesting thing that postmodernity seems to have brought to our attention: rarely (if ever) is anything or anyone ever objectively 'good' or objectively 'evil'.

The sub-title to Spiderman 3 is 'the greatest battle lies within', and so the film sees Spiderman wrestling between good and evil desires within. Spiderman can choose his customary red suit, or an alien-compounded black suit that exacerbates one's own evil nature. Although he admits that there is something appealing about the black suit, Spidey eventually chooses good over evil. The moral lesson at the end of the film is that, 'we always have choices and it is the choices that define who we are'.

I came away thinking about two things that came out powerfully in the film. Firstly - forgiveness. The film sees Spiderman forgiving the man who shot his uncle to death because, as the Spiderman character admits, 'I've done some pretty bad things too.' Spiderman forgives because he recognises that he too needs to be forgiven. To withhold forgiveness of other people is therefore hypocrisy if we expect to be forgiven. Of course, this was something that Jesus taught time and again (see Matthew 18:21-35), particularly with regard to our forgiveness from God. Those who need forgiveness then have a basis for forgiving others.

My second line of thought followed Spiderman's evil nature, that was brought to life by the black suit. Eventually the suit is destroyed as Spiderman chooses good over evil, in stark contrast to one of the other characters in the film (someone who, actually, is very similar to Peter Parker). New York can live happily ever after. Or can it? Because presumably the evil latent inside Parker lies there to be abused in the future. Spiderman 3 correctly diagnoses the problem - 'the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart' - but unfortunately can do no more. Spiderman's evil remains there, just as it lies in each of our hearts. Praise God that Jesus came, not to condemn us but to bring us new life and new hearts (John 3:8).

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