Higher Movies: Spider-Man 3

by Stan Lemon

[Spoilers follow...]

The final installation of the Spider-Man Trilogy opened on May 4th, which is supposed to wrap up a number of plot lines from the first two movies, particularly Peter and Mary Jane's relationship and Harry's burning desire for revenge. Spider-Man 3 has a lot to live up to, after the first two movies. Unfortunately, the only expectation Spider-Man 3 lived up to was the initial box office revenues, breaking the record previously held by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (another bad sequel) with a whopping 59.3 million dollars.

The third movie introduces three villains and more fight scenes than any of the previous movies. It's also tainted with numerous convenient twists that allowed the director to end in a hopelessly romantic clash of duos and a fallen bad-guy-turned-hero. Take, for example, the revelation made by Harry's butler, who appears out of nowhere, to let him know that his father died by his own hand. This sudden turn of luck for Peter Parker can be coined as nothing more than a convenient addition to the story line.

Amidst bad dialogue and a poor storyline, cinematographically, the movie leaves much to be desired. The first two movies were excellent examples of action-packed CGI, with Spider-Man flipping through the air doing incredible moves with special attention to detail. I'm honestly not sure if that attention to detail was in this latest installment, because every time a fight scene came the camera was moving too fast to see what was going on. Worse yet, the problem wasn't just the CGI - the scene with the police officers searching for Sandman in the semi-truck was equally challenging to watch.

While Spider-Man 3 didn't live up the reputation of its predecessors (a growing trend for Marvel-made movies) it does have something to teach us about sin. Much of the movie focuses on a gooey black substance that oozes its way out of a meteor and absorbs itself into Peter Parker. This substance amplifies Peter's anger and his pride, consequently he becomes more concerned with himself than those around him. This substance, in a nutshell, is sin which becomes even more vividly so as Peter struggles to rid himself of it - conveniently on the bell tower of a cathedral.

Eddie Brock a.k.a. Venom, played by Topher Grace, is overtaken by this same gooey substance. In the final battle scene, we see Spider-Man trying to persuade Venom from the substance, to reject it and turn from it. Instead, Eddie Brock confesses that he likes being Venom, he likes being evil, and he has no desire to separate himself from the substance which ultimately permeates his very being. In the end Eddie dies, clinging to his sin - actually grasping after it - refusing to let go.

Sin isn't much different than this gooey substance, it permeates our existence, defining who we are and what we do. And we revel in it. Some even continue to cling to it even when faced with their own death. The Lord doesn't leave us with just the gooey black death though, He leaves us with His Son who takes away our sin so that we might live in grace by the forgiveness He won for us on the Cross.

Forgiveness is another underlying theme of Spider-Man 3, we find Sandman (conveniently the new killer of Parker's Uncle Ben) telling Spider-Man "I'm not asking for your forgiveness, just your understanding." Here Sandman's got forgiveness all wrong. He's less concerned with reconciliation than he is with sympathy. This is the very antithesis of the Christian faith. Our Lord doesn't sympathize with our sin, He simply eradicates it - forgiving it all. What good would sympathy have done for Sandman anyhow?

Earlier in the movie Aunt May testifies that with forgiveness "you start by forgiving yourself". Again we have a poor understanding of forgiveness, the same understanding that Sandman has. For Aunt May and Sandman, forgiveness works inside of themselves, its an action on their parts. We know this is not true, the Lord works forgiveness when and where He pleases, whether it be at the font or on the altar or in the words of your Pastor, and we sit as passive receivers of this gift.

Peter Parker is caught up in this worldly understanding of forgiveness too, which goes hand-in-hand with his struggle against sin (the gooey stuff). Just as worldly forgiveness doesn't resolve anything, so the movie ends with a dead friend, an unmended relationship, and a super-hero still seeking purpose and meaning in life. Then the credits roll...

Fortunately for you and I, who have been forgiven once and for all in the waters of Holy Baptism, there's more than just the credits at the end of the movie.

Our Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross at Calvary, winning forgiveness, life and salvation for all. He defeated that gooey black substance in order that we wouldn't be left to fend against it ourselves, like Spider-Man. In the end, our purpose is found in Him and our meaning in the gifts He gives us daily and richly for our nourishment. So when the credits roll it's not the end of the movie, but the beginning of eternal life in heaven above.

Created: June 4th, 2007