The Amazing Spider-Man: Whose job is it, anyway?

Posted: July 17, 2012 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Action, Drama
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Like most of the film critics out there, I too questioned the need for another reboot of the Spiderman franchise just ten years after the 2002 Tobey Maguire latest rendition.  And, I really didn’t think I needed to watch the story of how Peter Parker became Spiderman all over again either.  So, if it wasn’t for a visit from grandpa over the July 4th holiday, our family probably would have had to wait for the DVD.  But, as a lifelong Spider-Man devotee, I can honestly say, I was very glad to see The Amazing Spider-Man in the theater.  It was well worth it.

Before we delve into one of the major worldview themes, here’s a few of my random observations:  I definitely liked this “origin” story better than the 2002 film.  Andrew Garfield was a darker, less whiny Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire–even if he reminded me too much of the positively dreadful Hayden Christensen in Star Wars II.  I also liked Emma Stone better than Kristen Dunst, as well as the relationship between Peter and Gwen.  Denis Leary always plays a great cop.  Rhys Ifans was a fairly dull bad guy.  I teared up (and possibly even cried) four different times– I don’t remember doing that in 2002.  The Amazing Spider-Man was definitely more emotionally intense than its predecessor.  Overall, I would have to say it was a better Spider-Man film.

As is the case with most superhero movies, there are plenty of political and social issues we could talk about.  Scientific research is used and abused to try to heal people from disease.  The evolution of the species is put forth as truth, with man needing to actually evolve more to become as strong and virulent as the animals.  The themes of revenge and justice are also present.  And, there is even the question of should we keep promises or is it better to break them.  You can definitely have plenty of good discussions with your children on these items alone.

But the best theme in The Amazing Spider-Man has to do with calling and responsibility.  In the film, we are re-introduced to a Peter Parker who is truly a lost soul–an orphan, an outsider, an apathetic high schooler, a loser.   The death of his parents is later compounded by the death of his Uncle Ben.  His uncle’s death is the last straw, turning Peter’s deep-seated anger into rage and revenge.  His newly found superpowers now give him the opportuntity to fight back against bullies and seek the man who killed his uncle.  It actually takes the saving a young boy (who was a picture of himself) for Peter to grab hold of his calling to rescue and protect people from the evil of this world.

The pivotal scene in the movie is when Peter decides he needs to go after the evil mutant Lizard to essentially save all the citizens of New York City.  While in the arms of his Gwen his girlfriend, she tells Peter: “That isn’t your job!” (to defeat the Lizard).  Peter asks her a rhetorical question in response: “What if it is?”  Peter now possesses the strong sense of calling and responsibility that his Uncle Ben tried to teach him before he died.  In a world where most people think “it’s not my job,” Peter knew that it was his job to save others from certain death and destruction.  [By the way, even Gwen’s dad, a New York City police captain, also tries to convince Peter that it wasn’t Spider-Man’s job.  Thankfully, Peter doesn’t listen to him either!]

And so, we have a picture of Christ in The Amazing Spider-Man.  Jesus knew His job, His calling, and his responsibility.  He fully and wholeheartedly embraced it–recognizing and understanding the ultimate violence, pain, and shame.  And, He perfectly completed His job as Savior of His people on the cross.  No one else could have done His job for mankind!

But we also have a picture of the Christian in The Amazing Spider-Man.  All Christians are called to be used by God to save those who are lost and under the control of the Kingdom of Darkness.  It’s tempting to think that this is the work of the “superhero” Christians–the pastors, evangelists, missionaries, authors, etc.  But these full-time gospel ministers are not the only ones called to the job of sharing the only gospel that delivers from evil.  Every believer must embrace his or her call to save the lost by the power of the Spirit.

Now, we’re not given spidey-senses, super spidey-strength, or sticky spidey-hands for wall-walking. Thankfully, we are given something much, much better–the gifts of the Spirit and the armor of God!  These powerful tools given by the Spirit must not be used for selfish gain or just stowed away to avoid trouble.  Gwen’s fearful words (“That’s not your job!”) are not to be bouncing around in our heads as believers.  It is our job!  We are all called to action!  Evil is on the loose all the time, and we are to stand against it.  Praise God that he equips us and is gracious to use us to destroy the works of Satan and advance the Kingdom of God!

  1. emkpk says:

    Others tried telling Jesus the cross wasn’t his job as well, like Peter in Mark 8, and Satan’s 3 temptations (4 if you count the Peter incident)… That’s a connection I didn’t make coming away from the movie, so thanks for that! Very insightful.

    I was hung up on Aunt May’s comment at the end, “Peter, you’re a good person. If anyone says differently they can talk to me.” When the totality of the movie showed that Peter’s core desire was driven by vengeance; which the movie, I think anyway, portrayed as wrong. It wasn’t until he was called out on it by the Police Chief coupled with the young boy on the bridge that he realized his calling and changed. If he wasn’t “called” to something greater he would have stayed in the alleyways seeking vengeance… Hollywood has a habit of adding bad one liners at the end of an otherwise good movie. *cough* Brave *cough*

    But other than the last 2 minutes, the overall themes are great, and I agree, better than the 1st Spiderman… Though I will miss J.K. Simmons.

  2. jperritt says:

    Great points emkpk! I will miss Simmons as well 😦

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