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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Spiderman 3...What Symbolism Reveals

I finally took the kids to see Spiderman 3 today. They wanted to go see it as soon as it came out, but we waited so it wouldn’t be so crowded. While I liked Spiderman 1 and 2 better for their storylines, I really enjoyed the symbolism in this one.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you might want to wait before reading this.
One of the main antagonists in the movie was a black substance that, once attached to a host, was almost impossible to shed. Peter Parker became engulfed with it at a point in the movie when he was consumed with anger at the man who killed his uncle….a different man than who was originally thought to have done it. As he lay in bed haunted with nightmares that were spurred on by anger at his uncle’s killer still roaming free and guilt for having killed the man originally thought to have done it, the substance engulfed him. It became the black Spiderman suit that changed Peter Parker into the violent, uncaring character in the movie. Once the evil suit became him, it began to destroy him. While he hurt others in wearing it, it was himself that suffered the most.Isn’t this so true of what anger and guilt will do to us? There have been many times in my life when I have worn anger or guilt around like an article of clothing. The very power of my mind’s ability to fuel the anger or justify the guilt prevented me from shedding it. I struck out at others, while dying inside, begging myself to let it go, yet finding myself incapable of doing so. Only when Peter Parker realized what the “anger” was doing to him, was he able to shed it….free himself from it.
The same substance that presented itself as anger and guilt with Peter, consumed another character for his unwillingness to forgive. As with Peter, the substance engulfed him and turned him into an evil, revenge seeking character. However, this character did not see the substance for what it was and allowed it to consume him completely. Although Peter was able to pull him from it, he was drawn back into it and killed by it because he never made the decision on his own to let it go. Although anger and guilt are hard emotions to carry around, I have learned that nothing eats away at a person’s very being the way that unforgivness can. I have tried to let it go by beating it to death with revenge, only to feed it with the guilt that follows. I have claimed to forgive, while only hiding the unforgivness….afraid that by letting it go that I have somehow justified the cause of it. The character in Spiderman chose die for the sake of hanging onto that black, evil suit of unforgivness. I thank God for teaching me that, only by forgiving, can I free myself from it.
One more illustration of symbolism that really stands out to me focuses on a person’s choice to choose between good and evil. Harry, the Green Goblin of Spiderman 3, struggled throughout the movie with his need to avenge his father’s death by killing Spiderman verses his loyalty to Spiderman, born from a lifetime of friendship. While this struggle was prevalent throughout the movie, it manifested itself in a material way when Harry became severely scarred on one side of his face as a result of his attack on Spiderman. Only when Spiderman came to Harry begging for his help in saving Mary Jane, did he see Harry’s face, terribly disfigured on one side while remaining untouched on the other. At that point, Harry had to make the decision to hang on to his need for revenge, or do what his heart was pleading for him to do…reach out to his friend during his moment of need. This internal division of his conscious was so perfectly symbolized in his outward appearance….good verses evil….right from wrong…..the beauty of that which makes a heart feel clean, hidden in the shadow of something so hideous that it is impossible to ignore.
I think every Christian can relate to Harry’s internal struggle. It didn’t take me long to learn, after becoming saved during my first year in college, that God uses a person’s conscious to speak to him on a daily basis. I grew up knowing right from wrong, but never felt the consequence of making wrong choices as strongly as when God began to use my conscious to show me my sin….a constant mirror revealing to me the person that God desires me to be compared to the person that my sin nature causes me to become. It was in personally knowing this struggle that I could relate to Harry. The evil that was unpleasant to look at on Harry’s face perfectly depicted what is even more painful to feel in a burdened heart.
So, while Spiderman 3 did not “wow” me as the first two Spiderman movies did, I will remember it for much longer. What it might have lacked in plot, it made up for in what it revealed to me about myself. While an audience may not be able to relate to super heroes and villains on a personal level, if it can grasp the symbolism so evident in this movie, then it will feel like it has connected, in some way, with the characters….not because they are “super”, but because they are not.

6 Comments:

Blogger Lauren S. said...

Thanks for this post! I really had no interest in seeing this movie, but now I just might have to! How great that you could come away with some great lessons from the movie!

7:46 AM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Yes, my hubby and I saw it and I thought many of the same things...thanks for writing this post! Really great!

1:37 PM  
Blogger K said...

Great post, Sherri. I haven't seen the movie, but I can relate to the ideas you shared about anger, guilt and especially about unforgiveness.

I am going to show this to my dh since he saw the movie and see if he can relate at all.

10:17 PM  
Blogger pete said...

is the bell prayer?....

6:25 PM  
Blogger pete said...

got it
"Bells signify the supposed power of church-bells to disperse evil spirits in the air and their invocation of guardian saints and angels"
powerful stuff, people!

6:28 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

Hi Pete,
Where did you get the quote about the bell?

1:31 AM  

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