Thursday, November 8, 2007

spiderman and me

*Spoiler alert* don't read this if you haven't seen Spiderman 3, unless you have absolutely no interest in seeing it, in which case read on.

During the last couple of weeks Steve and I watched all three Spiderman movies. Yes, I know, don't tell me, I'm a wonderful wife. Actually I enjoyed them, I'm a sucker for a corny action movie, and I made him watch "Miss Potter" in payment. And he enjoyed that too, we're very movie compatible - except for that movie about intergalactic bugs disembowelling people, I wasn't so keen on that.

Steve and I are catching up on all the movies we didn't see while raising babies, using Blockbuster vouchers from the back of packets of Just Right, the only cereal our kids will eat regularly, and also the main reason we're now in debt. Hey, maybe I should get Kellog's to sponsor my blog, with all this free advertising!

What struck me about Spiderman 3 was how eerily Spidey's life story echoed my own. You know, super smart nerd with super hero double life, complete with sexy partner...hey, if it wasn't for my arachnophobia (and gender) I could, like, so be him.

Seriously, I thought the film was an interesting (if somewhat obvious - I have to say that so I sound sophisticated) illustration of the dynamics of humility and forgiveness (note the use of film critic speak.)

The film opens with Spiderman as an arrogant and insensitive young man, puffed up with adulation and success; followed by a descent into evil, forcing him to realise the depths of his own hatred and desire for revenge; and ends with his new-found humility enabling him to forgive the man who killed his uncle.

You may have heard my own story (too many times, no doubt) - how I prayed for humility as a young, proud woman, sure of my own desire and ability to do what was right; followed by years of struggling with my sinful tendencies; resulting in, I hope, deeper humility and a greater willingness to understand and forgive others.

But Spidey and my stories diverge at a very important point: the film reminds us repeatedly that Peter Parker is really a "good" young man, and it's only the evil suit which brings out his aggressive tendencies. (If you haven't already seen the movie, surely you want to now - I mean evil suit, who wouldn't want to see that!) And in the end, he is able to forgive his enemy because he realises he wasn't really so bad after all, only sad, desperate and misunderstood.

The "evil" characters in the three movies do get their just desserts - death and destruction - but never really through Spiderman's hand, and they are all good people at heart, turned to evil through no great fault of their own.

Whereas I have no doubt about my inner tendency to self-love and self-centredness: it goes right to the core, as it does for all of us. There is no "evil suit" which can conveniently be removed to reveal the good within. Death and destruction are exactly what I deserve, for I have committed the ultimate evil: I have failed to serve the God who made me, and have served myself instead.

Which is why I, like you, and every else on this planet, desperately need a different kind of super hero: one who, instead of shooting the bad guys with super speedy bits of web (gotta love that) takes a less conventional path. Like Spiderman, Jesus could have swung into planet Earth and killed all the bad guys, but instead he allowed them to kill him, accepting death and destruction on my (and their) behalf. And like all the best movie heroes and villains, he came back from the dead - only for real, this time.

And if I am able to forgive others, in the end it's only because I know exactly how much I have been forgiven: everything.

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