Angry, Spiritual Spiderman

Much like an Old Testament prophet whose message was ignored or scorned, Joesnake spoke long ago about Spiderman 3 and its spiritual impact. I confess I was one of the skeptics throwing a few jocular pebbles at the ludicrous proposition of a Spiderman-inspired spirituality. (So Marvel Comics is the MTV-generation alternative to a robust Inductive Study?) Despite the jocularity, Joesnake stuck to his Spidey-position with the tenacity of the old web-head himself.

Like the despised prophets of old, but still holding on.

And Joe was right.

What can I say? I thought of apologizing, but how is it possible without jocularity despoiling any semblance of sincerity? So I wrote this blog instead.

I watched Spiderman 3 for the first time last night with Sean and Connor (that youngster asked how I got it a week before the DVD’s release, which posited ethical conundrums…). But just as Joesnake forebode, and much to my delightful surprise, here was a movie from beginning to end depicting the freedom of forgiveness juxtaposed with the depravity of resentment, and all the struggles of vacillating heart-rage!

Watching a movie with Sean and Connor is like Joe’s Bedford football games with interminable loudspeaker commentary. It drives poor Darlene crazy. But a movie means non-stop relating for us. What a joy! I cherish these moments forever. (Parents do that, you know, but kids don’t as much, being love-takers.) I pray Connor remembers the Spiderman Love Ethics we talked about when he sinks into that dark hole called Junior High and emerges a young man. Oh, how I will miss that happy, high kid-voice!

It’s an fascination fact that anger starts out feeling bad but then feels so good because endorphins are triggered similar to physical exercise, research shows. I believe it. I’ve often embellished in a good bout of anger, even if people around me don’t enjoy it as much. This is what happens to Peter Parker and he devours anger in a smorgasbord of self-indulgent blood-revenge, ravaging his ability to love and steam-rolling good people in his life. What follows are some of the life-lessons the movie’s commentators observed in Spiderman’s life.

Lessons in Anger

Venom courses through his veins…

All these points and more were graphically depicted in the latest Spiderman movie:

  • Anger so easily lashes out against the innocent, well-intentioned people nearby! Yet it’s so reserved and crafty around the ones we actually blame. This is why so much anger never gets resolved, it only spreads…like a “poisonous root of bitterness” that “grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” (Heb. 12:15)
  • Anger is depravity in-motion. It devours the owner’s personality and leaves behind a manufactured, almost lifeless creature filled with rage, “whose end is destruction…whose glory is in their shame.” (Phil. 3:19) Peter Parker’s embittered colleague became an angry non-person as dark rage coursed through his veins. The movie’s special effects actually depicted this in Venom, the black, oily creature that wrapped around its victims and encased them inside.
  • Anger overpowers free will and steers its own course with runaway chemical reactions fueling a furnace of emotions. Upon hearing how Spiderman killed his enemies with glee, his aged aunt shook her head in disbelief and said, “But Spiderman doesn’t kill.” So it was with Cain, whose anger is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:7)
  • Anger creates fools. It explodes in rash acts deeply regretted in retrospect. All of Spiderman’s outbursts of anger were painfully regretted once he regained sanity. So too, “A man of great anger will bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again.” (Prov. 19:19) It means that when Enablers kick into gear as their enabled hosts get angry, all that enabling only perpetrates more suffering long into the future.
  • Anger is a primitive, self-indulgent emotion so deceptively rewarding. “I love it! It feels good!” the embittered victim of Venom told Spiderman just before he was consumed in flames. What a graphic metaphor! “For anger slays the foolish man, And jealousy kills the simple.” (Job 5:2)
  • The anger of revenge is not ours to exercise, because sinful flesh is so blinded by selfish ambition. Spiderman was consumed with revenge against Sandman, but never know how Sandman was actually saving a little girl from an agonizing death, and Sandman’s crime was accidental and something he deeply regretted. The old aunt put it well: “It’s not our place to decide who’s guilty and who’s not.” So too the Bible says, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine , I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Rom. 12:19)

As Sean shared some of his Junior High experiences with consuming anger, Connor asked naively, “Is it necessary for everyone to go through that?” What a terrible question. How do you explain that dark future to be filled by so many scars to someone losing his childhood?

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3 thoughts on “Angry, Spiritual Spiderman

  1. lbeech

    I got to see this movie – I have always loved the Spiderman comics; now I have a reason to sit down and watch this show with my boys – making it a true family movie night!

    Thanks for putting down all the anger references too. It could be an excellent visual learning tool – now I can skip the blah blah speeches for which I am so famous. Maybe their eyes will not roll back into their heads as they slip into a mommy induced coma the next time I have to address their rage and vengence tendencies.

  2. joesnake

    See! I won’t even say “I told you so” but Sean agreed with me (if I remember right) when we first talked about it.

    This would be a great movie to show clips of or watch the whole thing for a teaching.

  3. J Small Z

    I didn’t know you made fun of Joe for believing Spider-man gave good ethics on Anger… There are so many instances in the movie that relate to the ethics of anger in the Bible…

    Now the real question is, were these happens in the movie intended or just coincidental?

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