Monday, May 7, 2007

Concupiscence and Forgiveness in Spiderman III

(May contain some spoiler material)
Last night we went to the late-night showing of Spiderman III, the third movie of one of the most successful superhero franchises ever. Sure, the special effects were cool and the film was exciting, but the film blew me away with two oft-neglected themes: concupiscence and forgiveness. The story itself isn't much different from the other two Spiderman films--humble but brilliant Peter Parker struggles to maintain a relationship with the people he loves while still fighting the ridiculously powerful bad guys that flock to his city. "Where do these guys come from?" He asks, shaking his head.

Spiderman III succeeds where the original Star Wars Trilogy shone: by showing that the fight between good and evil really begins inside the human heart, and that all the battles, wars, and conflicts of the cosmos are just manifestations of this original internal dialogue of man. There is some great symbolism with the black spider suit (which is actually an alien shape-shifter parasite/symbiont life form). The suit really does give him power, aggression, and confidence: and he really does have the choice to put on and take off the suit, after he realizes what it does.
He has the choice to put it on and take it off. . . at first. Then it becomes more and more difficult to take it off: he begins wearing it during his normal life, drawing power from it and hurting those he loves. When he finally decides to remove the black suit, he almost can't. It has become deeply joined to him, and he must physically tear it off of himself. Sin, once it becomes habitual, can be as difficult to remove as our very skin: it's significant that Peter climbs up a Church steeple and tears off his parasitic suit in the bell tower, beneath the cross of the steeple. The next scene is one of purification--Peter returns home and stands beneath the spray of a hot shower--literally and figuratively washing himself clean of his sin. Baptismal imagery anyone?

The theme of forgiveness follows on this theme of free will and sin: we see that when evil is done, vengeance does not bring closure or healing. Spiderman confronts his Uncle's ACTUAL killer (the movie explains this discrepancy with the first film), and the killer says something like "I don't ask you to forgive me, just that you understand." At this, Peter Parker says the best line in the whole film: "I forgive you." When he says it, it's almost like he's discovering the words and the feeling for the first time: it's a well-acted scene in which he himself is suprised by forgiveness and the healing it brings. This newfound Truth bears him directly to the side of his dying friend/nemesis/archrival, Harry, where he asks him for (and receives) forgiveness. TWO acts of forgiveness in the span of ten minutes. Granted, they don't satisfactorily reconcile him with his estranged girlfriend, althought it's sort of implied--they had to leave that for the NEXT film. Nonetheless, I thought it was a powerful testament to the healing that forgiveness and mercy bring.

There were a few things that I didn't like about the film: it's too long, it's full of complicated relationship stuff (a bit soap opera-y), and it's just your basic action film--the cinematography is nothing too special.

I did really like the French waiter, though: he's absolutely hilarious.


Leticia said...

I have to give you credit; I never thought you could see so much spiritual depth in a comic-book movie. Well done.
Martin Harold, and Skyminder, you are hereby tagged with the Movie Meme. To play, you leave 5 clues each for your ten favorite movies, using IMBD tags. Your friends guess which movies they are in the comment box. Then, you tag three bloggers with the Meme.
I can't wait to try and guess your clues!

Skyminder said...

Martin, does this make any sense to you? I don't know what the word "Meme" means, and I think I know what IMDB is, if there was a transliteration there in the original comment. As to what an IMDB tag is, I have no clue. I like the idea of the game, I just don't understand the format for leaving clues.

Martin Harold said...

I haven't the faintest idea either. Leticia, do you mind elaborating? it sounds fun.

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