Sunday, June 03, 2007

Spider-Man 3

Spider-Man 3 is a tangled web of revenge: Harry Osburn blames Peter Parker for the death of his father. Eddie Brock hates Peter Parker for causing him to lose his job. Flint Marko is to blame for the death of Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben . . . and when Peter finds out surely he too will want revenge.

The complicated and broken relationships of the characters attract the attention of the black, oozing symbiote from outer space. The symbiote thrives on hatred, revenge, and lust. It turns Spider-Man into “Dark Spider-Man.” Later it leeches onto Eddie Brock and becomes Venom. Interestingly the symbiote does not change the host, but only magnifies the worst characteristics of the host. It is a darkness that is nurtured by sinister and selfish desires.

Spider-Man 3 gives us a brilliant depiction of sin that is not unlike the anthropomorphic description of sin in Genesis 4. In that ancient account, God warns Cain that his hatred toward his brother Abel is attracting sin to his doorstep. Sin is crouching outside waiting for Cain to open the door and let it in. God urges Cain to get the upper hand on sin lest it consume him and have its way with him. The Genesis 4 story is mirrored in the movie in a scene in which Peter is drawn to the box in the closet in which he hides the symbiote. Peter is tempted to open the box and let the symbiote consume him. As with Cain, the consequences are terrible.

Spider-Man 3 trades on the clichéd movie theme that we all have a dark side. However, this movie departs from the cliché in the way that the dark side is overcome by the heroes – and even a few of the villains. Rather than admonish us to accept the dark side or exercise enough will power to resist it, our heroes choose to forgive. Harry forgives Peter. Mary Jane forgives Peter. Peter even forgives Flint Marko, the Sandman, who is partly responsible for the death of Uncle Ben. In doing so, Peter lets go of his own guilt for Uncle Ben’s death. The rich symbolism of the Sandman fading away on the winds and the dawn of a new day is not to be missed.

Spider-Man 3 is visually exciting and magical. The storytelling remains as fun and funny as the previous movies. Unlike the first and second movies, Spider-Man 3 is more than a good versus evil morality tale. Perhaps Stan Lee would agree with me that it is a mighty Marvel pulp-fiction parable of full-color forgiveness and super-heroic spirituality! Excelsior!

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