While I certainly do not suggest turning to Hollywood for spiritual instruction, I do get excited to see biblical truths being reflected in popular films. If we take time to examine those magical movie moments – those “quotable quotes” which really grip our hearts – we will usually find that these lines of dialogue touch our hearts so deeply because they strike at biblical truths.
This is what happened as my wife and I watched Amazing Spider Man 2, which has now been released on DVD and is available at Redbox. Like most boys, I grew up reading Spider-Man comics and love this tale of an ordinary teen who comes to realize that he has – and has always had – extraordinary potential. As far as the movie itself is concerned, I found it quite disappointing. The film was too long, really seemed to drag at times, and featured many supporting actors who went way over the top in their effort to embody comic book characters. The result was a mediocre film that simply fails to sparkle.
In spite of its shortcomings, this film does present viewers with a few dazzling moments. One is the artistic way the producers present Gwen Stacy’s infamous “falling scene,” which truly captures the essence of a great comic-book experience on film. The other moments which really grabbed my attention were able to do so because of the inspirational dialogue. As often happens as I view movies through my “Christian lens,” I realized that much of this dialogue was resonating deeply with my heart because it resonates deeply with Scripture.
Here are a few examples:
Beacons of Hope in the Darkness
Throughout the film, Peter Parker draws inspiration from the commencement speech delivered by his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, on their graduation day. With wisdom beyond her years, Stacy encourages her classmates not to lose heart when life gets hard, but to be the light that others desperately need in times of darkness.
“It’s easy to feel hopeful on a beautiful day like today, but there will be dark days ahead of us too. There will be days where you feel all alone, and that’s when hope is needed most. No matter how buried it gets, or how lost you feel, you must promise me that you will hold on to hope. Keep it alive. We have to be greater than what we suffer.
My wish for you is to become hope; people need that. And even if we fail, what better way is there to live? As we look around here today, at all of the people who helped make us who we are, I know it feels like we’re saying goodbye, but we will carry a piece of each other into everything that we do next, to remind us of who we are, and of who we’re meant to be.”
Gwen Stacy – Amazing Spider-Man 2
There is powerful truth to be found in this graduation speech, and it is great example of excellent script-writing. It also happens to reflect the “pep talk” delivered by Paul to the Corinthians, when he told them to delight in trials and failures, because it is in those moments that God is able to work most mightily through us and our lives are able to shine the brightest.
“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
The Danger of the Need to Be Seen
“I just wanted everybody to see me…”
Max Dillon – Amazing Spider-Man 2
The film’s primary villain is a nondescript janitor named Max Dillon, who dreams of being in the public spotlight the way Spider-Man is. When a scientific experiment gone bad provides him with super powers, he has his chance. But his pride leads him to a violent path, full of death and destruction.
As Christians, I’m sure we rarely think of ourselves as villains. However, if we really examine our hearts we might discover that we often do crave the praise and attention of others, and that our hearts are just as corrupt as Dillon’s. When we think too highly of the opinions of other people – either because we fear them or because we idolize them – we give them power over us and fall into an age-old trap. On the flip side, if we can learn to fear the LORD first and foremost and ignore the opinion of others, He will be able to accomplish great things through us.
“The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.”
Allowing God to Transform Our Innermost Heart
“Everyone has a part of themselves they hide. Even from the people they love most.”
Aunt May – Amazing Spider-Man 2
In her deep wisdom, Aunt May understands that Peter is attempting to bury his deepest grief and pain far within the depths of his own heart, and that it is eating him up inside. As Christians, we need to stop assuming that our friends and neighbors don’t need us or our prayers because everything seems to be going fine, and realize that most people harbor overwhelming amounts of hidden grief. Each person in our churches, schools, and workplaces bears their own secret pain, and all of them need us to minister to them and be Christ to them.
And we’re not off the hook, by the way! Even the most mature Christian needs to renew their heart daily, asking the Lord to reveal those negative thoughts which they’ve tried to bury deep inside and allowing Him to take those things and exchange them for the peace, healing, and restored hope that only He can provide.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’”
I Samuel 16:7
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts.”
Are You a Web-Slinging Christian?
Overall, I would imagine most viewers will find Amazing Spider-Man 2 to be a bit childish for their tastes, since it certainly does seem to be aimed toward a younger audience than its counterpart from the 90s. If you enjoy the quirky dialogue and the minimalist artwork of comic books, however, then you’ll find something to love about this film.
And for those who are striving to live for Christ each day, you will find several “golden moments” which cause you to stop and ask yourself which movie character you are most like. Are you more of a self-absorbed villain, or a web-slinging hero who is willing to endure great personal suffering to carry on your mission of taking Christ to a world in need?
The choice is yours.