The Amazing Spider-man is an action-packed fun ride for fans of the Marvel comics superhero. Eve Franklin and Chris Jones examine the morality and pseudo-science of this blockbuster from a Christian worldview.
If you grew up with Spiderman comic books or watched the Spiderman cartoons in the 90s, you’ll appreciate Spiderman’s return to the big screen in The Amazing Spider-man (2012). This high-action, effect-packed movie has all the hallmarks that made Spiderman one of the most-loved superheroes of multiple generations. Peter/Spidey’s biting sarcasm drips like acid in this return to the original characterization of the hero, and he shoots his web from his own invented web throwers—that can be broken and/or run out of web. This is why, in our opinion, this movie version easily surpasses the Spiderman trilogy starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst (2002, 2004, 2007). In short, The Amazing Spider-man was, in a word, amazing!
While we enjoyed The Amazing Spider-man, we do caution parents to beware that it does contain excessive violence and does have some language and a brief moment of partial undress of a woman (this was in a funny scene and was not sexual in any way), so please use discretion in taking children to see it. Just because it’s about a comic book superhero doesn’t necessarily mean that it is appropriate for all children.
The score by James Horner fit the mood and action of the movie and was quite enjoyable.
If you have yet to see the movie, be aware that there is an additional scene after the credits start rolling, so be sure to stay for at least the first few minutes of the credits. There is not a scene at the very end.
Don’t forget to check out the review at pluggedin.com.
The rest of these podcast shownotes and the audio episode contain spoilers.
The fun and humorous
Some of the many scenes we enjoyed in The Amazing Spider-man included a scene a where Captain Stacy makes allusion to Godzilla when Peter tells him that Doc Connors has become a giant lizard that is terrorizing the city:
Do I look like the mayor of Tokyo?
Also, the scene where Peter first becomes Spiderman shows him “accidentally” beating up some tough guys in a subway car. He apologizes through the entire incident because he really doesn’t understand or have any real control over what he is doing.
The requisite Marvel Stan Lee cameo was exceptionally funny. Stan Lee gets a lot of screen time but no lines. We think it is one of the funniest of the Stan Lee cameos to date.
Peter is a somewhat typical teenager in The Amazing Spider-man, awkward and tongue tied around the girl he’s attracted to. In one particular scene he makes and breaks a date with Gwen Stacy without ever completing a sentence—with her amused assistance.
We found this version of the Spiderman superhero to be much more accurate to the story we know from the original comics. He mouths off a lot both as Peter and Spiderman and those scenes were particularly good.
The responsibility to do good
One of the most repeated phrases, “With great power comes great responsibility,” associated with Spiderman as a character did not actually appear in The Amazing Spider-man, but the concept was well represented.
Uncle Ben: “If you can do good things for other people, you have a moral responsibility to do it.”
Unfortunately, the definition of good is a bit vague, and the qualification of doing good only to those who deserve it (i.e., good people) has interesting ramifications. Who are good people? According to the Bible, only God is good.
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. (Mark [10:18])
This moral responsibility as Uncle Ben refers to it is further qualified when we realize that if none of us is good (as the Bible says) then what God did for us in the person of Christ is greater than any superhero because he did it, not because of a moral responsibility to “good people” but while we are bad and undeserving.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8)
We see another side to this issue at the end of the movie when Peter finally listens to the voicemail that Uncle Ben left him before he was killed:
Uncle Ben: “You owe the world your gifts . . . come on home, Peter. You’re my hero.”
So it seems, according to this movie, that our moral obligation to do good things includes a debt to the world to use our gifts. I’m not sure exactly where the idea for that debt comes from, but I would rather say our debt is to God, not the world, and we are responsible to him for how we use the gifts/talents that He grants us (see Matthew [25:14]-30).
Peter: “This is my responsibility. I have to fix it.”
Peter takes a lot of responsibility for things going on throughout this movie because he turns out to have been the instigator of much that goes on, however, even when our actions create problems, it is not always within our power or even necessary for us to set things right. God works things out for His glory (Romans [8:28]), regardless of our intentions, good or bad. However, confession is good for the soul in that we should recognize when we do something wrong and acknowledge and accept the consequences (1 John 1:9).
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8, ESV)
Peter has a conversation with Capt. Stacy in which he tries to defend Spiderman’s vigilante actions by using good intentions as a justification, but as the popular saying goes “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Apart from obedience to God’s will, there is no way that man, out of his own power, can truly do good. We’re not omniscient like God and therefore cannot see or anticipate the consequences to our actions. God is our Savior and intercessor, not man, and we don’t live righteously by being vigilantes with good intentions.
I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4, ESV)
“Uncle Ben, You’re a pretty good dad.”
- Uncle Ben has “daddy issues” because he’s trying to be the father to his nephew, and it’s hard
- Peter has daddy issues because he was abandoned and then quasi-responsible for Ben’s murder
- Beginning sequence with young Peter searching for father during hide and seek, which is played out throughout the entire film; and we never actually get a straight answer about anything.
- Gwen Stacy has daddy issues because of the parallel nature between her father as a cop and her boyfriend as a vigilante; and then her dad is murdered by the Lizard.
- “All this is about getting even?” —fatherly advice, and Peter’s initial motivation for using his powers (trying to nab Uncle Ben’s murderer)
God is most often referred to as a Father in the New Testament. Christians have no excuse for having “daddy issues” for even if our human fathers fail us (and they will because they are human), God is the ultimate Father, and we can always look to him (1 John 3:1).
Superhero science—where imagination is the limit
The use of science in this film is extensive; science is the reason any of the characters have any special abilities. Though Peter’s powers come from an accident, Doc Connors’ gets his from a calculated experiment, heavily based on his worldview.
Doc Connors: “. . . create a world without weakness.” “no longer about curing ills but finding perfection.”
Creating perfection out of imperfection; why isn’t the world perfect, and why can’t we make it so? The world is not perfect for a very good reason. God created it perfect (see Genesis 1 and 2), mankind sinned and all of creation was cursed because of that (see Genesis 3 and Romans [8:18]-23). We can’t fix what God has cursed due to our sin. Only God can fix it (and He did that by providing Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for that sin.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set youfree in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,he condemned sin in the flesh,in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
Using science to cure sin never works out, and generally leads to mental instability, as in the case of Doc Connors, who loses his sanity as the lizard and takes actions that he as a man would not have done. There are also Nazi allusions—creating the perfect race. Biblically, we were created perfect and cursed by sin (Genesis 1, 3)
“One has to adapt to survive”
There is a very evolutionary reference to a “tree of life” and the discussion at Oscorp is all about cross species genetics. We don’t think species means what they think it means: species cross all the time, it’s how we get new species (which is why we’ll never accurately record every species on the planet). We think they mean something on the order of what creationists would call cross-kinds.
Talking about reptiles: “adapted to replace entire limbs at will.”
Reptiles would not be the best example of this kind of regeneration. A better example is the planarian flatworm (but it is “simple” creature), also amphibians (like salamanders and newts) can regenerate body parts (not just limbs, which they did get right); but really, who’s going to be afraid of the Newt? Random note: some species of spider can lop off and regenerate their limbs. Some reptiles can partially regenerate a tail once they’ve detached it (called autotomy), though it’s a discolored, cartilage thing that isn’t nearly as useful. Amphibians use (cell to) adult stem cells to start regeneration, which Connors dismissed when Peter brought it up; limb regeneration is being studied and tested (though not on people) and it’s bound to become an actual science. We want to take note that adult stem cell research has led to more useful results than embryonic stem cell research (the main excuse for the abortion industry).
“Human beings are weak. Why be human when we can be so much more?”
Humans are weak, yes, but the next step up the “food chain” is the angel and we aren’t really ready for that. One of the defining characteristics of the Lizard is his sanity leaves something to be desired—now would you really call that as achieving something more?
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