The first time my heart kicked in in Spider-Man 3 was when Harry Osborn/New Goblin was rushing to save his friend Peter Parker/Spider-Man. But it was too late to save the movie. Remember Spider-Man 2? It was great. I was engaged throughout. It was easy to care. There was only one main protagonist, Dr Octopus. Spider-Man 3 had, well 3.
All three villains in Spider-man 3 had story lines that deserved development. In the comics, it took many issues to flesh out their life stories. But three major story lines were just too much for one movie to carry. There was just too much, too fast. My heart had no chance to engage. Till the part where Harry Osborn realised that his best friend had not killed his father. And sped off to save him. But by then it was too late.
“Here’s what I was thinking as I left the theater: Raimi, who not only directed but co-wrote the screenplay, must have had half a dozen different story ideas in mind for future ‘Spider-Man’ movies and couldn’t decide which one of them to use for number three, which he figured might be his last. So he used them all.”
(John J. Puccio, DVDTOWN.COM)
I have other complaints about Spidey 3. Some parts were just plain silly — J. Jonah Jameson being buzzed by his secretary; Peter Parker trying to look cool walking down the street; the maitre d’ at the French restaurant — they bordered on slapstick. I never got that in Spider-Man 1 and 2.
And what’s with the giant Sandman? I expected Ultraman to appear at anytime. (The Spider-Man franchise is owned by Sony.) Or maybe police helicopters a’la King Kong. Sandman worked better at human size. And why does Mary Jane Watson have to sing so much? Maybe Spider-Man — the Musical but surely not the movie. And where has the Osborn’s butler been all this time? The bits and pieces of Spider-Man 3 just didn’t sit very well together.
This is really a shame because Spider-Man 3 deals with a very serious topic, one that is rarely covered by celluloid — forgiveness. Again wisdom comes from the mouth of a senior Parker.
Aunt May: “Uncle Ben wouldn’t want us living with revenge in our hearts, it’s like a poison. It can take you over and turn us into something ugly.”
Here is truth but with so much happening it’s hard for the truth to sink home.
Compare this with:
Ben Parker: “You’ve been given a gift Peter, with great power, comes great responsibility.”(Spider-Man 1)
May Parker: “I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble. And finally gets us to die with pride. Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want most, even our dream.”(Spider-Man 2)
You remembered. You cared. But with all that’s happening in Spider-Man 3 did you really hear what Aunt May said about the dangers of not forgiving?
The most spiritual part of the movie had Sandman coming to ask Peter Parker for some sort of understanding for his killing of Peter’s Uncle Ben:
Flint Marko: “I’m not asking for your forgiveness. I just want you to understand.”
Peter Parker: “I forgive you.”
Here too is divine truth. We receive forgiveness from God when we take ownership of our sins and realize that we do not deserve to be forgiven.
“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, `O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”(Luke 18: 13-14 NLT)
And I believe Peter Parker was more ready to forgive because in the black suit he had tasted his dark side and knew that he too was perfectly capable of evil. It’s so hard to forgive those who have wronged you if you come from a position of spiritual superiority. This is not uncommon because it is natural for the “hurtee” to feel morally superior to the “hurter.” And some wounds in life are very deep, equivalent to the murder of Ben Parker or worse. In the face of such assaults our hearts cry out for vengeance and justify hatred.
But May Parker was right. An unforgiving spirit is poison that will kill you. And it is very hard to forgive if you feel morally superior to the one who hurt you. Hence these tough words from Jesus:
“…and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12-15 NLT)
Jesus reminds us that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. We need forgiveness. How then can we withhold it from others?
When Peter Parker and Harry Osborn finally reconcile our hearts are moved.
Peter Parker: “I never should have hurt you. And said those things.”
Harry Osborn: “None of that matters, Peter. You’re my friend.”
Peter Parker: “Best friend.”
Deep down we all long for that connection. With each other. With God. Spider-man 3 tells us that reconciliation is only possible through forgiveness. The bible agrees and tells us that forgiveness can only be found at the Cross.
So embedded in the pyrotechnics of Spider-Man 3 is a critical message, one that humankind needs more than ever. Pity it is lost in a film that could have been so much more. Or less.