Spider-man: Into the spider-verse, part 2

spider-gang

I put up a post last week with some initial thoughts from the latest Spider-man film. Feel free to catch up, here.

This film set me ablaze with reflection. It was so well-made and thought-provoking. Spider-man has it all, in my opinion. It’s brimming with so much goodness. I fear that I may be overselling the film a bit. If you end up watching it and not enjoying it, I’m sorry. I’m an Enneagram 7… I can be thrilled for about anything that’s new.

The enduring theme of the movie is that “anyone can wear the mask.” And the film illustrates it, but putting several “Spider heroes” from different parallel universes in the same space. But, each of them are not the beloved Peter Parker. But, as the picture above shows, the spider-gene can summon an array of people.

Which is the strength of the writing, in my mind. We are in a pivotal, cultural moment, where old assumptions about who can/cannot, should/should not lead is being reworked. The writers of Spider-man made the most of this moment.

  • Miles- the main protagonist, is a young, person of color
  • Gwen- a young, talented woman more capable that most male figures in the film in the face of the #metoo movement
  • Peni Parker- a young, Asian girl with her robot side-kick (perhaps a gentle reminder that not all tech is evil… but helps broker relationships, too)
  • Spider-Man Noir- a black and white comic book character who is surprisingly helpful, wise, and teachable for an old guy
  • Peter Parker- not one from Miles’ universe, but a neighboring universe, who is working through inner guilt as he helps to save NYC. He finds his own inner peace by helping Miles find his. Quite a lesson to learn.
  • Spider-ham- a bizarre character that I’m still scratching my head about.

It’s not a perfect group of superheroes… but it certainly is lovely to see the variety of identities.

Early in the New Testament, the apostle Paul envisioned a church that looked different than the world around them, where the categories of “Jew/Non-Jew; Male or Female; Slave/Free” did not sort out the crowd into inside and outside.

The church has always tried to be the great expression of humanity where “anyone can wear the mask.” My prayer is that my own ministry helps to further that idea and vision.

 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, part 1

My son Ezra and I recently watched the latest Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse. We both were blown away. I left with my mind on fire about it. So I thought I’d put a few posts together about the film and why a film like this matters.

I’ll try to keep the posts short. And I will try not to give any significant spoilers.

This film has it all, to be honest. It certainly follows the “coming of age” trope that we see in my films. Main character, Miles Morales, is deeply challenged after changing schools, feeling like an outsider.

And he is. His mom is Latino and his father Black in a mostly all-White world. He attends a prep school with heavy textbooks and rigorous academic life while he seems to be most alive when creating art, especially spray-painting murals on NYC walls. Oh yeah, his dad is a NYPD police officer so the graffiti thing may not be a wise choice, long-term.

Early in the film, he spray paints a beautiful cityscape with a hollow figure in the forefront. This seems to be a moment of confession for Miles: he feels empty, like he has no substance or shape.

Spiderman mural

Miles has his spidey senses activated early in the movie and struggles to figure out how to use them effectively. Until he reaches a point when he knows he’s needed. In a stunning scene, Miles free falls from the highest height in the city. If he cannot summon his identity, he will be doomed. But, in the climax of the moment, he’s able to live into his fullest self.

Spiderman

Whereas his mural in the early part of the film is hollow, he is “filled in” at this moment.

As he falls, he actually comes alive.

One of the essential traits that I see in the life of Christian discipleship is a term James Joyce dubbed, “chaosmos.” It is a compound word: chaos (pulling apart) and cosmos (putting together). A pattern that we see in the DNA of any inspiring Christ follower is that it seems that their life is being pulled apart and put back together, at the same time.

It certainly is the case for Miles’ coming of age moment in this film.

How about you? Do you feel both the thrill of progress, development, and growth alongside of setbacks, deconstruction, and pruning?

If so, maybe you are not far from the kingdom.