Over the Christmas holiday, I saw the new Spider Man movie “No Way Home.” The movie stars Tom Holland. I’m not the biggest fan of the super hero genre but I absolutely loved this new movie. I thought it was the best superhero movie I’ve seen since the Dark Knight.
Part of what I loved so much about the movie were its rich gospel themes.
Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers
If you haven’t seen the movie, I will talk at length about the plot. I never want to spoil a film for anyone, so if you care about seeing the new movie, I’d stop reading here until you’ve viewed the movie.
Reviled by the world
At the end of the most recent Spider Man movie “Far from home,” Spider Man’s true identity of Peter Parker has been revealed and he’s been framed for murder. At the beginning of No Way Home, there is intense media scrutiny and a public outcry. The only people who are loyal to Spider Man are his girlfriend, best friend, his aunt, and Harold “Happy” Hogan. These people are the loyal disciples of Spider Man.
Peter Parker is less concerned about himself but feels terrible that the lives of those closest to him have been turned upside down. He asks Dr. Strange to cast a spell which will erase his identity from everyone’s memories. At first this sounds great to Peter Parker/Spider Man, but it will also erase the knowledge from his loved ones. Parker keeps asking Dr. Strange to alter the spell. In the process, alternate universes are opened up and the villains of previous Spider Man movies are released into the present day.
A fallen world
Spider Man quickly contains all of the villains and Dr. Strange creates a way to send all of them back to their original universes. This will result in all of the villains dying.
Spider Man rejects this idea. He wants the bad guys to get a second chance. He believes that if they could take away their powers, they could reprogram them and they wouldn’t be evil. What’s interesting is that none of the bad guys have the desire to change.
It makes no sense.
These people are evil. Watching the movie, you’re thinking “just send them back. These guys are the bad guys.”
But that’s the gospel. It’s not just that we make a couple of mistakes here and there. We are sinful and live in rebellion against a holy God.
Given new life
The bad guys don’t want to change. It actually comes from Spider Man’s work in taking away their power and reprogramming them. That too is a theological point where sinful men do not decide they want to become holy. Even that must come as a gracious act of God.
The first person whom Spider Man works on is Doc Ock. At first, you wonder “has he really changed?” But before you can see if he has or not, the Green Goblin (who has pretend to be interested in changing for the good) betrays Spider Man. Spider Man’s friends have been holding onto Dr. Strange’s ring and are able to open up portals into alternate universes. They summon two different Spider Man’s from other universes (and former Spider Man stars Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield).
The Super Trinity
While the Holy Trinity is mysterious and nothing in our world can adequately compare, it is interesting that you suddenly have three Spider Man’s who are all distinct from each other and who are all Spider Man. In the movie, they jokingly address themselves as Spider Man “1, 2, and 3.” Spider Man’s 1, 2, and 3 are all Spider Man but 1 is not 2, 2 is not 3, and 3 is not 1.
With any superhero character, you have this Christian theme of two natures. Spider Man is fully man and fully superhero.
The Triune Spider Men join forces to work redemption for the villains.
In the Spider Man movie, once he has worked in the villain, there is a supernatural transformation that takes place. They are totally changed. Those who are evil and hateful become humbled and good. Spider Man has a way to cure them of their evil and it’s a cure that can only come from Spider Man.
Doc Ock was the first person whom Spider Man had cured. Later in the movie, you see him work to help save Spider Man when he’s in a perilous situation. The transformation that’s happened in him is genuine.
The three Spider Men are ultimately successful in transforming all of the villains. But before the Green Goblin had been restored, he had opened up the multiverse which would bring in any more villains. There is only one option. Spider Man must “die.” He doesn’t actually die in the movie, but his memory must be erased from everyone, even from those who know and love him. And in that sense, he must sacrifice himself and die to the world in order to save the world.
I know it’s just a movie. But it has powerful gospel themes. Because the world is fallen and sinful. And Jesus bring salvation and a new heart and a new life to all who believe in him and who are redeemed by Christ. And the only way for Jesus to redeem the world was for him to die. Not a symbolic or metaphorical death but to literally die. He lived the life we could not live and died the dead that we deserved so that all who believe in him can have eternal life.
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