Discernment @ the Movies: Spider-Man 2

By Brian Gilmore (http://my-superhero.com/) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

By Brian Gilmore (http://my-superhero.com/) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

Do you enjoy superhero films? Do you have a favorite superhero?

Although I was no comic-book reader when I was growing up, I have come to enjoy the best of the superhero movies that have been produced in the past two decades. Superhero films can offer a lot to reflect on, but my favorites explore the themes of love and self-sacrifice in the life of the hero.

By far my favorite superhero is Superman. However, I’m still waiting for a truly great Superman movie. (Someday I’ll post reviews of all the onscreen live-action Superman movies!) In the meantime, Spider-Man 2 became one of my very favorite superhero movies. While there are many reasons for my choice, one reason is that Spider-Man 2 (2004, starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, directed by Sam Raimi) offers a great cinematic example of discernment. Practically the entire second act of the film is Peter Parker’s discernment: Shall I continue to be Spider-Man, or shall I give it up? It’s a question of identity, of mission, of deep desire, of the search for happiness and peace of mind and heart…all essential to making a good discernment.

Although a direct reference to God is lacking, Peter Parker takes many of the actions one needs to take to make a good discernment:

* Takes time to reflect on the circumstances of one’s own life

* Listens to the desires of one’s heart

* Listens to the needs of the world and one’s own specific circumstances

* Tests out a preliminary decision

* Reflects on what gives true peace of heart

* Seeks wise advice (mentor or spiritual director)

Watching Spider-Man 2 may be an unusual but helpful way to reflect on how to make a good discernment; especially if we’re in the midst of a discernment involving our vocation or a major life-decision, Peter Parker’s struggle to discern might really resonate with us.

You may find it helpful to download this short Discernment @ the Movies Guide: Spider-Man 2 and use it when you watch the film. Afterwards, take some time to reflect on the questions on the guide. You might even want to watch the film with a friend who is also exploring discernment, and discuss the questions together over coffee or tea afterwards.

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5 thoughts on “Discernment @ the Movies: Spider-Man 2

  1. I think it’s not so much the big things, but the small things, that require discernment…the sorting out what is from God and what isn’t….and, of course, that’s exactly what discernment is. I am an artist and for a while now a certain picture had been in my mind and I’ve decided to try painting it. I say “try” because it does illustrate evil as well as good. My struggle is….Should I allow that evil, that negativity, to come through me onto the canvas? Should I give it that much recognition?
    My argument with myself is that the darkness will be balanced with the light and good will shine as better than evil. But….. Though we all know evil exists…we’re reminded of it every day….des it deserve recognition?

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    • To Connie:
      I think there’s a writer in me sometimes, cause i do enjoy writing and adding my slice to the pie at different times. I myself find what I write about and how it comes out interesting. I think most of the reason it so happens like that, is because whom ever or what ever i may be listening to or watching somehow has been able to pass through the gates of a well guarded place deep down below no person should even know exist. When that happens, my heart starts to pump, my breathing changes more rapid. It’s like something inside has been woken up. So much I can add but that’s enough for now. Any way 2 years ago as I was writing,, it took a turn,, it actually surprised me,, it turned into a mystery thriller with a touch of demonic. It scared me and I was going through something at the time and all I really wanted was to find God and learn and pray and just beg for mercy and forgiveness. Because the enemy is real I wanted no part of it, I quickly erased it. The story is obviously in my memory, but nothing on computer or paper.

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      • Angie, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. It as just by chance I found your comments on my computer tonight. You say that all you really wanted was to find God yet you erased what you discovered deep inside yourself. That is where we find God, Angie…first and foremost, deep inside ourselves. Put the story on paper, Angie, and you will recognize which is of God and which is not.

        I often find the things I write about other people and other situations are really messages meant for myself. God communicates in many ways but it is always positive and always with love. Do what love calls you to do and be happy!.

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    • Connie,
      Thanks for your thoughts and comments! I’ve been down with a really bad flu, so I’m sorry I haven’t been responsive here.

      Your question is excellent. I believe that to portray the power and beauty of goodness, it often must be contrasted with the darkness of evil. (Schindler’s List is one of my favorite films–it’s a great work of art. But it wouldn’t be as powerful if we didn’t experience the horror of the Holocaust. The contrast between Oskar Schindler and the head of the concentration camp is where a lot of the emotional power of the film comes from, I believe.) The true ethical questions for us as artists is found in HOW we portray evil. Portraying evil realistically can help people to recognize evil in their own lives. But portraying evil as attractive, or to be so immersed in evil’s portrayal that the power of truth and beauty and good are not visible compelling–either for artist or audience–that is where the problems come in.

      In our society which is so often blind to sin and the terrible tragedy of evil, sometimes a profound portrayal of evil in contrast with good is exactly what can help “wake us up.”

      What do you think?

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      • Sister Marie, I don’t know why but I just found this response to my question tonight. I agree with you about Schlinder’s List. It’s one of my favorites as well. It might interest you to know that though I solicited opinions from others (yourself included) I knew the painting would have to be finished and so it is. As for being a “planner” or a “panster”, it didn’t turn out quite as I had envisioned it and I find that interesting. I’ve not yet posted it on my site but I would like to send it to you if you’d tell me how.

        There are two more in the “planning” stages…one of which is almost finished. They all seem to be related and I’m wondering if there are to be more.

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