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.