A couple weeks ago, after finishing up two research papers for my graduate program in Mythology, I returned home (from mailing them), fixed myself dinner and collapsed in front of a movie. Many of us know that experience. After a hard day’s — or week’s work — we look forward, either at home, or in the theater, to a good comedy or action flick which will remove us from the anxieities of our lives and help ease the woes of the day.
I think that’s why bad movies upset us so. We had expected something which would allow us a moment’s escape — or repose — and instead they remind us of the troubles of the day. It’s why conservatives bristle at leftist messages in movies. We’re looking to be entertained, not indoctrinated.
Well, after I mailed in my papers, I had the chance to see Hollywood at its best, one of those thoroughly entertaining movies which reminds me why I like this medium so much, why I moved to LA. Last month, I popped in the DVD of Sam Raimi‘s “SPIDER-MAN 2” and for two hours was entertained by the exploits and struggles of this very human superhero.
Not only is this movie entertaining and engaging, it also has a nice message, a message which it shares with us not by preaching or pontificating, not by forcing it down our throats, but my weaving it naturally into the story line. In this flick, Toby Maguire‘s Peter Parker decides to give up being a superhero so he can just be a regular guy with time to put into his studies and to spend with the girl of his dreams, the red-headed Mary Jane Watson (ably played by the gifted Kirsten Dunst).
Yet, when Parker abandons his Spider-man identity, crime soars in the city while young kids lose a role model. Perhaps knowing that her nephew is really Spider-man, Aunt May (played to perfection by the amazing Rosemary Harris) reminds him why we love heroes:
Kids like Henry need a hero, courage, self-sacrificing people, setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero. People line up for ’em, cheer ’em, scream their names. And years later, they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them to hold on a second longer. I believe there’s a hero in all of us that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble and finally allows us to die with pride even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams. Spider-man did that for Henry and he wonders where he’s gone. He needs him.
She reminds Peter — and through him, us — that sometimes to do what’s right, we have to give up something we most long for.
Her words do not fall on deaf ears and Peter once again dons his outfit and takes up his calling, preventing the tormented Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) from completing a project which could destroy the city.
When I had first seen the movie in a theater last May, Aunt May’s speech troubled me. And yet when I saw the flick last month, I knew she was right. Sometimes to do what’s right, to answer our calling, we do have to give up our dreams.