Christian Living


Spider-Man: Movie Review

Star Rating

Movie Info




May 3, 2002


Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris, and J.K. Simmons


Sam Raimi


Laura Ziskin and Ian Bryce


Avi Arad and Stan Lee


David Koepp


Stan Lee and Steve Ditko


Columbia Pictures/Sony


Action-Adventure/Science Fiction


Older children, teenagers and adults


CBN is not endorsing the films or TV shows CBN.com reviews. Our goal is to provide information about the latest in entertainment, both the good and the bad, so you may make an informed decision as to what is appropriate for you and your families.

The movie Spider-Man is not only well-constructed, exciting and entertaining, but it is also chock full of faith, much to our surprise.

Three times during the story, people say very clearly, "Thank God for you, Peter." Peter Parkers aunt, with whom he lives, says the Lords Prayer just as the villain attacks, so her prayer to "deliver us from evil" seems to be answered by Gods Grace alone! Cliff Robertson, who shows up at a lot of real-life Christian events in Hollywood, says, "Let there be light," as he screws in a light bulb, to which his wife May replies, "God will be thrilled." In another scene, May asks the Green Goblins alter-ego, Norman Osborn, to say grace. There are many other God bless yous. Furthermore, Spider-man Peter Parkers uncle tells him as he dies the theme of the movie, "With great power comes great responsibility," to which Peter much later adds, "This is my gift and this is my curse."

Since we know some of the people behind this production, were not surprised by this very Christian God talk in one of their movies. It is surprising, however, to find this God-talk in a movie about a comic book character who in his comic book persona often seemed like a teenager with a wisecracking attitude.

Spider-Man opens with Peter Parkers narration telling the audience that this is a movie about a girl. The girl is Peter Parkers neighbor, Mary Jane or MJ, played by Kirsten Dunst. MJ, however, is the most popular girl on campus and dating the really big man on campus. Also, the very wealthy Harry Osborn, son of multi-millionaire inventor Norman Osborn, has his eyes on her. Compounding Peters romantic problems is that hes a four-eyed wimp that everybody likes to make fun of whenever they see him. Even the bus driver wont stop for him, and, when he gets on, his classmates trip him. The only thing that doesnt happen to Peter is that nobody kicks sand in his face.

One day, on a trip to one of the most advanced research labs in the world, where theyre breeding super spiders, one spider bites Peter. He goes home to his aunt and uncle's house and falls to sleep on the floor in a cold sweat. The next morning when he wakes up, theres something different about Peter: he doesnt need his glasses; hes strong; and, when the bully at school tries to beat him up, he not only avoids all the punches with lightning reflexes, but he lands one punch that sends the bully all the way down the school hall. Suddenly, MJ notices Peter.

As Peter develops his spider-man skills, Norman Osborn is having trouble with his defense contract. The army general doesnt like Norman, and Norman's top scientist says that the miracle drug they have designed for the army, which is supposed to turn soldiers into supermen, is actually producing psychotic, schizophrenic killers. Norman panics. He doesnt want to lose the contract, so he does what any comic book inventor would do, he takes the drug himself and turns into a psychotic, schizophrenic killer. This, however, is a Jeckyl and Hyde situation, because the real Norman doesnt want to turn into the Green Goblin. Interestingly enough, the movie almost portrays this transformation as demonic possession, especially in the scene where Aunt May says the Lords Prayer while shes being attacked by the Green Goblin.

Back to Peter, who wants to raise some money to buy a car to impress MJ. He signs up to participate in a cage wrestling match. If he can last three minutes, he gets $3,000. When he beats the big gorilla in a short amount of time, he only gets $100. After all, he didnt last three minutes.

As he leaves the ring to find his uncle, his uncle has been shot by a carjacker. Thus, Peter realizes that he has to right this wrong and protect other innocent victims. Wearing his wrestling Spider-man outfit, he goes off to exact vigilante justice.

Eventually, the Green Goblin decides that the town is not big enough for the two of them. Therefore, Green Goblin decides to destroy Spider-man and everything that he loves, which he discovers when he realizes who Spider-man really is.

Spider-Man is very high octane, with lots of action and lots of adventure. So much so that the premise (remember, Peter told us that this story is about a girl) gets lost in the middle of the movie. Thus, some reviewers say they love the first half, but not the second.

Actually, the plot picks up rather quickly, and, better than that, there are many moral and spiritual messages, a few of which were mentioned at the beginning of this review. One that was not mentioned was when the Green Goblin gives Peter a choice of letting the Goblin kill a bunch of school kids or kill his love interest, MJ. Although set in a comic book world on top of the 59th Street Bridge of the comic book version of New York City, the Green Goblin dilemma in the movie clearly represents a Solomon-like case requiring biblical wisdom to choose the good. Eventually, even the conflicted Norman/Green Goblin wishes Peter "God Speed." Furthermore, at the end, Peter has become a humble hero who understands the responsibility of great power.

Kirsten Dunst is good in this movie as MJ, though she doesnt have as much range as she did in The Cats Meow. Tobey Maguire makes Spiderman come alive and deserves commendation. Cliff Robertson is heartwarming as Peters Uncle Ben. Willem Dafoe has some wonderful conflicted moments in this movie, though his portrayal sometimes slips into mannerisms rather than the fine acting he is known for in his other movies. In a movie with so much God talk, its too bad that there are some profanities and obscenities, usually out of the mouth of Willem Dafoes conflicted character. The romance is very chaste throughout, although Kirsten Dunst seems to be trying to restrain her normally seductive persona.

The real problem with the movie is, of course, the action violence, which includes the frightening villain. Some of the beatings are pretty intense, and the Green Goblin makes the audience believe that he really does want to kill his victims.

Even so, it is extremely rare that an action fantasy like this has so much faithful, moral content. With great power comes great responsibility, and the filmmakers and Sony Studio are to be commended exercising some of this responsibility in the production of the terrific, entertaining Spider-Man.

NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine: For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide Magazine by visiting www.movieguide.org

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