Making the Grades
It seems Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) finally has the world on a (ahem) string. His alter ego -- Spiderman -- is more popular in New York City than ever before, he's vying for a staff position at the newspaper, and his romance with MJ (Kirsten Dunst) is rapidly developing to the point where Peter is feeling it's time to pop the big question. But popularity can be both good and bad, and perhaps the webbed wonder is getting just a little too confident, especially after rescuing the beautiful police chief's daughter and sharing a celebratory kiss.
Of course there are also the usual enemies waiting in the wings. Harry Osborn, the son of The Goblin (whom Spiderman confronted in the last movie) is convinced the red suited one is responsible for his father's death. But an accident changes Harry into Mr. Nice Guy after his short-term memory is lost. Suddenly, he is happy to be Peter's friend, and his personable persona even begins attracting MJ, who is feeling left out of her busy boyfriend's life.
Even bigger problems develop when Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), a man suspected of killing Peter's uncle, is turned into The Sandman -- a being who is made up of tiny particles -- after becoming an accidental guinea pig in a physics experiment. Then there's the black thing that falls from outer space. The strange goo latches onto Peter and brings out the dark side of his personality, causing him to react viciously and hurt others. When his anger leads him to accidentally strike MJ, he knows he must rid himself of the curse -- but in doing so he unleashes the darkness on a competing photographer at work, turning him into the evil Venom.
It's a large roster of issues to deal with, explaining why this film runs well over two hours. The trio of enemies also provides a great deal of opportunities for conflict, making this Spidey outing feel more violent. Physical altercations seem nearly continuous with people thrown through glass, into walls, and their faces rammed up against passing subway cars. Invincible characters, like The Sandman, are particularly abused and shot at dozens of times. Audiences will also witness two stabbings (with blood shown), murder by gunshot (although the bullet impact is not seen), and countless other scenes of peril and destruction.
Yet within all this mayhem, there are some positive reasons for teens and adults to consider this film. Perhaps the greatest is Peter's recognition of how his anger and desire for revenge are poisoning his life. The only way to regain control is by forgiving, and this moment offers a shining example seldom seen on Hollywood screens. Other messages evolve that teach about always having the opportunity to make good choices, no matter what the circumstances.
Certainly these powerful examples could have been achieved with less violent content. However, the meaningful script showing the intensity of the anger Peter holds in these relationships does give us plenty of time to understand how difficult it would be for him to move past his grudges. While parents of young children may want to approach this altered arachnid with caution, teens and adults may find plenty to admire within this superhero.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Spider-Man 3.
The character of Peter Parker is explored in depth in this film. His usual good-natured personality turns dark and vengeful after he is subjected to a black substance that falls from space. In reality, what might bring out our darker side? What are ways we can deal with our anger before it leads us to do things we will regret?
How does forgiving others allow Peter to progress in his life? Who benefited from his willingness to forgive?
The script makes a point about our ability to always make good choices, no matter what the circumstances are. How can we train ourselves to react positively in difficult and stressful situations?