Making the Grades
"SPIDER-MAN, SPIDER-MAN, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man." Whether we read the comics or got up early on weekends to watch TV, the catchy theme song of this popular superhero is permanently engraved in the minds of practically every man, woman, and child. Yet, his arrival on the silver screen could have a few parents singing a different tune. Rated PG-13 in the USA, the 2002 Spider-Man live-action movie may scare your little Miss Muffets away. Fortunately for youngsters hungering for arachnid adventure, most video rental shops carry several older cartoons that may be substituted to satisfy their web-slinging appetites. This Saturday morning fare will obviously vary depending on the episode, but here is a taste of what can generally be expected...
In Spider Slayer, even innocently swinging around the skyscrapers of New York leads to trouble. Spidey's senses tingle, warning him of danger lurking nearby. But the attack of flying, exploding drones is only part of the diabolical plot. Spencer Smythe, an evil engineer, has also created mechanical Spider Slayers to tangle with and capture his nemesis in order to reveal the hero's identity. When the plan tragically backfires, resulting in Smythe's death, his son Alistair decides to avenge his father by unleashing more Slayers.
Kraven The Hunter features a villain with heart. When Spider-Man rescues Dr. Mariah Crawford from a man with beast-like abilities, he is shocked to learn that the brute is actually her boyfriend, Sergei Kraven. Poisoned by a serum that transformed him, Kraven is doomed to a tortured existence until Mariah can find a cure. Sadly, Peter Parker is devastated by the disappearance of his own girlfriend, so his alter-ego Spider-Man is reluctant to help -- until a new feline superhero tries to convince him otherwise.
These comic book stories are loaded with WWF-style crime fighting and plenty of property destruction, although Spider-Man's dry wit, sharp sense of humor, and dating woes help cushion the violence. So, if you are feeling "lookout, here comes the Spider-Man," then considering the animated versions as an alternative may still provide a way for your little ones to feel "action is their reward."
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Spider-Man: Spider Slayer & Kraven The Hunter.
Out of frustration, Spider-Man declares that he has never profited by helping others. What does he mean? Should that be our only motive for lending a hand?
A superhero enforces justice while villains seem motivated by greed or revenge. What other qualities can be catalysts for action? Why are non-violent means of conflict resolution never considered in this genre?