In favor of positivity and good mental health, we will be exploring the importance of self-care. Sometimes, we are lost in our thoughts and emotions that it can cause a negative impact on our lifestyle and our relationships. For this month’s topic, the OWLS bloggers will be exploring the mental health of pop culture characters and how their mental health affects their environments. We will explore the dangers of mental health illnesses and how it might lead to self-destruction and/or how one has the power to overcome their demons. In addition, we will share our personal stories and struggles about mental health and discuss positive ways in handling mental health issues.
*Will contain spoilers to the Sam Raimi movies of Spider-Man
Addiction – Escaping the pain of life
What do you do when facing emotional pain? Some people might talk about to someone they trust like friends and family. What if you don’t have anyone to talk to? In the Christian life, Christians can rest assure that they can talk to God and tell Him their problems because God never leaves anyone alone and will always be there. What if you don’t believe in God? When you don’t believe in God, you surely do feel alone. It feels like you are alone facing this dark and scary path of life and not knowing how to defend yourself when tragedy hits or upcoming predicaments occurs. When people feel hurt like this, some wants to easily erase any pain that they endured. When people get hurt, they sometimes quickly turn to stuff that can numb the pain or void in their hearts. Some people might use drugs or alcohol, pornography or even isolation as a way to cope with the troubles of life.
In this post, I will talk about how even superheroes go through similar stuff like us regular people and how are they not so different.
Background: Spider-Man by Sam Raimi – Making Spider-Man BEFORE the MCU trend
Before Avengers, before Disney bought Marvel and before we had the MCU trend, we lived in a simple time where superhero movies popped up in theaters in some occasions. During the that time, we had movies like the original X-Men movies, Hulk (the Ang Lee version and not the 2008 one), Blade and Daredevil (Ben Affleck version). Out of these movies, we had the successful trilogy movie series Spider-Man in which they were directed by Sam Raimi. This guy brought our favorite arachnid hero on the big screen and made Spider-Man a reality. Before we had Tom Holland and Andrew Garfield, the actor who played as both Spider-Man and Peter Parker was done by Toby Macguire and appeared in all three movies. The first movie showed a young Peter Parker who receives spider powers by getting bitten by a radioactive spider in a fieldtrip and learning about responsibilites; this movie also reveals the love of his life Mary Jane (played by Kirsten Dunst) and the first and terrifying millionaire villain Norman Osborn donning the Green Goblin (played by William Dafoe). Second movie introduced us another iconic villain named Dr. Otto Octavius (Dok Ock or Dr. Octopus) and taught Peter Parker that being Spider-Man doesn’t always mean having powers or the suit (this is before we had the quote if you are nothing without the suit, you shouldn’t wear it). The last movie had many villains like the Sandman, Hobgoblin and Eddie Brock/Venom; Peter’s greatest enemy was also himself when he got the black suit symbriote. Overall, Sam Raimi made three amazing movies and unfortunately, the fourth movie was canceled and it was going to have Black Cat and the Vulture. Spider-Man 3 premiered on 2007 and in 2008, Iron Man made it’s debut and started the MCU.
Besides these facts, I am going to be mostly talking about Spider-Man 3 throughout this post. Be prepared for spoilers!
Revenge is like a Poison
Spider-Man 3 tells the story about how Peter Parker is dealing with life knowing that everyone in New York loves Spider-Man. Even though Spider-Man is getting tons of fame, his girlfriend Mary Jane is getting the short end of the stick when her broadway career collapse when she gets replaced and causes her to get frustrated in life. Peter’s friend Harry blames him for killing his father from the first movie, but soon after, he gets amnesia during a scuffle early in the movie. The movie’s main focus is when Spider-Man obtains the symbriote (black suit) costume in which not only gives him more power, but this also increase behavior like being aggressive and cold. The story elevates when the police informs Peter and his Aunt May that the criminal that killed Uncle Ben is still alive and is on the loose. Surprised, they also informed them that the events that led to the death was operated by two criminals.
If you don’t know what I am talking about, in Spider-Man 1, Peter enters a wrestling match to win the grand prize money; however, he gets scammed and get small money. When Peter leaves in disgusts, a criminal shows up and robs the promoter and takes all the money. Seeing the criminal run away, Peter lets the man escape and tells the promoter that it’s not his problem. This act of negligence leads to the untimely death of Uncle Ben in which at that time, was shot by the same criminal at the wrestling match.
Back to Spider-Man 3, the criminal that was killed in the first movie didn’t kill Uncle Ben and he only stole the car. The actual killer was Flint Marko, a criminal who wanted to steal money in order to help his sick daughter. Feeling reminded about his actions and hearing the news, Peter lets out his anger on the cops and blaming them for not informing them sooner and doing nothing about it. When Peter puts on the black suit, things get personal and Spider-Man no longer becomes the friendly neighborhood hero of NY, he becomes some bent on revenge. When Spider-Man confronts Flint Marko (aka Sandman), he is quick to beat him and nearly kill. Knowing he is sand, he washes his body away into the sewer and believing that killing him will make Uncle Ben happy.
The next day, when Peter tells May that Spider-Man killed Marko, she gets shocked and this confuses Peter. May tells him that revenge is never the answer and killing someone based on one’s vendetta is actually scary.
It can take you over, and before you know it
You would think Peter would get the hint that his actions is not very heroic after what he did to the Sandman, but it gets worse for him. When his boss J. Jonah Jameson announces that he can only keep one photographer, he tells Peter and his competitor Eddie Brock Jr. that unless they can find a good picture of Spider-Man, only one person will stay at the Daily Bugle and the other is fired. When Eddie decides to cheat and photoshops a picture of Spider-Man being a threat, this causes Peter (still wearing the suit) to lash out and reveal to everyone that Eddie cheated and causes him to lose his job and reputation. To add insult to injury, Peter steals his girlfriend Gwen Stacy.
You might be wondering, wasn’t Peter going to get married to Mary Jane? Well, remember I said before Harry Osborn got amnesia? He got his memory back and when he hears his father in his head about Peter and Mary Jane, he threatens her to break up with him in order to hurt his heart. When Peter finds out that Harry has manipulated MJ, he once again relies on the suit to use his anger to get back on him. This causes these two friends to fight to the death and Peter almost killed Harry with his own weapons.
it can turn you into something ugly
The last straw in Peter’s revenge on the world is when he takes his new girlfriend Gwen Stacy to a Jazz Nightclub where MJ works at. In order to get back on MJ, Peter outstages MJ by taking the spotlight from her and the band by dancing and embracing Gwen. After the show, Peter tried to talk to Mary Jane, but the staff stops him from talking to him and this causes him to attack them. While feeling annoyed and frustrated, Peter doesn’t pay attention and attacks Mary Jane. After realizing that he hurt someone that he truly loves, he is even shocked to see himself do something terrible.
When Peter, in his Spider-Man suit, secludes himself at a church in a stormy night, he then realizes that the suit has been nothing but trouble and he plans to get rid of it. The alien suit refuses to leave Peter and it is not until when Peter accidentally banged the church bells that he realizes that the suit hates loud noises. Using this knowledge, Peter uses the church bells and destroys the suit that has been influencing his anger. With the suit removed, Peter was free; however, the alien later found a new host and took Eddie’s body since he harbored hatred to Peter and wanted revenge.
Self-Care treatment: Forgiveness
With everything that happened to Peter, he can’t help but feel pain in his heart for hurting Mary Jane. When he told Aunt May what happened to her, he tells her that he failed at being a man. However, Aunt May reassures him and tells him that if she wants to know that he is forgiven, he needs to forgive himself. Taking in what we learned from the above passages, we can see how the movie Spider-Man 3 could represent us and life. Here is the breakdown and I will explain it to you:
- Peter Parker: Us
- Symbriote/Black Suit: “Pain Reliever”
- Symbriote Alien: Sins such as hate and suffering
- Harry, MJ, Flint Marko, Aunt May: friends and family
- church bells: God
We are Peter Parker who is trying to do good for the world and sometimes we get hit with bad news. The black suit can be viewed as something as a pain reliever to escape life; it could be represented as intoxicated items like drugs, sex or some other use of numbing the pain. Just like the real world, people dealing with emotional pain would rather hook themselves to some addiction as oppose to talking about their feelings. They would rather stick needles in their arms to feel happy, drink tons of beer to erase a bad memory or watch pornography in order to feel some short satisfaction. Peter used the suit to channel his anger and hate on others that he feels that did wrong on to him. Peter nearly killed a sympathetic criminal dad, murdered his best friend, hurt his girlfriend and even created an enemy that almost killed him. The suit Peter wore had affected him and hurt all his peers because of it. At first he felt some pleasure because he felt like he was strong and could take on anything life tossed at him. This overconfidence and pleasure of power caused him to forget who he is and turn away from his loved ones. Whether you see this in a religious representation or not, the bell at the church serves something important. In Christianity, the bell was a heavenly blessing and helped Peter repent from his sins. Thanks to God, Peter was able rid of himself that has made corrupt. In another essence, besides a Christian viewpoint, the bell could represent a “reality check” for Peter. This could be something that helps wake up Peter and open his eyes and see that the enemy is himself. Relying on something that is immoral will affect the user and make them do stuff that they would never do. Why do people do these things? I don’t have an answer to this, but I feel like people do it because they want to avoid pain and only feel something good even though it’s not right for the body.
In order to really take care of yourself, you got to be true to yourself and admit that you need comfort. Even though Spider-Man is a superhero, even he needs help. Not even his super powers can help stitch the pain in his heart after losing Uncle Ben and not being to help his love ones. Just like Aunt May said to him, it’s important to learn to forgive yourself. Regardless what anyone does and how they affected others, in order to feel forgiven, people needs to learn to forgive themselves. Hurting themselves and and still asking for forgiveness from others will heal the emotional pain a minimum. Forgiving yourself is another way of saying remember what you did and move on, it’s in the past. You can’t change your past, but you can certainly change your future.
Thank you for reading my OWLS post! The next person to do their next post is Matt Doyle Media Dot Com. See you next time! God bless you all!