In my journeys to exotic lands I have suffered the bite of some terrifying insects. I endured the scourge of a scorpion in the desert of Peru, a black wasp’s stinger drilled into my arm in Africa and a caba wasp stung my head twice in the Amazon jungle. Only my bites never granted me any super powers.
Like many guys I’ve always looked forward to any movie starring Spider Man. If I am honest though, I would never want to be him. For me, navigating relationships at home, school and work are hard enough without the troubles of fighting criminals and villains on the side. Besides, I don’t like getting beat up. I want comfort, safety and security. I would rather eat popcorn and drink my soda in my cushy chair while watching my superhero fight evil villains on the big screen.
I am not a good fit to become Spider Man. I border on obsessive compulsive when it comes to showing up to places on time. I am a horrible liar and couldn’t make up a story to cover my identity to save my life. Although Spider Man is an icon with a half century of fans, there would be few among us who would have the courage to do what he does if given the power.
So why are we so captivated by Spider Man? I think it is because we can relate to his weaknesses. Like Peter Parker, we know what it is like to be socially awkward, misunderstood, bullied and nervous around the girl we like. We want things to work out for him, because we want things to work out for us.
Spider Man appeals to our craving for rescue. We admire the courage of Peter Parker, a teenager willing to risk life and limb to rescue others and bring justice on those who threaten them. We marvel how he sacrificially puts his life on the line. And he does all this even while his personal life is so messed up. We find ourselves rooting for him as he battles each villain because we want someone who will rescue us.
We also know what its like to get in way over our heads. This is life. We feel the need for someone like Spider Man in our life. Why does this desire for help beyond our human power exist? If we are honest with ourselves, perhaps it is because we are more than aware of our weaknesses as human beings. It may be a bully that threatens us or a thief that breaks and steals our stuff. It may be the stress of our everyday lives that causes us to wish someone would just lift us out of our predicament. We often feel our enemies are too powerful for us to subdue. The injustice is too strong for us to overcome and defeat. Perhaps this craving gives us indication we are in a far more desperate situation for our redemption than we realized. Our desire for super hero intervention is a window into our craving for someone who can fight off our enemies. We really want heros to be real.
How would your life be different with Spider Man as a friend? From what predicaments do you need saving?
All of our definitions of hero borrow their template from the greatest hero of all time. Stay tuned to explore this hero.