“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell
I go to the movies for entertainment.
Sometimes, if the producer’s intent is to uplift and inspire, I’m pleasantly surprised and moved.
Spiderman Homecoming has that effect in spades. Fresh new faces, familiar but in deeper hues, tons of great visuals and a story sprinkled with humor. Above all (literally), a sense of freedom, as Peter Parker aka Spiderman “flies,” we sense a young man with an expanded higher calling, one who is capable of reaching great heights and moves, by virtue of a web connection, to people and ideals and yet always coming back to earth.
The antagonist Vulture, played by Michael Keaton, is a salvage operation boss, making a living and providing for his family like the men working for him. Enter The State, which takes control of his operation and his livelihood, and leads him to make desperate changes for survival. Rebelling against State power, Vulture becomes the private sector counterpart, subsumed by greed and ambition.
Peter’s dream is to join the Avengers, and he is mentored by Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr, a softer, gentler and more intuitive Iron Man, who gives Peter enormous latitude to make his own choices and only occasionally intervenes when needed.
And Peter’s choices are what differentiate this from other Super Hero movies. Instead of magnifying good vs evil, or light vs darkness, the film focuses on Peter’s love of family, friends and his compassionate comprehension of what drives Vulture. Peter transcends a dualistic view of life and embraces a totality that is life affirming and saving. Although his aspirations are to join the Avengers, when offered this option, he returns “home” to be the neighborhood Spiderman.
This was my personal takeaway from the film – if we act out of love and compassion, staying true to ideals while connected and part of community, we can all be heroes.
Rebecca Hougher is a Green Mountain Boy descendant and friend of a 2nd Vermont Republic.