A couple of days before July 4th, Spiderman: Far From Home hit theaters riding the wave of the long weekend, hoping to snatch up all those movie goers with a bit of extra time on their hands. I’ve been excited to return to the MCU’s webslinger and his friendly neighborhood antics not only in the wake of his stand along movie Homecoming but also amongst the aftermath of Infinity War and Endgame. The fish out of water story, set amongst the countries of Europe, coupled with a fish-in-over-its-head angle make for a great hook. As one reviewer put it “…Far From Home is the epilogue to Endgame I didn’t know I needed.” I was sold.
Did the movie live up to my hype? It’s worth seeing if you’ve been following most of the Marvel movies thus far but if you want to wait to stream/rent it you’ll be fine… is what I would have said after the movie ‘ended’ but the mid-credit scene changed everything. The movie takes on a whole new weight, meaning, and emotional investment that elevates the whole experience. It becomes one of those moments that all stories strive to accomplish but is often overlooked when comics and genre fiction achieve them. It holds up a mirror to our world and allows us to see beyond our own life. It teaches us empathy. Spider-Man: Far From Home is not better than Homecoming when it comes to the entertainment it offers, because it instead is offering something else. Instead of a spectacle it offers a seed. Less fun but more lasting.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we get to the kernel of truth Spider-Man is offering, here are few of the small things I enjoyed about the movie.
• The chemistry between the characters: Peter interacting with his friends, Peter being awkward about his romantic feelings, Peter being a part of Nick Fury’s new team. All the small character moments are great.
• I enjoyed the design of the fire monster. I like how it looked, how it felt when Spidey and Mysterio fought it. I like its powers, and how they interact with the world.
• The humor is back and it’s on par with Homecoming.
• I like the stakes. Even though this movie has raised the stakes and elevated Spider-Man to a true Avenger class hero, he still feels like a boots-on-the-ground neighborhood hero trying to be a teenager while keeping his friends safe.
There is a lot to like in this film, even if at times it drags just a bit. But onto the ending and its implications!
SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS
The mid-credit scene picks up right where the movie ‘ends’ revealing not only that Mysterio has used his hologram technology to trick the world into believing that Spider-Man killed him, that Spider-Man is some kind of villain, but also revealing Spider-Man’s true identity. And this news is brought to the public by none other than J.K. Simmons reprising his role as J. Jonah Jameson. What a reveal! The stakes for Spider-Man, personally, have never been higher. Gone is the editor of a printed newspaper, J. Jonah Jameson is now the host of the news talk show The Daily Bugle, that looks and sounds almost exactly like Info Wars and Alex Jones. The changes to the character are quite clever, though not subtle, and the implications are not lost on the view. Nor should they be for the Christian view especially.
It seems difficult to find out what is True in this day and age. This is not something particular to this current time, this current generation. The difference is not one of culture but technology. People have always lied. Politicians lie, news casters lie, celebrities lie, business people lie, your family lies, your friends lie, but now it’s much easier for people to hear the lies. This is why discerning what is truth and what is a lie becomes paramount to not only living a better, more informed life but also a Good life. A life that honors God. Though most of us cannot relate to keeping our anonymity, to wearing a mask, in order to do the most good for the most people, we can relate to being portrayed as something we are not. Or at least living under some level of fear of that happening, especially within the socially connect digital sphere of modern life. These are the two big themes of Spider-Man’s ending address: what is true and what should I do when my integrity is attacked.
The first is easy enough. As Christians our faith comes from God and the truth of that faith, its foundation, is found in the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). We know this because we have read the Bible and we believe it to be true. We as Christians have a filter to which all information can pass through. Those things that flow through the Biblical filter align with the Truth while those things that are caught reveal themselves to be false. The Bible teaches us to know these things and in turn allows us to then teach others (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And by teaching we become a part of the expansion of the truth ultimately covering the earth and fulfilling the Great Commission. While ultimately the public will eventually realize that Spider-Man is not some kind of villain, because he is a superhero and these are comic book movies, Christians can have the same assurance that what is true and what is false will be revealed when we hold them up to standard that God have given us.
The second theme is not always so easy live with. For those who have not yet been bitten by radioactive spiders the strain of this kind of attack is quite heavy. Many are the attacks from outside of the faith against those that choose to follow both the letter and the spirit of Gods word, Jesus himself said as much in Matthew chapter 5, and even calls his follower blessed because of it. Blessed by the very words of our enemies for being what we already claim to be. But what if the attack came from within the Church, from fellow Christians? What if those we trusted turned out to be the ones misleading us? That is the type of betrayal that Spider-Man is dealing with and many believes deal with as well.
As Proverbs 11:3 states “he who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.” Whether you know the person or not, every time some pastor or leader within the church is caught in a sexual sin or accused of stealing money it always seems personal. Always seems like an attack on our faith, on the Church, and it is just that. It drives people away. People who were already a part of the Church, and people looking at those situations and seeing ‘that’ as the church.
If one superhero is a killer aren’t they all? Who can we trust?
How can that pastor have done this when they claim to believe the Bible? Is this what all Christians are like?
The Bible is a shield to the barbs of the enemy, not a wall to cover the sins of humanity, yet we cannot simply hide behind that shield. Our part is simple enough when confronted with untruth, when attacked in our faith: we must remain peaceful with everyone, in all we are able to do (Romans 12:18), innocent yet shrewd (Matthew 10:16), always doing good and ultimately relying on God’s Justice which goes beyond anything we can provide. (Romans 12:19-20). The world is a dark place, full of lies and danger, and yet we can take courage because Christ walks with us, for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). We are not the heroes, God is.
I look forward to seeing what happens next to Spider-Man; his heroic deeds and his exoneration. I hope you all are excited as well. Not only about the next movie but also in how this piece of art and entertainment is able to change us, if only in some small way. To be better Believers and better people to others. To be a part of the truth and a part of the source of true hope.