Besides being a stellar movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse teaches us about something many of us struggle with - Identity.
Honestly, my entire life I have been resistant to the Spiderman craze that most of my friends had growing up. So one day I was scrolling through Netflix and as my mouse hovered over a movie I heard Post Malone and to my surprise it was Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Long story short, I finished this movie and simply became obsessed with every aspect of it. Maybe it was because I’m a sucker for animation movies, maybe because I love Post Malone, but I truly think it was due to the intricate themes displayed throughout the movie.
Quick warning - I will be discussing one climactic moment, it is not necessarily a spoiler, but I do recommend watching the movie before reading this!
The general plot of this movie is that the main character, Miles, has just been bitten by a radioactive spider, turning him into Spiderman. As this happens, Kingpin has also created a machine that would allow for multidimensional travel. During his first trial multiple dimensions get intertwined. Essentially, multiple variations of Spiderman are brought to Miles dimension. The main one we will focus on is Peter B. Parker. He’s a little chunky, out of shape, and pretty much going through a midlife crisis when his and Mile’s paths first cross. Peter B. Parker takes Miles under his wing and teaches him how to be Spiderman from a technical standpoint of how to cast his web, control his powers, etc. Miles on the other hand challenges Peter to get back on his feet again after his divorce from his love, MJ. That’s as in depth as I’ll go on the summary, so go watch it for more detail!
An Identity Crisis
Now there is one main theme that affects both characters dramatically. The theme is that both characters struggle with their identity. Who they are, who they are meant to be, and do they have enough. These questions that they battle are often questions that we battle ourselves. Without giving too much away there is a bit of dialogue that can help us, like them, find the remedy to these echoing questions.
In the following scene we have all the Spidey people preparing for a battle, but Miles still hasn’t mastered his new powers. As a result, the group forces him to stay behind. Miles, tired of letting everyone down - his parents, friends, the Peter B. Parker, etc, finally gives in as he asks:
Miles Morales: When will I know I’m ready?
Peter B. Parker: You won’t. It’s a leap of faith. That’s all it is, Miles. A leap of faith.
Many of us worry ourselves with similar questions: When will I be ready to finally be the person God made me to be? Or, How do I know I am the man/woman God made me to be? Unfortunately, the answer to our question is the same answer that Miles receives. We won’t.
The next scene I want to focus on is as Peter B. Parker is about to return to his original dimension. In fear of messing up or doing something wrong he becomes resistant to leaving. Miles beautifully returns the lesson that was passed on to him.
Miles Morales:You gotta go home man.
Peter B. Parker: (suddenly sad and scared) How do I know I’m not gonna mess it up again?
Miles Morales: You won’t.
Peter B. Parker: (realizing) Right. It’s a leap of faith.
If you’re a perfectionist like me, you have asked yourself this same question hundreds of times. Am I really doing God’s will? How do I know what direction to go? And if you’re even more like me you will discern these questions over long periods of time. The greatest thing that has brought me peace is again this simple answer: we’ll never know 100% whether or not we have made the right decision or gone in the right direction.
The point I am trying to make is this: we will never have certainty that we are doing everything God desires us to, and in fact we never can achieve such perfection in the first place. What it takes is a leap of faith. We must leap into the arms of the Father and trust that he will not lead us astray. It is okay to be unsure, it is okay to question, but we must have an increase in faith and trust. In the movie, neither of our characters could become the person they were destined to be until they first jump away from their fears and personal desires, and fully trust in their powers. Much like them, we will find the answer to these questions that bewilder us when we finally put full trust in faith in God.
A prayer I have found useful that would be worth spending time with if you struggle with this constant questioning of yourself is the Merton Prayer:
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.