(Photo by Samantha De La O)
Spider-Man Sets an Example of Sacrificial Love
Spider Man’s story starts with a humble few words: “This is the story of a girl––that girl.” The hero himself doesn’t appear a few seconds later. Although the Spider-Man trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man series mainly focus on Spider-Man’s heroic actions, Peter Parker’s love interests play important roles and influence his personal development. The way he treats Mary Jane (MJ) Watson and Gwen Stacy in the films provides a powerful example of faithful and respectful love similar to what the Bible discusses.
In the original Spider-Man trilogy, Peter puts his life on the line for MJ. He pulls her back onto a balcony, rescues her from the clutches of an octopus man, and untangles her from a massive web. In The Amazing Spider-Man series, Peter saves Gwen from the Lizard, Green Goblin and Electro. It doesn’t matter what kind of danger surrounds Gwen––Peter instinctively puts her life first.
Paul writes in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Although Peter is not married and it’s not clear if he follows Christ, he still exemplifies this devotion in his relationship with Mary Jane. Peter truly loves her as himself, protects her from harm and cares for her best interests.
Spider-Man originally doesn’t pursue MJ because his friend Harry dated her, but he doesn’t disregard his feelings for her. A respectful man does the same for his love interest. Even though he may love a woman, he does not let this love jeopardize his relationship with other people in his life, tell a woman that another guy does not deserve her, or say negative things about other people. Instead, he will let his love make her own decisions and choose who she wants to date. At the end of the first Spider-Man, Peter considers MJ’s safety first and tells her that he doesn’t love her. Even if it means giving up the girl of his dreams, Peter would rather stay friends with MJ instead of losing her completely.
Peter realizes that MJ is a precious woman and that he is fortunate to have her in his life. The Bible discusses the value of a good wife in Proverbs 31, which describes the characteristics of a noble wife. Verse two reads, “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” MJ satisfies Peter and he does not look for love from another person, even though she broke up with him twice and dated three other guys, including his best friend, Harry.
Like any man, Peter is imperfect. However, he always makes it up to MJ in the Spider-Man trilogy when he messes up because he knew she deserves the best. Although he generally arrives late for her performances or their dates together, Peter apologizes for his tardiness and always follows through. MJ becomes upset when Peter misses her show and she questions his commitment to their relationship due to the other time he arrived late for a date. However, Peter tries to rectify their relationship and pursues her, even though she became engaged to John Jameson.
Proverbs 31:10 says, “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”
Since he understands her value, Peter pursues MJ throughout the trilogy. He tries to win her back after she becomes engaged to John Jameson, even though MJ tells him that it’s too late and that he had several chances to prove his commitment to their relationship. Peter realizes his mistakes and makes things up to her so he can prove himself worthy of her forgiveness.
Furthermore, Peter considers MJ’s feelings and often gives her advice. After MJ loses her role in the play, Peter tells MJ that he can relate to her feelings of worthlessness because many people misunderstood Spider-Man’s heroic intentions. Although Peter misses the point and tries a bit too hard to comfort MJ instead of listening to her, he at least tries to cheer her up. He also tries to help her understand that people value her and that she’s a naturally talented actress.
Peter also promises that he would leave Gwen alone in The Amazing Spider-Man, but he realizes later that he loves her too much to ignore his feelings. Peter tries to stop Gwen from leaving for England in the second film and writes her a message in a web as her cab crosses the bridge–– “I love you.” He takes risks and tries to save her from the Lizard, Electro and the Green Goblin. After Gwen falls to her death in a battle against the Green Goblin, Peter cries over her lifeless body and shakes with sobs. He also frequently visits her grave and rewatches her high school graduation speech after she dies.
Peter Parker is only a fictional character and is not married to either girl in the various films. However, his respect for women speaks volumes and his commitment to MJ and Gwen is remarkable. Men can learn from his example, treasure the woman they love, and devote himself to her like Christ did for the church.