When my oldest child was 4, he begged to have his face painted as Spiderman. But when he saw his new face in the mirror, he began to cry and wanted to scrub the paint off. The image was so startling and different that he scared himself. What he saw was no longer who he understood himself to be.
In some ways, that is the story of Spiderman: a kid with newfound powers, a little scared and a little excited, trying to figure life out. He spends his movies fighting bad guys, all the while searching to understand what he believes, what he stands for, and how he should act in the world.
Personal identity and responsible action are spiritual themes every child explores. Use the new spidey movie, Spiderman: No Way Home, as a springboard for conversation about these themes.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” Explore the meaning of Spiderman’s mantra. Ask:
- What did Aunt May mean when she said, “With great power comes great responsibility”?
- What did Spiderman think she meant?
- What actions did he take because of this statement?
- What quote or statement might guide your actions? (If needed, prompt children to think about mantras held by other favorite characters, stories from religious texts, or common sayings.)
Once children have picked a statement, encourage them to write it on a sheet of paper. They can then decorate and post their sayings to help them remember their mantra.
Team Spiderman. From his family and friends to the Avengers, Spiderman has a network of people who look out for him. When he needs help protecting his friends from his negative publicity, he turns to Dr. Strange, who offers to assist with a spell. Invite children to draw a picture of the people on their support team. As they are drawing, discuss how it feels to know they have a team who support them. Wonder about the things they are able to do differently or better because of others’ support.
Hugs. I love Spiderman’s vulnerability. He is always giving hugs and telling people that he loves them. At one point in the movie, all the versions of Spiderman come together for a group hug. With their permission, hug a child and say “I love you” and then invite them to hug you back and say “I love you.” Ask:
- What did it feel like to hug?
- What did it feel like to hear me say, “I love you”?
- What did it feel like to tell me, “I love you”?
- Why do we hug people and tell people that we love them?
Helping. At the end of the movie, we see Spiderman doing what he does best, listening to a police scanner and swinging around the city to help those in need. Wonder together about why Spiderman wants to help people. Then invite children to identify reasons they might want to help others. Brainstorm some things they could do to be helpful, such as shoveling snow for an elderly neighbor, reporting a school bully to a teacher, or collecting canned goods for those who are food-insecure.