Study Guide

Spider-Man Sacrifice

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PETER: Who am I? You sure you wanna know? The story of my life is not for the faint of heart. If somebody said it was a happy, little tale, if somebody told you I was just your average, ordinary guy, not a care in the world, somebody lied…but let me assure you, this—like any story worth telling—is all about a girl. That girl. The girl next door. Mary Jane Watson. The woman I loved since before I even liked girls.

For Peter Parker, like most superheroes, love is sacrifice. He's been head over heels for M.J. since they were 6 years old. Even before he started dressing like a patriotic spider and fighting crime, Pete was willing to sacrifice his own happiness for Mary Jane's. That's love, y'all.

UNCLE BEN: May, I'm 68 years old. I'm too old for computers, and, besides, I have a family to provide for.

AUNT MAY: I love you, and Peter loves you. You're the most responsible man I've ever known. We've been down and out before, but somehow, we survive.

For most parents, love equals sacrifice, too. We mean, we're pretty sure Uncle Ben and Aunt May haven't survived all this time by being selfish jerks. It's like Uncle Ben tells Peter, "With great power comes great responsibility." And with great responsibility comes sacrifice. Ask your mom.

MARY JANE: Has he mentioned me?

PETER: Yeah.

MARY JANE: What'd he say?

PETER: I said…he asked me what I thought about you.

MARY JANE: And what did you say?

PETER: I said, uh, "Spider-Man," I said, uh, "The great thing about M.J. is when you look in her eyes, and she's looking back in yours, everything feels not quite normal because you feel stronger and weaker at the same time. You feel excited and, at the same time, terrified. The truth is, you don't know what you feel, except you know what kind of man you want to be. It's as if you've reached the unreachable, and you weren't ready for it."

This is the closest Peter gets to telling Mary Jane how he really, really feels about her. He's crazy about M.J., but he constantly locks that away—sometimes for Harry's sake, sometimes for M.J.'s sake. He does what's best for his friends' happiness and security, not necessarily his own.

NORMAN: I haven't always been there for you, have I?

HARRY: You're busy. You're an important man. I understand.

NORMAN: That's no excuse. I'm proud of you, and I've lost sight of that somewhere, but I gotta make it up to you, Harry. I'm going to rectify certain inequities.

Remember how we said earlier that parents make sacrifices because they love their kids? Yeah, well, ol' Norm here hasn't been the most loving parent. He constantly puts Oscorp before Harry. Harry can catch a ride to school in his dad's Rolls-Royce, for instance, but he's probably never gone out in the yard and played catch with his dad.

AUNT MAY: You do too much. College, a job, all this time with me. You're not Superman, you know.

Oh, Aunt May. If only you knew.

GREEN GOBLIN: You've spun your last web, Spider-Man. Had you not been so selfish, your little girlfriend's death would've been quick and painless, but now that you've really pissed me off, I'm gonna finish her nice and slow. M.J. and I, we're gonna have a hell of a time.

The Green Goblin is calling Spider-Man selfish here because Spider-Man turned down his offer to team up and, well, we're not sure what they'd have done together. Cause chaos and destruction, most likely. Norman feels like he sacrificed everything for the good of Oscorp, so when the board forces him out, the Green Goblin is born of his bitterness, loneliness, and desperation for revenge.

NORMAN: Peter. Don't tell Harry.

Question: is Norman being a good dad or a bad dad here? On the one hand, he's sparing Harry from knowing just how terrible dear, old dad was. On the other hand, he's essentially lying to Harry, and, whether it's intentional or not, he's setting Spider-Man up to take the fall for him, as we see when Harry vows revenge on Spider-Man to, of all people, Peter.

PETER (voice-over): No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, the ones I love will always be the ones who pay.

And that's the sacrifice his friends and family make by loving him. They don't know they're making it, but Peter does, and, boy, does it weigh on him—hence the dramatic, film-ending voice-over.

MARY JANE: There's only one man who's always been there for me, who makes me feel like I'm more than I ever thought I could be, that I'm just…me. And that's okay. The truth is, I love you. Oh, I love you so much, Peter.

They kiss.

PETER (voice-over): All I wanted was to tell her how much I love her.

If this exchange made you want to throw your shoe at your screen, we feel you. Imagine how Peter feels, though. If he wants to keep M.J. as safe as he possibly can, that means keeping her in the dark about Spider-Man and keeping his distance romantically. Le sigh.

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