Stephen Johnson

Superhuman struggles

By  Stephen Johnson, Youth Speak News
  • May 29, 2014

This summer, power and responsibility are prominent themes on the silver screen. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker struggles between personal desire and greater responsibilities, while in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America, motivated by professional values, battles the corrupt forces in power.

“With great power, there must also come great responsibility.” These famous on-screen words from Parker’s dying Uncle Ben have been ingrained into the minds of superhero fans. At the end of the preceding Spider-Man film The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter was left with a hard choice: to live dangerously as a superhero or be in a relationship with Gwen Stacy. He promises her dying father he will no longer see her.

In the sequel, Peter selfishly forsakes his promise, but his decision eats away at him. He begins to hallucinate visions of the deceased George Stacy and realizes he is endangering Gwen’s life. Their love leads to tragedy when Gwen acts rashly to help Spider-Man.

The villains of the movie also embody some aspect of sin and lack of responsibility. For example, Electro desperately wants to be loved and respected, but having no friends he ends up using his powers for evil out of envy and resentment. The other villain, the Green Goblin, acts much like Judas, betraying his friends in desperation for his own survival and profit.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a story of power and responsibility that focuses on leadership and free will. Captain America discovers a conspiracy on American soil within his own place of employment, S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistics Division), and he is forced to act for the values for which he stands, even if they may be against the forces in power. His life, too, is at risk — as are the lives of his friends, and the responsibility to maintain peace and liberty lies on his shoulders. He has an opportunity to simply surrender and become as bitter and jaded as the world around him. Like Jesus, however, he refuses to take the easy way out and fights despite the very real possibility of death.

The film’s primary plot is that S.H.I.E.L.D. has developed three battleships capable of eliminating any terror threat in the world with powerful guns and constant surveillance where S.H.I.E.L.D. maintains lies are the basis to ensure total safety. As Jesus was with the hypocrites and false prophets of His time, Captain America does not believe in hiding the truth or acting in secret. When the project is inevitably hijacked, Captain America stands with only Agent Romanoff by his side to face the consequences of too much power in the wrong hands. Much like Jesus and His apostles, the few are left to sacrifice for a world that is very much afraid.

Spider-Man and Captain America may be superhuman, but they have to balance power and responsibility just like ordinary men. They remind me of Jesus and His time on Earth, more than man, but balancing the human struggle with power and responsibility.

(Johnson, 20, is a Concurrent Education student at York University’s Glendon College in Toronto.)

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