In Marvel’s latest web-slinging hit SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey, Jr.) has been merciless, and the Vulture (played by Michael Keaton) has come home to roost. Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland) starts acting like Tony, but Tony can’t let him do that, so he disciplines the young superhero. Join us as we talk about these Christian themes and so much more on this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction and Previous Episode Recap 
  • 00:05:37 – Movie Discussion
  • 00:27:58 – Listener Feedback
  • 00:37:13 – Christian Themes in SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
  • 01:04:23 – More Christian Themes in SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

Key Texts for Spider-Man: Homecoming

Let these passages be your guide as you watch SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING with your friendly, neighborhood friends and family.

Proverbs 21:13 NASB

He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor
Will also cry himself and not be answered.

James 2:8 NASB

If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

James 2:13 NASB

For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

Proverbs 3:11-12 NLT

My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
For the Lord corrects those he loves,
just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

Hebrews 12:7 NLT

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?

This image from SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING shows Tom Holland as Peter Parker.

Tony Stark and the Need for Mercy

The thematic motif of “coming home” dominates the script. From a meta perspective, Spider-Man: Homecoming marks the first Spider-Man film produced by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, thus “coming home” from Sony’s previously exclusive hold on the rights. Sure, our web-slinger had his cameo in Captain America: Civil Warbut this is his first solo film.

In the world of the play, however, the “homecoming” motif resounds even more. Without saying too much now, I can safely say that this story leads to Peter Parker’s genuine acceptance onto the Avengers team. Where he only served as a one-time accomplice in Civil War, Peter proves himself to be indispensable to the team – even if he doesn’t fully take on those responsibilities in this particular installment.

Another incidence of this motif, however, is the basis for the film’s conflict and primary antagonist. Adrian Toomes chooses to become the Vulture when Tony Stark puts him and his coworkers out of a job. Tony shows no mercy, so Adrian responds accordingly. Without Tony Stark being a merciless creature, there would be no Spider-Man: Homecoming.

This image from SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING shows Michael Keaton as the Vulture.

This sequence of events is nominally linked to playwright Arthur Miller’s definition of drama: when the chicks come home to roost. To expound the metaphor, imagine a mother hen sending her chicks out into the world only for them to come back to make their mother’s nest their home. Basically, it’s the idea of consequences of the past meeting situations in the future. It’s when things left unchecked become too glaring to ignore anymore.

Tony Stark made the mistake of being merciless to Adrian Toomes and his crew. Adrian, therefore, became the Vulture in order to circumvent Tony’s influence. The Vulture, then, comes home to roost when Adrian’s weapon business opens up shop in New York.

This motif highlights the importance of mercy by showing the repercussions of its absence. It’s a lesson the Tony Stark has to learn the hard way over the course of several films, but the fruits are clear and serve as a warning to us. And that warning should steer us in the right direction to make the better choice: choose mercy every time.

Peter Parker and the Love of Discipline

The dramatic chicks come home to roost for Peter Parker, too, and they make up the crisis for each act. Peter’s reckless behavior gets him into situations that he can’t get out of himself, and someone has to rescue him. Eventually, Peter finds the strength and power within himself, but that recognition doesn’t come until after Peter has been disciplined.

In the first act, Peter crashes through neighborhoods and endangers himself and other while in pursuit of the Shocker. He stumbles through a treehouse, he demolishes a chimney, he disrupts a camp-out, and he douses party-goers in pool water, to name a few mishaps. The stakes really aren’t that high in these unfortunate events, but they are high enough to warrant a stern lecture from Tony Stark.

In the second act, however, peoples’ lives are at stake, and Peter has to be held accountable. The Vulture and his team laid dormant on the Staten Island Ferry until Peter rustled their feathers (heh). Because Peter couldn’t take them all down, the ferry gets sliced in half, putting every passenger’s life in Peter’s sticky hands. Once again, Tony is able to bail Peter out, but this time, Tony has to love Peter enough to discipline him, and he does so by taking away Peter’s suit.

This image from SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING shows Peter Parker and Tony Stark.

Thankfully, in the third act, Peter finally learns the lesson that Tony was trying to teach: be better. As Peter is crushed by the falling building, he sees his reflection in a puddle. Wishing he had the advanced spider suit to help him, he chooses to (have) confidence in his own gifts and ultimately throws off the rubble.

Don’t misread me: the notion that Peter could save himself when he believed in himself is *not* the Christian theme to glean here. The point, instead, is that Peter wouldn’t have even come to this recognition had it not been for Tony’s discipline. It’s the same for God whenever he disciplines His children whom He loves, and it should be the same us whenever we are disciplining our children and even making disciples of Christ.

Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes – including links to articles discussed – by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a good way to use stories to soften peoples' hearts. Find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever.
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