Spiderman and Stan Lee
The recent Spiderman movies are great
sources for discussing character with your children or students. If you haven't
seen them, see them. As blockbusters that many students will purchase and watch
repeatedly, this story achieves the status of a popular folklore that we can
refer to over and over.
How to use: When you're either teaching on
a certain trait or a trait comes up naturally in your curriculum or counseling,
consider referring to the movie. This should help students connect the character
trait to the story, promote discussion, and help them make the transfer to real
life. Here are some topics addressed by Spiderman #1, #2 and #3, and suggestions for using
Insights and Discussions
- The Impact of Character, Hatred,
Forgiveness: How did Peter Parker's failure in character lead to the
death of his beloved uncle? (He refused to stop the robber who
eventually killed his uncle. Since he was angry at the person who was
robbed, it didn't bother him that the criminal got away.) In Spiderman III,
who all had problems with forgiveness and how did they handle it? (Parker
struggled with forgiving his uncle's killer. Harry Osborne couldn't forgive
Spiderman for supposedly killing his father. Eddie Brock couldn't forgive
Peter Parker for ruining his career. Share examples of
how hatred and lack of forgiveness hurt ourselves and others in real life.
- Overcoming Failure:
How did Peter
learn from his moral failure and allow it to motivate him to do right? (He
was motivated to stop, not only this criminal, but all others, because they
were hurting people.) In what other areas was Peter failing? (His
relationships, his work, his school. Being Spiderman kept him overworked and
unable to fulfill his obligations.) How can we learn from our failures?
(Share personal examples to connect this with real life.)
- The Priority of Establishing a Life's
Purpose: Why was Peter so hesitant to tell Mary Jane that he loved
her? (He had a purpose in life so great that it was more important than
a romantic relationship. He knew that by carrying on a romantic
relationship, criminals might harm her to get at him.) Do you think that
a person who has yet to adopt a life purpose has any business seeking a
mate? Why or why not? How can adopting a life purpose help in choosing a
mate? (Example: If you want to help people, don't commit to a
selfish/materialistic mate who expects you to work all the time to fund
his/her expensive tastes. Once you know who you are, you can understand more
clearly the type of person you would be happiest marrying.) Tell examples
you know of where a dating couple or married couple experiences conflict
because of their conflicting outlooks on life. For example, Bill Gates
didn't marry till later in life. Had he prioritized dating early in his
career, it's doubtful that he could have put the energy into Microsoft that
it needed in those early years.
- Problem Solving, Honesty: How did
Peter and Mary Jane finally resolve the problem of how to harmonize his life
purpose with their mutual love? (He had been lying to her about not
loving her. He had to be honest with her and she with him. Then she could
choose whether or not she wanted to live as his girlfriend and expose
herself to the risks involved.)
- Sacrifice: Following the right path is
often fraught with difficulty. What did Peter Parker have to sacrifice in
order to live as Spiderman? (He cut himself off from personal relationships.
Life more difficult because of the interruptions to his schooling, work,
relationships.) What are some of the things we would have to sacrifice to
live the kind of life we feel we should live? (Give examples from your own
- When Ethics Collide: Peter Parker
promised Mary Jane that he would attend her play. But when a criminal needed
to be stopped, he broke his promise in order to save people's lives. He
either had to break the promise, which he knew was wrong, or let the
criminal go, which he knew was wrong. Do you think Peter made the right
decision? How could Peter have kept from getting caught between two
commitments? (Don't make as many absolute commitments to be certain places
at certain times, since we know things might come up. Don't promise to do
things you might not be able to fulfill). How do we make decisions when
ethics collide? (Example: In most situations, a promise to be somewhere
is understood to be only valid if no emergency comes up. We must prioritize
Creator of Spiderman Shows Diligence
Stan Lee is the most recognized name in the history of
comics, a modern myth-maker who created such colorful heroes as Spider-Man, the
X-Men, the Hulk and Silver Surfer. At the age of 20 he became the editor and
chief writer of what would become Marvel Comics. But it wasn't always an easy
When the comic book industry came dangerously close to
folding in the late 50's, it is said that artist and collaborator Jack Kirby
returned to work with Lee and found him ''sobbing while movers took the
furniture out of their offices.'' When their competitors (DC Comics) scored a
big hit with their ''Justice League of America'' superheroes, headed by
Superman, Lee's boss demanded new characters in response.
The characters he and Kirby invented
''revitalized the industry and revolutionized the form,'' allowing Marvel to
dominate the industry. His writing is compelling. In his stories, the characters
develop and you see them, not just as super-heroes, but as real people with real
problems. We identify with his characters as they struggle with the same
issues in life that we do. Just think of Peter Parker, the high school science
nerd who became Spiderman. As a student, he loved a girl who didn't love him. He
was rejected by his classmates. He faced difficult moral choices. As Lee put it,
''Everybody has problems, and everybody has secret sorrows.'' Lee invented
superheroes everyone could identify with.
He became a cultural icon in the 60's and early 70's,
lecturing in colleges where students might ask if ''Silver Surfer'' was modeled
on Jesus Christ. Novelist Ken Kesey said that Marvel Comics had as much to say
about life as any of today's literature.
But his great success didn't come without hard work. One
artist who worked under Kirby said that Lee ''wrote one book a night for 10
years.'' Now in his latter 70's he's still unstoppable, as Spiderman and the
X-Men have both come to the big screen. Today he's pursuing the Internet,
attempting to tell stories in an original multimedia style. According to Lee,
''I have always personally felt that all of us, every living being, gets one
shot at life.'' Let's make a splash while we're here. (Written by Steve Miller,
Copyright Dec. 20, 2002. Source: Salon.com , August 17, 1999)
1) How many of you have seen the movies Spiderman
or The X-Men or have read some of Stan Lee's comics?
2) What do you think made his comics so successful?
3) What if he'd gotten so discouraged that he'd given up when things went bad?
4) Could he have been successful without a strong work ethic?
5) What can we learn from Stan Lee?
6) What can we do this week to hang in there during the hard times and exhibit a
strong work ethic?