I recently attended a Broadway show in New York called Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. The show was terrific. There was never a dull moment. The music, choreography, and acting were simply magnificent. Patrick Page (Green Goblin) was masterful. While I enjoyed the show very much, and realize it is a fictional story played on a stage for entertainment, I was struck (even saddened) by the stark contrast of the fictional story against the truth of the underlying human motives on display throughout the play.
The story is about a high school student in Queens, NY named Peter Parker (Reeve Carney) who is very much a “nerd” and is bullied by a group of other boys at school after giving a book report about the Greco-Roman god Arachne. Peter has a crush on a popular girl at school, Mary Jane Watson. After the bullying incident Mary Jane tells Peter, “You are a good person Peter.” Peter responds as he walks away saying, “Good person; what does that get you?”
Norman Osborne (Patrick Page) is a scientist working for Viper Worldwide, a military organization, and is attempting to speed up the evolutionary process by genetically altering a spider to create a serum that would allow soldiers to see in the dark (i.e. Turn off the Dark). Peter is bitten by one of his genetically altered spiders that had escaped its confinement.
As a result of the bite, Peter becomes super strong, with 20/20 vision (no more glasses), and can shoot spider webs from his wrists. The first use of his new found power is to enter a fighting contest with a $1,000 prize so that he can buy a car, although, he later regrets his actions. Peter vows to use his powers to save the world.
Norman Osborne, meanwhile, believes that Spider-Man has stolen his formula. He decides to experiment on himself and accidentally kills his assistant Emily. He becomes the Green Goblin.
Peter is visited by the Greco-Roman god Arachne in a dream who tells him she is watching over him.
While Peter ultimately chooses to do what’s right and becomes the hero of the play, the problems with the human heart are very evident.
First, Peter feels he deserves something for being good and when he doesn’t get it, he concludes there’s no benefit to goodness. The Bible tells us that no one is good except God. Matthew 5:44 tells us, “do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” We are commanded to do good to bring glory to God and not to ourselves.
Peter has a lust for power and for the approval of men. Peter’s first acts after receiving his super-human powers are selfishly motivated. He beats up the bullies who had been picking on him and then enters a fighting contest to win money. Romans12:1 tells us, “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
Norman Osborne, who also lusts after power, fame, and fortune, believes in molecules to man evolution and works toward that end bringing disastrous results. His motivations are selfish as well, and his true heart is revealed in the character of the Green Goblin as he desires to destroy Manhattan, and then, the world. The Green Goblin looks, acts, and sounds a lot like the Devil himself. Jesus described children of the devil in John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do…”
It’s interesting that Norman Osborne’s evolutionary objective is sight in the dark, i.e. Turn off the Dark. John 3:19 tells us that men loved darkness, rather than light, because their deeds were evil. So, man’s solution to the problem of “groping in darkness” is to reject the Light of Christ and invent a man made way to see in the dark.
Peter worships the Greco-Roman god Arachne and believes he derives his power from her.
How sorrowful our world would be without the love and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. ALL of our human hearts are filled with all kinds of lusts, selfishness, and wickedness. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” But thank God for the new birth in our Savior and Lord Jesus. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
Only He can save us. Only His light can help us see clearly and do what is right.
For more information on the Broadway show Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, go to: http://spidermanonbroadway.marvel.com/