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LIGHTS, CAMERA, CRUCIBLES 5: Spider-Man #126

Warwick Fairfax

August 3, 2022

With great power comes great responsibility. That’s what Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben tells him in the film we look at on this week’s episode of our summer series, LIGHTS, CAMERA, CRUCIBLES: What Our Favorite Movie Heroes Can Teach Us About Living a Life of Significance. That counsel and wisdom from Uncle Ben – and Aunt May – has been a key component of three different big-screen iterations of Spider-Man over the last 20 years. It’s a key Crucible Leadership lesson, too, one that Peter Parker learns enroute to fulfilling his calling as Spider-Man: the best life is one lived on purpose in service to others – not ourselves. That’s what responsibility and the character that undergirds it look like … and it doesn’t come easily to Spider-Man, or any of us.

Highlights

  • Spider-Man’s cinematic history (2:55)
  • Warwick’s renewed appreciation for Spider-Man and its lessons for overcoming failures and setbacks (5:14)
  • Peter Parker’s constant barrage of crucibles from his classmates (6:05)
  • How Uncle Ben and Aunt May give Peter a blueprint for rising above (11:51)
  • Peter’s support of Mary Jane (15:29)
  • Peter’s powers manifest themselves — and how he uses sight of his values (18:15)
  • Lessons of forgiveness from Warwick’s Dad (25:58)
  • Peter’s selfishness causes a life-altering crucible (28:34)
  • The tragic death of Uncle Ben — and its impact on Peter (32:12)
  • Aunt May’s words of encouragement (37:37)
  • The beginning of Peter’s life of significance as Spider-Man (40:31)
  • Significance is not something we find in public opinion (46:27)
  • The toughest crucibles hurt us in our hearts  (49:12)
  • New Yorkers defend Spider-Man against the Green Goblin (56:13)
  • Spider-Man’s character even as his nemesis dies (1:01:08)
  • Peter’s sacrifice for significance (1:03:31)
  • The most recent Spider-Man’s mentor: Tony Stark/Iron Man (1:08:27)
  • A question for reflection (1:12:52)

Transcript

Warwick Fairfax:

Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

 

Ben Parker:

Peter, these are the years when a man changes into the man he’s going to become the rest of his life. Just be careful who you change into.

 

Ben Parker:

This guy, Flash Thompson, he probably deserved what happened, but just because you can beat him up, doesn’t give you the right to. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

With great power comes great responsibility. That’s what Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben tells him in the film we look at on this week’s episode of our summer series LIGHTS, CAMERA, CRUCIBLES: What Our Favorite Movie Heroes Can Teach Us About Living a Life of Significance.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, co-host of the show. That counsel and wisdom from Uncle Ben and Aunt May has been a key component of three different big screen iterations of Spider-Man over the last 20 years. It’s a key Crucible Leadership lesson Warwick and I discuss as we unpack the original Spider-Man, staring Tobey Maguire, from 2002. Peter Parker learns, en route to becoming Spider-Man, that the best life is one lived on purpose, in service to others, not ourselves. That’s what responsibility and the character that undergirds it look like, and it doesn’t come easily or cheaply.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

If you’re aware of Spider-Man, listener, you’re aware that there’ve been several iterations of the character through the years. In just the last 20 years, there have been three different iterations of Spider-Man. That’s because, just to give you some background, he’s the most popular character in the Marvel Universe, Marvel Comic Book Universe, in the history of Marvel Comics, but he’s not owned by Marvel Studios, the people who put out Captain America and The Avengers and Thor and Ironman. His film rights were sold to Columbia Pictures before they formed Marvel Studios. So the Spider-Man movies, the first five Spider-Man movies featuring two iterations, were made by Columbia Pictures in conjunction with Marvel Studios, but Marvel didn’t own the rights to the character. So one of the reasons why the character has to keep being rebooted is as an origin story, he’s a high school kid, actors get older. So they start with one actor then they have to reboot the series to get a younger actor in place who doesn’t look quite so different from the beginning.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So just to, again, a brief history of where we’re at with Spider-Man, the first series ran as a trilogy from 2002, that was 20 years ago, to 2007. The actor Tobey Maguire starred as the hero in that one.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Then from 2012 to 2014, they rebooted it just five years after Tobey Maguire was done in 2007, the actor Andrew Garfield assumed the role in two films, in a pair of movies.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The character was rebooted one more time in 2016, that’s just two years after Andrew Garfield’s last movie, but there were two major differences about that reboot. Marvel had entered a partnership with Columbia to use Spider-Man in their cinematic universe, which by that time, by 2016, was just an enormous blot out the sun success with their Marvel Cinematic Universe films. So Marvel got a chance to work with Columbia to make that Spider-Man in 2016, which allowed them to bring in all the other Marvel characters.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The second thing is that that reboot in 2016 did not feature Spider-Man’s backstory. He just sort of showed up, already Spider-Man, he was still young, but he showed up already Spider-Man and dove into the action. And his first appearance in a Marvel Studios film was in Captain America: Civil War. And he’s played there by actor Tom Holland. He’s also played by Tom Holland in a couple of Avengers movies, Infinity War and Endgame, and he also has had three of his own films. So he’s appeared six times in Marvel Cinematic Universe, this new version of Spider-Man.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

All of that to say, important character, big history of the character, a lot of stuff to unpack, but where we’re going to spend our time today is in that first movie, 20 years ago, in 2002. And that’s Spider-Man, the original Spider-Man, starring Tobey Maguire. Because, I think, and we’ve discussed this, it’s the most robust origin story and contains the greatest concentration of takeaways for us to guide us through our crucibles and onto the path to stay on the path of leading a life of significance. And Warwick, you and I talked about this before we started recording. And you indicated that it’s been a while since you’ve seen this 2002 movie and were quite impressed with it, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, it really has. I saw the 2002 and Spider-Man 2 and 3 afterwards. And like you, I’ve always loved superheroes, but not only is this a great action movie, but as we’ll see and unfold in this discussion, there are some tremendous lessons about overcoming failure, adversity, negative self talk, encouragement from others. There are some great Crucible Leadership lessons about coming back from very tough circumstances. So it really is, the 2002 version of Spider-Man, it’s a great film to discuss in the context of crucible leadership.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah. A lot of that comes from the origin story, the seeds are planted. What I love about that is there’s crucible lessons in the origin story, and then crucible lessons in his journey as Spider-Man on his way to a life of significance.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So the very first scene that we get in Spider-Man 2002 is a glimpse of some of Peter Parker who’s the alter ego, the high school student who becomes Spider-Man, some of his teenage crucibles. In the very first scene we meet him, he’s running after his school bus, right? He’s missed his school bus. Apparently it happens a lot because all the students on the bus are making fun of him. Like, “Oh, not again, Parker.” The bus driver’s having a little fun of his expense by not slowing down. And as everybody kind of mocks him from inside, he finally gets on the bus, but they continue to mock him.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

He gets on the bus. He’s not allowed to sit next to certain people. They’re like, “No, don’t sit here.” Even kids who don’t look like the “popular.” kids don’t want anything to do with Peter Parker. They call him lame. One of whom is the boyfriend of the proverbial girl next door who Peter admits in a voiceover he’s been in love with since age six. Her boyfriend trips him and he falls flat on his face in the bus. A really painful, hard scene to watch because just kids can be cruel to each other, but sets this up well as this is a young man, this is a kid, a teenager, who knows his way around crucibles, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, absolutely, Gary. This is a character that a lot of people, frankly, a lot of us can identify with. There aren’t that many people in which high school was their glory years. You were the captain of the football team, the debate team, straight A student. Very few of us were kind of all-star, Mr./Ms. Popular, that kind of thing. Usually it’s somewhat less than that. And so here he is, this poor guy, not particularly strong or agile or athletic.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

He wears big thick glasses. He wears big thick glasses.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Right, exactly. Sort of lame, nerdy, everybody makes fun of him. He doesn’t even seem like he has a couple of fellow nerds to hang out with.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It just seems like he’s in a category of one.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So it’s a pretty dismal, despondent life at that point, which a lot of folks can identify with. Very few people say, “High school was the best years of my life.” It’s usually, “I survived high school,” for most of us.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. And he’s also very good at science, which is a front of the line pass to being loved in high school, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Exactly.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Exactly right.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

As opposed to being a football star, Mary Jane’s boyfriend’s a football star. So the taunting of Peter Parker continues in this wonderful first few scenes when the bus arrives at its destination, finally. And the destination is a field trip to a science lab where spiders are being studied. And they’re being genetically enhanced, we hear, from the woman who’s speaking to the kids who are here on the field trip.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Peter’s a photographer for the student newspaper. He is trying to take pictures and the taunting continues. People keep bumping him. These bullies keep bumping him while he’s trying to take pictures to ruin his photographs. And of all the heroes that we’ve discussed so far, and all the ones that we will discuss, I think it’s pretty safe to say that no other hero that we’re going to talk about has a life as beset by crucibles as Peter Parker does. He has a lot of them, they’re varied and they’re kind of constant, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. It’s certainly up there. Life is not easy. Here he is, he’s trying to take photographs for the school paper of these fascinating spiders, and he keeps getting bumped. In fact, I don’t think one photo that he took worked out. He ends up taking some photos that do, as we’ll see, of Mary Jane, but yeah, life is pretty tough. He doesn’t seem actually despondent or depressed. It’s just, “Hey, this is my lot in life and oh well,” but yeah, life isn’t looking too good at this point for poor, young Peter Parker.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Something then changes big time while he’s taking pictures of Mary Jane. That is one of the radioactive spiders that they’ve messed with its DNA to implant in it the traits of six or seven different spiders bites him on the hand while he’s taking a picture of Mary Jane Watson who’s the girl next door that he’s in love with. And it will turn out to be a shining moment, of what we stay on the show all the time, right? It didn’t happen to you, it happened for you. What ends up happening for Peter is that he’s given the strength, the ability to shoot strong webs from his wrists. He has a spider sense that warns him of danger. These are all things that he will learn throughout the course of the movie to apply to what will become a life of significance, but it doesn’t start off that way at first.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Another one of the crucibles that Peter endured before even we meet him, we find out, is the death of his parents when he was six years old. We don’t know how they died. He just mentions that his parents had passed away. And he’s been raised since then by his Uncle Ben and his Aunt May. Sidebar, Marvel comics did a great job in naming those characters all those years ago. Who sounds nicer and sweeter than Uncle Ben and Aunt May? It’s perfect.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And our first glimpse that Peter has a pathway to move beyond his crucibles is shown through the love and character of those two people, of Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Ben’s been laid off from his job as an electrician. He’s trying to find another job. He’s not depressed, but he’s kind of resigned to the fact that it’s going to be tough, but May, his wife, Peter’s aunt, says to him, “You’re the most responsible man I know.” She says she knows he will find a job and they will, once again, overcome their crucibles. “Somehow,” she tells them, “We survive.” And that, I think, is a key Crucible Leadership truth. You need to be surrounded by supporters who believe in you, who know your character and your worth to encourage you when the setbacks and failures come. May does that for Ben and they both do that for Peter. That was one of the first really big a-ha Crucible Leadership moments in watching this movie again that hit me.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, it’s a great point, Gary. When you think about poor young Peter Parker, you lose your parents at age six, it would be normal for most kids to grow up very angry, maybe they would act out and violent or drugs, alcohol, substance abuse. That’s possible and maybe even likely. So why didn’t Peter Parker go down that road? He may not have been Mr. Popular, but he wasn’t suicidal. He was just, “Yeah, life is not easy, but oh well.” Well, that’s quite a victory to have an oh well attitude given losing parents at such a young age.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And I think the reason that he starts off with some character advantages is having just a wonderful aunt and uncle in Aunt May and Uncle Ben. They were able, throughout their lives and in the movie, to teach him character lessons and sort of imbue a sense of character and right and wrong into him. It’ll be tested, he’ll have some challenges, maybe a few setbacks, but you can not underestimate enough having people that support and believe in you, at any age, certainly a young age, it really sets him up very well. But life without Uncle Ben and Aunt May likely would’ve been radically different. And Peter Parker would’ve been almost inevitably a very different, probably angry, bitter young man, you would think, without those two. So those two people, in some sense, sort of saved him and set him on the path to success in the true meaning of that word.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah. And you mentioned young people, I fell in love with Spider-Man as a young people, as a kid and reading the comic books. It was sort of a breath catching moment for me when in this newest iteration with Tom Holland as Spider-Man, in this movie, Aunt May is in her 70s, in the current version of Spider-Man, Aunt May is Marisa Tomei, who’s younger than I am. So when I saw that, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this character was who was always this matronly elderly woman in the comic books is now this woman who was a young actress and who’s younger than me.” That was a crucible moment for me, as a Spider-Man fan, when that happened. But I digress, I digress.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Peter reveals the character that Aunt May and Uncle Ben have baked into him when he has a conversation with Mary Jane, the girl next door who he’s in love with secretly. After her father berates her and insults her, as he does quite a bit, she’s unsure about her future and her popularity. She’s a popular girl at school, but that’s all kind of emotional artifice, it’s a facade, but Peter tells her that she should indeed pursue her dream of acting. He says this, “You’re going to light up Broadway.” He’s the only one be who believes in her. And I think this is another truth we can take away. We all need, don’t we, Peter Parkers to help us turn our visions into reality. And that’s what he does for Mary Jane, for sure.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. It’s such a good point, Gary. As we look at a young Peter Parker in this movie, yes, he has physical superpowers, but he has the emergence of some character superpowers. He has the sense of character, of right and wrong and justice. And throughout the movie, has tremendous empathy, a tremendous ability to encourage. I can’t think of too many superheroes with his level of empathy or ability to encourage on a consistent basis and to see the best in people.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Almost sort of like a foresight. He affirms her acting ability. He says, “Sometimes you know people and you know where they’re headed.” This is all in their backyards. Their houses sort of are next to each other. And as you say, he says she’s going to light up Broadway. Now, Mary Jane has the boyfriend of the high school quarterback, star football player.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. He’s the big jock who probably isn’t good at science.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. She’s attractive so why does he go out with her? Because she’s an attractive high school girl. I don’t think it’s because of her wonderful character. And so that’s what a lot of guys in school see. But yeah, she is an attractive young girl, but Peter sees a lot more than that. He sees who she is as a person. She feels seen in the best sense of that word. Her character, her goals, just that sense of affirmation.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. Her ability.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Her ability. That sense of affirmation. I don’t think she’s ever had a guy say that to her. So she looks at him almost in this quizzical… And Peter was so shy that he couldn’t say boo to her. He could never even open his mouth. So it’s a tremendous scene, as somebody that’s very shy, but just really thinking of somebody else in these wonderful, affirming, empathetic words. It’s a great scene.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Well, and I’m glad that you brought up her boyfriend Flash Thompson. I’m going to say it, I don’t think we’ve ever said this on Beyond the Crucible, but he’s a jerk. Flash Thompson’s a bit of a jerk. He’s the guy who tripped Peter on the bus. And Peter ends up getting into a fight with him at school, as his powers begin to manifest themselves in the cafeteria. His web fluid shoots out of his wrist. It ends up knocking a lunch tray into Flash Thompson and he gets food all over himself. And then he wants to fight Peter because Peter’s a weak kid and he’s going to be able to beat him up.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Well, Peter’s changed a bit since he’s been bitten by that spider. He gets into a fight with Flash at school. He wins easily, demonstrating some of those powers that he now has, strength, his spider sense of something bad’s going to happen, agility. And even at that time, some people cheer for him, some of the kids who are watching the fight cheer for him, the underdog kids who maybe have been picked on by Flash too, but Flash’s pals and all the popular kids, they kind of think Peter’s even weirder than they thought before.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And it’s in that moment, in winning that fight, what happens after he wins that fight is where Peter begins to, you hinted at it earlier, begins to kind of wobble a little bit in his character. He begins to wobble a little bit in that goodness that Aunt May and Uncle Ben have tried to place into him. He’s jealous of Flash Thompson’s car when Flash comes up to meet Mary Jane outside of her house, which is right next to Peter’s house. And he sees this really great car he just got as a gift. So Peter thinks, “If I get a car, maybe I could get Mary Jane.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

It’s unspoken, but we next see him looking through the paper at ads for cars that are for sale, used cars. And he keeps looking at, “That’s too expensive. That’s too expensive. That’s too expensive.” And he finally lands at one that’s under $3,000. He thinks, “Okay, that might work for me,” but he has no money so he can’t buy it. But next to those ads is this big ad that says $3,000 for amateur wrestlers. And he thinks, “Hmm, I just got in a fight with the most popular captain of the football team at school and beat him pretty easily.” He’s pretty certain his powers are going to help him in pursuit of this $3,000 so he decides he’s going to go ahead and do it.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

He makes himself this kind of amateur suit, which is kind of funny looking. He tells Uncle Ben he’s going to the library to study and he catches a ride with Uncle Ben. And it’s in that ride to what he’s actually being dropped off, so he can go to the wrestling match, that Uncle Ben has a heart to heart with Peter. And unpack that, that was in the clip at the start of the show, where Uncle Ben is talking to Peter about some things that concerned him, but that’s a moving, meaningful clip, not just in the context of this film, but in the context of our lives, all of us, as we look to avoid crucibles, overcome crucibles and lead a life of significance. So talk a little bit about why that scene with Uncle Ben and what Uncle Ben says to Peter is so powerful.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So this is a pivotal moment in the film. One of the things we say often on this series about superheroes and sports heroes in Beyond the Crucible is when you’re given great powers, yes, there’s great responsibility, but there’s temptations. It can either, in Star Wars language, make you go to the dark side or the forces of light. And so it’s tempting, initially, as you say, Peter wobbles a bit. He kind of enjoys going from nerdy to being strong, athletic, agile. He enjoys being able to pound his nemesis, the bully, Flash Thompson, the captain of the football team. He kind of gets a kick out of it.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Who knew, by the way, that spiders have 20/20 vision, because he gets to take his glasses off too. His eyes become perfect.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Exactly. There you go, some benefits. So yeah, it’s stunning. So here he is trying to earn some money to get a Flash car to impress the girl. And it just seems like he’s beginning to lose sight of the tremendous opportunity that he has. And initially he’s getting a little self centered. And so Uncle Ben just gives him the talk of his life, this incredible wisdom in which he says, “These are the years, high school years, as a young person, that determine who you will be for the rest of your life.” He then says, in the quote we saw in the clip, he says, “Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.” He says, “Just because you can beat somebody up, doesn’t mean that you have a right to,” as in Peter beating up the bully in high school.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So basically this sense that the gifts and talents, we can either use it for our own wealth, power, to be superior to others, or we can use it to serve our fellow human beings, men and women that we come in contact with. We can either lead a life of significance, a life on purpose, dedicated to serving others, or we can lead a narcissistic life, focused on our own aggrandizement and wealth and power.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And we’ll see his superhero nemesis chooses the opposite path, but this is a pivotal moment for Peter Parker, which path is he going to choose?

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. And what’s really interesting about that scene that you just talked about and that we played the clip for at the beginning of the show is that Uncle Ben has no idea that any of this stuff is going on underneath the surface. Uncle Ben has no idea Peter’s been bitten by a spider and now has the powers, the proportionate powers of a spider. He has no idea of that. He has no idea that he’s not going to study, that he’s going to run off to this wrestling match to try to make $3,000 to use his powers for his own gain. He has none of that context, Uncle Ben has, but what he sees in his nephew, in the boy he’s raised, he sees he’s veering off course in other ways.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

There’s a scene earlier on where he was going to help Uncle Ben paint the house, the kitchen. And he says, “Hey, don’t be late.” And Peter leaves, “I won’t be late,” but Peter spends the time instead testing out his spider powers. He’s climbing walls. He’s doing all those things. And he forgets all about helping Uncle Ben.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

We haven’t talked about this in advance, but that scene so speaks to the power or the character of his Uncle Ben that rather than yell at him for not showing up to help out, his 68 year old uncle paint the kitchen, he leaves a warm food in the oven and writes a note where he calls him Michelangelo because that’s what he called him about helping him paint. There’s this loving response to Peter’s irresponsibility. And that’s what he’s drilling into in this conversation that you just talked about, where he’s saying, “With great power comes great responsibility,” even though he doesn’t know how great the power is that Peter has. It shows the insight that those closest to us can have to our character and sometimes that we might stumble through it and we should listen.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. And I think it goes to show the value of people in our life. It could be a mom, a dad, an aunt, an uncle, close friends, family members. It could be a teacher in school. There are people that can change our lives by not just their love, but by their words. It can change your life. It makes me think of certainly a pivotal moment in my life that listeners will be familiar with, and it’s in my book, Crucible Leadership. In 1976, when as most listeners know, I grew up in a large 150-year-old family media business in Australia. Newspapers, TV, radio, it was very big. In 1976, some other family members shooed my father out as chairman. It absolutely crushed him that that would happen.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And I remember having a conversation with him and he said, “I need to forgive them for what they did because it’s the right thing to do.” I forget if he said, “That’s what God,” or, “That’s what Jesus would have me do.” “And it’s the right thing for you,” because he saw me as the heir apparent and he wanted to try to make sure that one day that I’d be the leading figure in the company. Was it perfect? I don’t know. When he said, “I’m going to make the decision to forgive other family members for what they did, throwing me out as chairman.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

That was one of the most powerful life lessons I’ve ever learned and I was 15 at the time. I was probably a little younger than Peter Parker here. It was burned into my psyche, just the sense of character, of doing the right thing no matter what, of having integrity, and just the importance of forgiveness. That was a lesson that was burned into my soul for the rest of my life. So in a sense, that’s the moment that Peter Parker has from his Uncle Ben, it’s the kind of lesson, like the one I had, that just burns into your soul.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Unfortunately, right off the bat, when it happens, when that conversation with Uncle Ben happens, Peter doesn’t quite get it. Peter actually gets upset with Uncle Ben for lecturing him, quote, unquote. He actually says to him at one point, Uncle Ben backs up and says, “Okay, I know I’m not your father.” And Peter cuts him off and says, “Well, then stop acting like it.” And it just devastates Uncle Ben, the last moment that they have together before Peter leaves the car and goes off to wrestle is Uncle Ben is clearly wounded and Peter’s angry and they part.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And Peter does go on to the wrestling match and he wins. And another thing that was extremely exciting to me as a fan of professional wrestling when I was a young man, the wrestler who he beats is played by the wrestler Macho Man Randy Savage, and he’s just perfect. Total aside to what we’re talking about, but he’s just this brutal. He’s beating everybody up. One guy he beats up leaves the ring and is like, “I can’t feel my legs.” There’s all kinds of that stuff going on. But he gets in the ring with this kid in this weird costume that’s got spider stuff on it. And the kid, Peter Parker, beats him.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So Peter goes backstage to collect his $3,000 from the promoter. And the promoter gives him 100 bucks, to which Peter negotiates into 200 bucks, but he says, “Hey, I was going to pay you three grand for three minutes and you beat him early.” Peter was so strong, he beat Bonesaw McGraw, he beat him in like two minutes, so he gets cheated.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I’ve got to say, that’s a great name.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

It is.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Right? For a wrestler, Bonesaw McGraw.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It doesn’t get any better than that.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

It may be better than Macho Man Randy Savage actually, but yeah, it’s quite good. And so what ends up happening then is Peter walks away and he’s mad. He’s just been cheated out of this money that he thinks is going to make his way to have a car and then woo Mary Jane, and he’s got a couple hundred bucks in his pocket, which is nothing. But then the promoter gets robbed. A thief runs in, steals the bag that has all the money from the gate receipts from this wrestling match and he runs off. And as he’s running off at the elevator, he bumps, he doesn’t bump into Peter, he runs past Peter Parker. And Peter just looks at him and the guy says, “Thanks,” and he gets in the elevator and goes. And I know you were kind of struck by the dialogue that went on between Peter and the promoter, both in the promoter’s office before the robbery, burglary, and then after when Peter doesn’t stop the robber.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. It’s really one of the saddest moments in the movie. It’s almost a biblical Peter moment when Jesus is being sort of harangued by the religious leaders of the Sanhedrin and they’re putting him on trial. And people ask Peter, “Weren’t you one of his gang?” And Peter’s asked three times, “No, never knew him. Don’t know who he is.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s the lowest moment of Peter’s life. And it’s somewhat similar in that earlier on, often we hear the voices of evil and the voices of good, depending on your religious or philosophical paradigm. We can learn lessons from our good mentors, like an Uncle Ben, well here, unfortunately, young Peter Parker was mentored briefly by this promoter. So this promoter, when he’s going to give him $200, not $3000, the promoter says, “Hey, I missed the part where it’s my problem.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right, right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s like, “Look, you didn’t finish the full three minutes, not my problem, okay?” So he’s just been discipled in a sense, in maybe not evil, but poor character. So then later on, when the wresting promoter says to Peter Parker, “Hey, why didn’t you stop him?” And Peter shoots back, “Hey, I missed a part where it’s my problem.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

He uses the promoter’s words against him. It’s the self centered, “Hey, why should I care for my fellow men or women?” It’s like, “Not my problem.” So he’s almost got a bit of discipleship, a bit of mentoring in it’s all about number one, narcissism, nobody else matters, get rich. Everybody else, who cares? It was a sad moment, as we’ll see, that comes back to bite him in a major way.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah. And that bite’s going to be worse than the spider bite for sure. And the other thing that makes it sad is that that happens no more than a couple hours after Uncle Ben has given him that great advice, “With great power comes great responsibility.” And Peter, in that moment at the elevator, fails his first test of wielding great power with great responsibility. And as you said, that will come back to bite him. It comes back to bite him when we find out in the next scene that the thief carjacks Uncle Ben and shoots him to death. Peter arrives just in time to see Uncle Ben die. And the filmmakers do a great job. There’s no final words that Uncle Ben gets to say to Peter or Peter gets to say to Uncle Ben. He recognizes Peter and then he dies. So there’s no chance for Peter to apologize or for Uncle Ben to offer forgiveness. It’s just Peter’s then, we know, is just stuck with this hole in his heart. And remembering that the last thing he ever really spoke to Uncle Ben was, “You’re not my father. Quit acting like it.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Peter is distraught after that, obviously, and he chases down the carjacker. Who once he gets him, he sees the carjacker is the man he let leave in the elevator. He discovers that this carjacker, he could have stopped the carjacker before the carjacking ever happened, but it wasn’t his problem then. He had just gotten rooked out of some money and he was going to pay back that unkindness to the promoter. He did and that robber then got away, hijacked Uncle Ben, shot him to death. And Peter then begins to, as Spider-Man, begins to really pound on the guy, beat him. We get the idea that he intends to kill him. The guy says, “Show me some mercy.” And Peter’s like, “Just like he showed my Uncle Ben.” He takes the mask off that he’s wearing, the kind of amateurish mask he’s wearing, so that the robber can see, “I’m the guy that you ran past in the promoters building.” And he’s like, “Don’t kill me.” And Peter’s like, “I’ll show you mercy like you showed my Uncle Ben.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

We don’t know, another great decision by the filmmaker, we don’t know if Peter was going to kill him or not. He doesn’t get the chance, the guy trips on something and falls out of an upper story window to his death. But that scene, again, really brings home the power of, as you were saying, “Tell me again how this is my problem.” Now he realizes it is his problem, because it’s just cost him his beloved uncle.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. Sometimes when you say, “It’s not my problem,” it can mean maybe people are hurt that you don’t know, but sometimes it may mean people are hurt that you do know, and you love and care about. You never know kind of what’s going to happen. So it’s a very sad scene. And Peter is now really saddled with this sense of guilt, of, “Gee, it’s my responsibility that my beloved uncle died. I had a tough conversation with him, said he wasn’t my real dad. So I ended things in a bad way, didn’t have a chance to reconcile. And because I was so self centered and self focused, I let this bad guy not just hurt and kill some person I don’t know, but somebody I love as much as anybody in the world other than maybe Aunt May.” So obviously he feels, understandably, incredibly guilty and responsible for what happened.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So sometimes you’ll make horrific mistakes in your life. And clearly this is a big one. Is he responsible for Uncle Ben’s death? That’s probably a bit harsh, but he feels that, and that’s the point. And so really the test, as we’ll see in the rest of the movie, is this going to destroy, this crucible? It’s almost maybe one if not the toughest crucible. He is feeling he’s responsible for Uncle Ben’s death. Is that guilt going to drive him to narcissism, to alcohol, to substance abuse? It’d be very understandable if it did, completely understandable. Or will he choose to learn the lessons of his crucible, let it refine him, and somehow use that pain for a purpose to help others? It’s a pivotal moment and we’ll see which choice he makes. Is it to go to the dark side of self destruction or to the light of really empowering, encouraging, and helping others? It’s a critical, pivotal moment in his life.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And one of the things that really helps cement his decision on where he goes is that after Uncle Ben’s funeral, he has a conversation with his other guardian, with his Aunt May. Peter’s distraught and Aunt May doesn’t know exactly why. She doesn’t know anything about Spider-Man, anything about the wrestling match, but she knows Peter’s upset. And she understands that because of how important Uncle Ben has been to his life. But she takes the time, again, the power of encouragement. She says this to him, “You loved him and he loved you.” She says to Peter, “He never doubted the man you’d grow into, how you were meant for great things. You won’t disappoint him.” That’s exactly the kind of support and belief we need to offer others as they look to regain their footing after a crucible, to help them see and take aim at a life of significance. That’s what Aunt May does to him, for him, in his darkest, most desperate moment.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And it changes, exactly as you said, who knows where he could have gone without that exhortation, without that truth from Aunt May, which basically it’s Aunt May acting as a surrogate for Uncle Ben, not knowing what transpired in the car, but basically saying, “He loved you. He believed in you,” fill in the blanks. “He’s not mad at you for losing your cool in the car with him and saying hurtful things. He knows the kind of man you’re going to grow into.” And that does indeed change everything for Peter, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. I guess the thought that occurs to me is that we all need Aunt Mays in our life.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yep.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

We need people in our lowest moments when we might be in the edge of a self destructive spree. I think most of us have been at points in our life where we felt bad about ourselves or bad about what happened to us from somebody else. And it’s very easy to get into a self-destructive spiral that can be difficult to get out of. Having somebody like an Aunt May in our darkest times, as we say in Crucible Leadership, at the bottom of the pit, to say, “You are worth it. You are valued. I love you. I believe in you. And your beloved uncle also loved you and believed in you. And you won’t disappoint him. You didn’t disappoint him.” That kind of belief and encouragement and support when we hate ourselves, we’re at the bottom of the pit, we just hate life, it’s not going to necessarily change us overnight, but those drops of encouragement, of grace, of forgiveness, of belief, they can help give you fuel to begin to climb out of the pit and really move towards the light, to a life of significance. But it’s not easy to do without Aunt Mays.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

But having an Aunt May is sort of a turbo charger that greatly increases your ability to get out of the pit and to move into a more positive direction. It’s a great scene, and yeah, we all need Aunt Mays in our life.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And to your point that Peter begins to live out his life of significance right after that conversation. He does it by patrolling the streets of New York at night and stopping criminals in the act. Now, he dubs himself Spider-Man and more crucibles come. The publisher of the newspaper, J. Jonah Jameson, the Daily Bugle publisher. He labels him a menace and a threat, but he’s just trying to sell newspapers. It turns some in the city against him, but Spider-Man doesn’t let it bother him. Peter doesn’t let it bother him.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

He also then must encounter and face his first super villain, not just guys who are robbing banks or robbing stores. He’s got to face a super villain, the Green Goblin. And the Green Goblin was driven violent and mad by a formula he developed and took himself to try to win a government contract. The Goblin, and Peter doesn’t know this, but the Goblin is the father of his best friend, Harry Osborn. The Goblin is industrialist Norman Osborn, who has taken a bit of a shine to Peter. Peter doesn’t know he’s the Goblin at this point, but he’s been driven mad by his own creation because he was greedy and he wanted to win this government contract.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And what’s interesting about his character, the Green Goblin, is he’s a bit like the Joker from the Batman movies, in one of the Batman movies staring Christian Bale in The Dark Knight, where Heath Ledger won an Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker. Batman is asking Alfred what makes someone like the Joker, the Joker. And Alfred says, “Some guys just like to set the world on fire and watch it burn.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And that’s kind of where the Green Goblin comes from, is Norman Osborn gets a little bit more mad, but he recognizes after a battle with Peter, that Peter’s got some, or that Spider-Man, he doesn’t know what’s Peter yet, that Spider-Man has some skills that could benefit him in whatever the scheme is to make money and harness power. And he tries to turn Peter over to his side. He says that people will hate him despite all of the good he’s doing and he asks him why he bothers. And I love Peter’s response, especially now at this point in the show, Peter’s response when he says why he bothers to do good, even though people are going to hate him eventually.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Peter’s response to the Green Goblin is, “Because it’s the right thing to do.” Well, you just said that, Warwick, like five minutes ago, when you were talking about when you asked your dad why he forgave those family members who threw him out of the company, because it’s the right thing to do. And that’s the kind of character that Peter has here, now developing.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

That’s what we mean when we say your values must undergird all you do as you move beyond your crucible toward life of significance, have an anchor for your soul. Peter Parker, Spider-Man, has that anchor for his soul, or he would not have been able to answer the Green Goblin that way about why he does it. He understands it’s not about anything more than what’s right and what’s wrong and that’s what he’s trying to pursue. Right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, absolutely. This is a fascinating scene and we’ve got Norman Osborn as the Goblin against Peter Parker as Spider-Man. And not only is it a test of physical superhero strength, it’s a battle of character and it’s a battle of the forces of evil versus the forces of light.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And it’s interesting, just some of the backstory, as you were saying, with Norman Osborne, he’s all about himself, about ego, about money. He’s desperate to get this big government contract, but the Defense Department, the top generals in the Pentagon, they don’t really believe in what he’s doing. They think the guy’s a bit of a fruitcake. And so they’re just waiting to pull a plug. And so desperate is he and so greedy that he does something insane and uses this kind of serum on himself that turns him into a madman. One of the key scientists says there are side effects to this that can potentially turn you insane and psychotic. It’s a risk, but the guy is too self absorbed, narcissistic. And indeed, it turned him insane, and he hears these voices, almost voices of evil.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And so here he is talking to Peter and just trying to really not just fight him physically, but almost like the devil in the Bible, he’s just trying to tempt him, saying, “People like to see heroes fail so why bother?” As you say, and Spider-Man replies, “Well, because it’s the right thing to do.” He tempts him saying, “Hey, we could make a great team,” but Peter’s chosen a different path. The Green Goblin is now all about self destruction, hurting and killing people, and his own tortured, insane, psychotic self. Peter has really turned to the light, if you will, to help people. So he won’t be tamped. He won’t use his forces to hurt people. He’ll use his superpowers to help people. So really it’s a fight of physical strength, superhero strength, but it’s also a fight of character, a fight of evil against good. So this battle is fought on multiple levels.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah. And that scene is also interesting because it spotlights another key truth about Crucible Leadership. This idea that the Green Goblin is saying, “They’re going to hate you anyway.” Right? “They love to watch heroes fall. They build you up so they can knock you down.” And one of the things that you say a lot, that we say a lot on the show, and that you say a lot through Crucible Leadership is don’t let the naysayers deter you or adulation distract you as you are executing your vision for a life of significance. Significance is not something you find in public opinion. Don’t test the winds and go with the way the winds are blowing. It’s something you find within. And that’s what Peter calls on when the Goblin tries to tempt him. He’s learned that lesson from Uncle Ben.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s such a great point. One of the most important things I think listeners would do well to ponder on is if you’re looking to be the hero and save the day and the knight in armor on the white horse, danger lies there. Some would say, with some degree of truth and veracity, maybe I had a bit of a hero complex when I launched the $2.25 billion takeover in my family’s 150-year-old media company way back in 1987, and this, not consciously, but I felt like that company was being run by some other folks in my family, and others, not along the ideals of the founder. Whether it’s true or not is another story.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

But there was a little bit of that savior hero complex there, I’ve got to confess, but yeah, you’ve got to watch that because certainly I’ve been through periods where some people said, “Oh, you could be one of the greatest Fairfaxes since the founder, John Fairfax.” And others said, “We’ve been praying for a person of faith to rise up in the heart of the media for decades.” And all that’s pretty heavy, tempting stuff. And then others at the time and subsequently were like, “Well, you single handedly destroyed a 150-year-old company.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

“You’re this erratic kid, at the time, who could have had it all, threw it all away. So you’re just impetuous and showed poor judgment.” And maybe sometimes there’s a little bit of truth in either stereotype, but you can not be defined either by the adulation you receive or by the condemnation. Ultimately your sense of self-worth should be in your faith, in your values, in the core of your beliefs that are at the heart of your soul. That’s what should govern your sense of self-worth, not the adulating, because you’re the greatest thing since Jesus or you’re the worst person that’s ever lived, both are probably wrong.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So you’ve got to anchor your belief and your self-worth in something beyond public opinion. And that’s what Peter Parker does. He’s seen as a vigilante, I think as you mentioned, the editor of the Daily Bugle, for his own reasons, paints him as a vigilante. Public opinion is very divided over whether he’s a force for good or evil, Spider-Man, but he does not let that deter him from his mission.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. Right. Pretty significant thing then happens in the movie. The Green Goblin discovers Spider-Man’s true identity. He realizes he is Peter Parker. He knows Peter Parker because Peter is the best friend of Norman Osborn’s son, Harry. So he recognizes who Spider-Man is, and that’s the key, he believes, to defeating him. He says this when he’s talking to himself, that evil side is talking to the Norman Osborn side, “The cunning warrior attacks neither body or mind,” he says. “First we attack the heart.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So he attacks Aunt May and he kidnaps Mary Jane. That idea, what Norman Osborn, Green Goblin says in that moment, is a platinum truth of Crucible Leadership we need to remember every day. Those things that will discourage us most, that pose the greatest danger to knock the wind out of our sails and change the trajectory of our lives, are the things that hurt us in our hearts and our souls. That’s why, as we’ve talked about so much on this show, we must always be mindful of what I’ve heard you call dozens of times, soul care. Why is that so critical for all of us, as we look to avoid crucibles, weather crucibles, and pursue a life of significance?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s such a great point. One of the things that most religions, I’d say many people believe, is there is a fight, if you will, between good and evil out there. I can’t think of any religion that does not believe that. And so whether you view it that way or more metaphysically like in Star Wars where it’s the force, the force for good versus the dark side, that’s true.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And what I love about this movie is it isn’t just a fight at a physical super hero level between good and evil. This voice, almost in a psychotic schizophrenic way, talks to Norman Osborn as the Goblin. And unfortunately mentors him exceptionally well. From a dark side perspective, it’s fantastic advice, if you’re on the dark side. Don’t just attack the person, physically crush their soul. If you crush their soul, you will stop their ability to win, their ability to fight.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It doesn’t quite say it in those words, but when that evil entity, if you will, just talks about the battle is basically about hurting their hearts and hurting their souls. That is just so, so sad. And as we see just later on, the way that Green Goblin does this, to attack Peter’s heart, is by attacking Aunt May, his beloved Aunt May. And there’s an incredible scene where the Green Goblin knows who he is and he proceeds to attack Aunt May, who, to reiterate this whole good versus evil, she’s reciting the Lord’s prayer.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

She’s saying, “Our father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” She’s reciting that as this evil is happening and the Green Goblin is saying, “Continue,” loves the whole good versus evil fight.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right, right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

“Keep it up.” He’s almost taunting. Almost like Satan in the wilderness with Jesus kind of thing, just taunting. It’s so true. And I think the lesson for all of us is guard your hearts, guard your soul. Where your heart and soul is, is where you a whole life is, where your whole direction is. Soul care, physical fitness, eating right, really important, but dig down into what you believe is the ultimate truth. Whether it’s faith, whatever religion that would be, beliefs, philosophy, make sure you’re 100% grounded every day with practices that guard your heart and your soul, because you lose the battle for your heart and your soul, you’ve lost the battle for your whole life. So that is the ultimate Fort Knox of your life, that you guard it with every fiber of your being, your soul. It’s absolutely critical.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Aunt May’s in the hospital after she’s attacked by the Green Goblin. There’s a scene in the hospital where she’s talking to Peter. Again, no idea he’s Spider-Man, none of that, just knows he’s Peter Parker who’s worried about his beloved Aunt May. There’s a scene that moved you when they’re talking about Mary Jane and she’s urging him to just quit keeping it a secret and tell her how you feel. “Why can’t you tell her how you feel?” But there was a scene there that moved you. Talk about that a little bit.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

One of the subtexts in this movie is Peter has loved Mary Jane his whole life. And Mary Jane really sees something in Peter she’s sort of evolving into because she’s, like a lot of folks, attracted to the strong, handsome football player, but there’s something in Peter that she admires. Peter then gives, who is really himself fantastic at empathy and encouragement, he gives actually Mary Jane that compliment. He says, “When you look at Mary Jane’s eyes, you know what kind of man you want to be. You have reached the unreachable. You feel stronger yet weaker.” Basically she kind of bores into your soul or just that she just has this effect on you that’s hard to describe.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And I think we all want people who make us be the man or woman that we want to be, that we feel we could be. And he sees in Mary Jane as somebody who also believes in him. It’s not just he believes in Mary Jane, she believes in Peter Parker, as we’ll see towards the end of the movie. She admires him. She admires his soul. He has Aunt May and Uncle Ben, but here’s somebody that he deeply loves who absolutely 100% really believes in him. And that’s huge for him. There’s something about her that inspires him to be better than himself so it’s a wonderful, wonderful scene.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

This is not a spoiler. It’s a superhero movie, heroes, beat villains. Spider-Man defeats the Green Goblin in the end. And there’s a great scene during the final battle that I really loved when all these everyday New Yorkers gather around the scene of the fight that’s taking place kind of up in the air on scaffolding. The Green Goblin has his glider that he rides on. Spider-Man’s got his webs and they’re fighting all above the earth there. But all these New Yorkers from all walks of life gather to cheer on Spider-Man and to go against the Goblin.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And they start throwing things at the Green Goblin who’s got these bombs that can radiate you, right? That can just make you vanish. He’s got bombs that’ll blow things up. He’s a very high tech guy who could kill any one of these average New Yorkers who are chiding him, but they’re telling him to leave Spider-Man alone and they’re throwing rotten fruit at him, they’re throwing stuff at him. And there’s scores of them, maybe hundreds of them up there.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And one of them says this, “You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.” It’s a small scene, but it’s a critical truth about the importance of living a life of significance. Our life of significance can inspire others to lead lives of significance. We change the world by changing the people living in the world. And what Spider-Man has done through his acts of dedicated to saving New York, to serving New York and its citizenry, what he has done is inspired that same kind of selflessness in the people of New York. If you blink, you’ll miss the scene, but it’s really a powerful truth about what Crucible Leadership aims to teach, isn’t it?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, absolutely, Gary. It’s a great scene in which maybe not every New Yorker thinks that Spider-Man’s a hero, but he sees it in this final scene, one of the final scenes, Spider-Man is trying at the same time to save Mary Jane and also save people that are in this tram, the Roosevelt Island tram that connects Roosevelt Island with Manhattan. I’ve actually traveled on that tram, funnily enough, but fortunately the Green Goblin wasn’t around, so that was good. Yeah.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

You escaped there. Good for you.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Exactly. Hopefully a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man would’ve saved me, but it’s a great moment where Spider-Man is inspired in a sense, Peter Parker is, by his Aunt May and certainly his Uncle Ben in that scene about using your powers for good to help others. And here he’s inspired other people, fellow New Yorkers, who throw stones and whatever they can against the Green Goblin. He’s inspired a bunch of folks.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And when you feel like you’re living a life of significance, we always talk about if you can help one person, that’s enough. More? That’s great. But it’s not about numbers, but it’s making a difference in people’s lives. And Peter Parker is not just saving them physically, he’s also saving them in terms of character. He’s helping them become people that also lead lives of significance. They’re focused on helping others. These folks are trying to help Spider-Man and combat the Green Goblin and maybe save those poor people on that tram. It’s a great scene. It’s one of the final scenes before we get to the ultimate conflict between Spider-Man and the Goblin and the continuation of that scene is also very powerful.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah. And in the continuation of that scene, again, not a spoiler, the Green Goblin is indeed killed by his own glider and the trident or the things on the front that stab him to death when he’s trying to use it to kill Spider-Man. And speaking of Spider-Man’s character, Peter Parker’s character, in that moment as the Green Goblin lay dying, again, the Green Goblin is Norman Osborn who’s the father of Peter’s friend Harry. There’s something that transpires that the Goblin asks him to do that Peter weighs and his response to it speaks to his character and the truth that sometimes living out of your character causes you some challenges. It’s not always easy to live your life according to your values and your character. How does that play out in the death scene of the Green Goblin?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, it’s a great scene. So as you say, Green Goblin takes off his mask, reveals that he’s Norman Osborn. And Norman pretends to befriend Peter, it’s all a trick, it’s all just a device. Again, it’s right out of the evil playbook, if you will. He says to Peter, “I was like a father to you,” while he’s manipulating some remote device to get his glider thing all geared up to kill Peter Parker, Spider-Man, behind his back. And so in this retort to Norman Osborn saying, “Hey, I was like a father to you.” Peter says, “I had a father. His name was Ben Parker.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Now, obviously that’s Uncle Ben. That’s not his actual father, but in that moment, he’s saying Ben Parker was the father I knew, the father that raised me, and I loved him. Basically you’re certainly no Ben Parker. So it’s a wonderful scene.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And it gives him the chance, it gives Peter Parker, Spider-Man, the chance to redeem that last moment he had with Uncle Ben, where he said, “Stop acting like my father if you’re not my father.” He redeems that part in this final scene with the Green Goblin. And then beyond that, he has to make a decision.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. Very well said. And so sort of poetic justice, the Green Goblin gets killed by his own device. So Spider-Man doesn’t actually kill him, he just moves out of the way and this device with the trident kills the Green Goblin. And so then as Norman Osborn has moments to live, he says to Peter, “Please don’t tell my son, Harry, who I am and what happened,” because basically he wants his son to think well of him. To Peter’s great cost in subsequent movies, Peter does not reveal that Harry’s father, Norman Osborn, was the Green Goblin. And he keeps that promise, as we’ll find, to his great cost. He does the honorable thing to really out of love and care for his good buddy, Harry. It’s a very kind thing that he does and a noble thing, but it would come at great cost as we’ll see in later movies.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Absolutely. So the end of the movie then is all set up at that point for the hero to get the girl, right? We all love to see that happen in these kinds of movies. There’s been lots of tension. There’s been lots of conflict. There’s this unrequited love between two characters. We want to see them get together. And that almost happens at the end of this movie. Mary Jane confesses her love to Peter. As much as he loves her though, he tells her he doesn’t love her, that he just wants to be her friend. He’s determined, we hear him say it in an internal monologue, that, “No matter what I do, no matter how I try, the ones I love will always be the ones who pay.” The price of his life of significance, of serving and saving the city, is he can’t get the girl. But teaser alert, at least not yet. He does indeed get the girl in Spider-Man 2. And there’s even some suggestion that he might get the girl in Spider-Man 3.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

That’s a pretty steep price. A lot of times we can think that living in a life of significance then coincides with living like we have everything we want. That necessarily isn’t true in real life, R-E-A-L, or in reel life, R-E-E-L, in this case. Peter doesn’t get everything he wants, even though he’s doing what he knows to be the right thing, the life of significance, dedicated to serving others and living it very much on purpose to the point that he denies his own romantic feelings for the girl he’s loved since he was six.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, it’s so true. It’s such a great scene in the movie. And it really begins in just an incredible way in which Mary Jane said when she thought she was about to die and she was dangling in the air, along with the folks in the Roosevelt Island tramway car while the Green Goblin was fighting Spider-Man. She said when she thought she was about to die, she thought of Peter. Now, she doesn’t know Peter Parker’s Spider-Man. And for most folks, it’s like, “What girl wouldn’t fall in love with Spider-Man? He’s the hero. He’s the superhero.” Peter Parker is just Peter Parker.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And in fact, she has fallen in love a little bit with Spider-Man. They have the iconic film kiss where they kiss in the rain. She’s kind of drawn to Spider-Man because he’s so heroic, but she has no idea that it’s her friend, Peter, or the man now that she loves, Peter. She has no idea about that when this scene happens.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. Yeah. So true. But sometimes when you think, “This is going to be my last night on earth, I’m about to die,” reality gets really crystallized. What is it you value? Who do you really love? And she loves Peter. She said there’s only been one man for her. She says Peter makes her feel that she’s more that she could be. And she tells him that she loves him. And basically, I think it’s because of his character. She falls in love with his character, with the good man that Peter Parker is who’s always caring for others, empathizing and encouraging them. She feels like she can be a better woman with Peter by her side. Makes her feel that she can really believe in herself because Peter helps her believe in herself. It’s a great scene.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So that would be incredibly affirming and I’m sure Peter was moved deeply. But as you say, internally, he says, “I’ll always care for you. I’ll always be there, but we’ll have to be friends,” because he feels like that, as you say, his internal monologue, “Everybody that I care for, I put in danger.” And so his higher purpose is to care for others, especially Mary Jane. And by being her boyfriend and maybe husband one day, he feels like she’ll be in danger. So it’s almost like inside he’s saying I love you too much.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

To love you in the way that you want me to love you. She can’t know that he’s thinking that. And not only that, not only do I love you too much to have a serious relationship with you, my duty is to other human beings, is to humanity, is to men and women and to protect and serve and save them. And I can’t have anything derail my higher purpose. It’s the ultimate sacrifice as he sacrifices the love of his life to protect her because he loves her so much. And also because his highest purpose is to serve others. It is the ultimate life of significance. It’s an incredible heroic and almost the ultimate selfless act on so many levels.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah. So there’s one beat from the most recent iteration of Spider-Man that’s worth pointing out, just because it reflects most of what our conversation has been about here or the high points of this conversation of Spider-Man 2002. And that is in the most recent iteration of Spider-Man, he doesn’t have an Uncle Ben. He has, as I’ve said before, he has an Aunt May who makes me feel really old because the actress, Marisa Tomei, who plays her, is younger than I am. I don’t know how I’m ever going to get over it. I’m never going to get over that, actually. But in the current iteration of Spider-Man, it’s not Uncle Ben, but Ironman who takes him under his wing, perhaps under his armor, and teaches him to believe in himself, to trust his powers, to trust the goodness inside him.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And as we wrap up here, that’s really a role we all should look to play, in encouraging others pursuing their lives of significance. Isn’t it? In every Spider-Man iteration, there’s that character or characters who speak encouragement, life, affirmation into the hero. And that’s a big reason of why he becomes a hero. That’s a great lesson for us as we’re interacting with people, to help them become “heroes”, by doing the same thing, isn’t it?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s so true. It’s hard to think of people that have done heroic things without somebody that just believes in them. It’s really the power of both encouraging and being encouraged, having an Aunt May and Uncle Ben that, or in some sense, a Mary Jane, that really believe in you. It can help you be better than you thought you could be. It could help you be everything you dreamed about in terms of who you are as a character and how you would serve others.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

But I think it also speaks, too few times in life do we focus on encouraging others. I’ve often found people think things, but they don’t say it. I have this mantra, if you will, in terms of things on a positive side, “If you see something, say something.” In other words, if you see something positive, say something. I’ve tried to do it with people I know and with the nonprofit boards I’ve served on. I’m not perfect, but it’s one of my highest values is if there’s something that you see that is worthwhile, mention what it is and be specific. And don’t hold back because it’s like rocket fuel to you, well, it would be like rocket fuel to others. And especially when we’re in our lowest moments.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I think back in the early ’20s of when President Franklin Roosevelt was stricken with polio. He was, I don’t know, maybe early 40s or something. He was in the height of life and he gets polio, which back then was a death sentence. You were meant to hide away. It was shameful for whatever reason in society. And his wife, Eleanor, just believes in him, saying, “Your life is not over. You can have a political comeback,” which back then, would seem unthinkable. And his mother, Sara Roosevelt was more, “Yep, you should stay home and lead a quiet life.” I’m sure a wonderful woman, but that wasn’t helpful, his mother’s advice. What was helpful was the rocket fuel from Eleanor Roosevelt. In his darkest moment, she believed in him. Without Eleanor Roosevelt, there would be no Franklin Roosevelt as president in the height of the Depression, at the height of World War II. So can you imagine World War II or the Depression without Franklin Roosevelt? It’s unthinkable. It’s a scary thought. Who knows what the United States or the world would be like.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So having an Eleanor Roosevelt in your life or an Aunt May is critical, and being an Aunt May or an Eleanor Roosevelt. You don’t know who you’re talking to, who they’ll be in terms of character or anything else in life. It’s a great model for us, Aunt May and Uncle Ben in this movie.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And that’s a great on-ramp to the reflection question that we have for this episode. Every time we do one of these dialogue episodes, especially here in the series, we want to leave you, listener, with something to ponder. And I’ll talk about this Warwick, and then I’ll throw it to you to pull the balloon strings together and put the bow on the package. But here’s the reflection point for you, listener. The movie really shows the power of encouragement. We’ve talked about it this entire episode. Whether it’s Uncle Ben believing in and guiding Peter to become a man of character or Peter supporting Mary Jane as she pursues her dreams of becoming an actress.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So ask yourself this question. Who in your life needs encouragement? Who needs to know that you believe in them? Now to Warwick’s point, go tell them. Turn the podcast off right now and go tell them. And be specific about the character traits you see fueling their success, but also their significance. Be as specific as you can be about those things that you want to affirm in them. This should be a bumper sticker. Be someone’s Uncle Ben, right? Be someone’s Uncle Ben. If you get nothing else out of this show, get this, be someone’s Uncle Ben. Get that or whatever it is Warwick’s going to leave us with at the end. Warwick, wrap it up for us.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Well, I think that is a great point to end on, I have to say, but to reiterate what you’re saying, Gary, you never know who you’re going to affect. It may be that somebody may achieve greatness like a Franklin Roosevelt, or maybe not quite at that level, which who of us do. But when you think about a life of significance, a life on purpose dedicated to serving others, there are fewer greater ways to live a life of significance than to encourage others, especially at their lowest moments where they’re in the bottom of the pit. And not just saying that you believe in them, but telling them why you believe in them and being there for them. And don’t just do it one and done. They’re probably going to need to hear it more than once.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And it’s not flattery. Flattery is saying things that aren’t true, which I absolutely don’t believe in. Encouragement is saying things that are true, that the person is going to have difficulty believing in their lowest moments. But be specific, talk about their character traits. And if you have to think of, “Well, how can I think of who to pick?” Pick whoever comes to your heart, but certainly if you have a friend or somebody that you know well, especially because it gives you a bit more of a right to speak, think of somebody that maybe today is their lowest day. Maybe they’re in the bottom of the pit. Give them some words of encouragement that will be like drops of grace in a soul that’s parched, that may not have much ability to move on. So just think of that person who you can encourage and just make a difference in their life. Because that’s, to me, it’s almost one of the ultimate ways of living a life of significance.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

That is a perfect place to end the show. So thank you, listener, for spending time with us on this fifth episode of our series LIGHTS, CAMERA, CRUCIBLES, in which we’re talking about the lessons we can learn, the inspiration we can draw from our favorite movie heroes, be they superheroes, action heroes, historical heroes.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Next week, just so you can do the advanced screening of the film if you wish, we’re going to talk about another one of my favorites, Die Hard, the first Die Hard from 1987 staring Bruce Willis. Lots of great crucible experience information in there. In fact, we’ve published a blog at crucibleleadership.com a couple years ago around Christmastime because Die Hard is a Christmas movie, just so you know. There’s a little bit of confusion about that, some controversy, but I’m telling you, from the co-host of the show here, it’s a Christmas movie. And it’s a bit of a superhero movie as well.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

But until the next time we’re together and we talk about Die Hard, we ask that you remember this, that we understand your crucibles are difficult. Those experiences can knock the wind out of your sails. They can make you feel as if the trajectory of your life has changed. Certainly Peter Parker’s trajectory of his life changed when as Spider-Man he encountered some of those crucibles that the Green Goblin threw at him. But if we learn the lessons from them, if we apply those lessons moving forward, and Peter applied some lessons that he learned from his Uncle Ben about character, about with great power comes great responsibility, if you learn those kinds of lessons through the difficult times in our lives, that will make the times ahead in our lives less difficult. And will, in fact, in the most rewarding outcome that we can get, is they will lead us to, as they led Peter Parker and Spider-Man to, a life of significance.