Symbiote Spider-Man: A Metaphor for Christian Living and Sin


Many creative ventures in the entertainment world today do not reflect Christian values, in fact many do quite the opposite. Can Christians pull some spiritual truths from today’s secular stories though? I think so. Before we start it is important to note that while I don’t think the writers intentionally put biblical truths in their stories, we are told through God’s Word in Romans 2:14-15 that His law is imprinted into our being when He creates us. So for a writer to tell a story about definitive morality, they will likely draw upon their God-given knowledge of biblical moral truth for at least part of their story. It is completely possible for a person to come up with their own moral law for their writing, but if as Christians we study our Bible (like we should) we should be able to line up what man or woman has written with scripture to see some spiritual truths in their writing.
With that being said, this is how I see the story of Spider-Man and the symbiote suit metaphorically telling us what it is like to live in sin. For those that don’t know the story, I will give a brief overview, or you can read the synopsis from the Wikipedia article here. Spider-Man lives his life on a moral truth, that is also a biblical derivative though it isn’t presented as biblical in the writing, taught to him by his deceased Uncle Ben. “With great power comes great responsibility.” (Luke 12:48) Every day he battles evil with his super powers to save the people of New York City by defeating thugs, villains, and even super-villains. There are many tellings of the story, but to preface this article I will stick to how the story is told in Spider-Man 3 since most people will likely be familiar with that account. After learning that Flint Marko (AKA The Sandman) was the one who killed Peter Parker’s (Spider-Man’s) Uncle Ben, he accidentally comes into contact with an alien muck from a meteorite that plunged into the earth earlier in the movie. The muck turns out to be an alien life form that bonds with him and enhances his super powers by becoming his symbiote suit. At a cost. The suit also takes over his personality and turns him into a spiteful and arrogant person that turns his friends from him. So what can we learn about sin from this story? I’m glad you asked. I will highlight some things he does in his suit and pair them with what we can take away from the story biblically.
The Suit Clouds His Thoughts
A constant in the symbiote suit story is that Spidey inevitably turns from his selfless, morally-centered person to a much more brutal and careless super hero. He vengefully attacks his foes with no mercy and little thought of justice or imprisonment. Peter Parker is typically a very soft-spoken and merciful guy, but the suit causes him to have hateful thoughts. In the 1990’s cartoon series, he nearly kills the Rhino after preventing him from stealing some things for the Kingpin. Fortunately he catches himself before driving a giant steel door into the Rhino’s head. The poor web-slinger ends up swinging away in embarrassment. If we look at Spider-Man living his life in the suit as a metaphor for living his life in sin, this will fit well with the Christian-living model. The suit clouds his thoughts and causes him to think sinfully. It even makes him think that he likes it! In the same way when we live in sin, we let it cloud our thoughts, and it makes us think that we enjoy what we are feeling when we would much more enjoy living in God’s will. The result is that we can easily find ourselves doing things we would never have thought that we would do.
The Suit Makes Him Want to Conform
In Spider-Man 3, shortly after Spidey kills Sandman, (or so he thinks) he stops at a mirror as he sees his reflection. He tussles his hair and messes it up to make it fit his new image and to make it more appealing. You see, Peter Parker has always been the nerd in class that got the good grades and didn’t worry so much about how he looked. Now though, he is the black-suited Spider-Man. He is much cooler so he can’t have that same lame, geeky haircut from before. Peter conforms his appearance to what the world around him says is cool. Before long he is a different person entirely and chases those that are close to him away. We will go further into how he does that a little later though. tobey-maguire-spiderman-3-1 Sin has a very similar effect on us. We can very easily find ourselves compromising our faith to fit in with the crowd if we aren’t careful. A haircut here, a horror film there, and soon we can find ourselves in an entirely different world than the one we started in, and one we didn’t want to be in. Now I’m not saying we can’t have fun, and I am certainly not the type of person to criticize someone else for what they do for entertainment. (Within reason) Certainly different people are more susceptible to different sins too. Like Spidey though, we can easily find ourselves on a slippery slope to compromising values that we shouldn’t if we aren’t careful.
He is Tempted to Wear the Suit
So we know that the suit causes Peter to want to do things that he normally wouldn’t the same way sin does in our lives, so one would think he would want to get rid of the suit. He does… and he doesn’t. The suit tempts him to continue living in it. The more he uses the suit, the harder it is for him to resist the temptation to wear it. Under the symbiote’s influence, he has pushed his friends away, nearly killed his enemies, and he even physically scars his best friend for life in some versions of the story. Sin is very similar in that it has an allure that draws us into it. Our flesh naturally desires immediate, sinful pleasure while our spirit desires godly pleasure. (Galatians 5:17) The more we live our lives in sin, the more tempting sin is to us. Just as ultimately Peter Parker has to make a choice to abandon the suit altogether, after many times of returning to it, we must also make the choice to abandon our sinful nature. This is also why we are told to die to ourselves to be given life in Christ. (Galatians 2:20) We should let our flesh die so we can live through Christ in our spirit.
The Symbiote Disguises Itself
The alien symbiote is very crafty. It can change its appearance from a epic-looking black Spidey suit, to a slick get-up effectively hiding that it is even being worn by its host. Another scene from an episode in the 1990’s cartoon has Spider-Man climbing the wall of a building that, unbeknownst to him, Felisha Harding is in. (A girl he likes) The symbiote turns into a 3-piece, Italian suit and he leaps off of the building. When Felisha comes out of the building, he makes an unusually strong pass at her. Flash Thompson, Parker’s bully, comes out of the building and reminds Peter that he plans to court Felisha. While our hero would typically back down and take the high road out of the conversation, he instead has a threatening argument with the bully. This sounds great right? I mean, the little guy is finally standing up for himself, and Hollywood tells us that is glamorous doesn’t it? Unfortunately it doesn’t have that effect on Felisha. She tells Peter that he has changed, and he is scaring her. 90s spidey suit So while the suit changes its appearance to hide its true nature and make itself more appealing, it still makes the inner person something worse than he was before getting the suit. Sin does this too. It masks itself to appeal to us and make us think it isn’t as bad as it is. The truth is that it changes us on the inside for the worse every time. Some sin wears a mask to make it seem like it won’t hurt anyone else and that it won’t be a big deal, but if God took the time to warn us about it in His Word, then it will inevitably hurt us. We would be wise to heed His advice.
When He Finally Gets Rid of the Suit
After a lot of grief and Spider-Man finding himself to be a different person he never wanted to be, he decides that he needs to get rid of the symbiote once and for all. After a long battle with the alien, he sheds it. He knows the battle is far from over though. He has burnt many bridges with his friends and family, his schoolwork has suffered, and the public image of him has worsened. Peter now has to spend a lot of his time changing everyone’s image of him back to what it was when he was your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. He has taken the first step though, he has given up his life in the suit. While we can’t completely get rid of sin, we can definitely commit our lives to not living in it. We need to repent the same way Spidey has to so he can mend those damaged relationships. Our repentance can be much easier though. Human grace is limited, but God’s grace is not. All we are to do is ask forgiveness. (1 John 1:9) God would not send his Son as a sacrifice for our sins if he were not willing to forgive. We must also pledge to try to steer our lives away from sin as well. If we choose to live our lives trying to shun sin, we walk closer to Christ. The closer we are to Christ, the more we know Him, understand His will for our lives, and the happier our lives will be. Let’s shed our symbiotes.

Shawn Bain

Shawn is the Vice President of Geeks Under Grace and director of marketing. He has played video games since he was 2 years old and has immersed himself deep within the geek culture. Writing short stories and releasing them for free to the public began his writing journey, and now he uses what he has learned along the way to help Christians benefit from geek culture. Out of his desire to serve Christ, he also founded DUDEronomy and continues to write short stories that entertain and give perspective into the life of a Christian. Shawn's hope is that his life would exemplify a follower of Christ and lead people to accept salvation through His grace. He wants to be a good father, husband, son, and friend to those around him.

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