Out of all the people in the world, he saved me. – Max
Spider-Man has got to be one of the most popular super-heroes of all time, I think because there is something about his story that is our story (for more on that, see Spider-Man, Superman and the Christian Story). This time around, Spider-Man has some simple but profound applications for every day life that you don’t want to miss!
Let’s look at Max. Max (played by Jamie Foxx), is a bit of a bumbling science nerd whom Spider-Man saves from on-coming traffic when he drops his blueprints in the middle of the street. Spider-Man does a couple of key things for Max in their interaction. 1. He saves him. 2. He takes the time to talk with Max. It’s brief, but that minute of conversation means the world to Max. 3. He encourages Max that HE has a purpose and HE can help be Spider-Man’s eyes and ears. 4. He remembers Max’s name. That small interaction makes a profound influence on Max. “Out of all the people in the world, he saved me;” Max marvels.
When we see Max later, he is in an elevator with Gwen Stacy. She, too, takes the time to notice him and talk with him. When she leaves, she says, “Nice to meet you, Max.” Certainly nothing profound, but Max again marvels at their interaction—“She remembered my name!”
All Max wants is to be noticed and to feel special. Spider-Man and Gwen both did that for him without even realizing it, just by simple, everyday things—noticing him, talking to him, remembering his name.
Max is a little, well, unstable may be the best word for it. He is scientifically brilliant, but socially a bit awkward and clueless. He’s felt invisible and unimportant all his life. Companies have taken advantage of this, using his designs without giving him credit for them. No doubt people have overlooked him (and worse) all his life. So, when Max gets supercharged with electricity he sees his opportunity to be somebody. He can be super like his hero, Spider-Man.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t go well for Max. He ends up hurting a lot of people and causing a lot of damage in his hunger to be appreciated and recognized. The irony of it all is that Max could have made a difference in the world, as Max, putting his genius to good use. The moment he tried to be more than or other than what he was, things went badly. In his defense, Max said, “I just wanted everyone to see me.”
11 Little Layers of Meanings and Applications:
- As Art Williams famously used to say, “People all have a neon light on their forehead saying, ‘Make me feel special!’” Max was desperate for anyone to make him feel special.
- How can you make the people around you feel special?
- What are the things Spider Man and Gwen did to make Max feel special? Was it hard?
- What are the things that make you feel special (noticed, seen, appreciated)?
- Such a little thing as stopping to talk to someone or remembering someone’s name can make all the difference.
- Do you ever struggle to take time to stop, look someone in the eyes and talk to them? Why? Would you be better if you knew it mattered to them?
- How good are you at remembering people’s names? Would you be better (or work harder at it) if you thought it would really make a difference to them?
- Max’s sense of worth came from whether or not other people noticed him, when it should have come from the fact that God made him and loved him.
- What makes you feel like you have worth? What are the things that make you feel good about yourself? If those things were gone, would you still feel that you had value?
- Relationships are everything. Max was brilliant, but that didn’t seem to matter when no one else cared about him.
- Is there anything that could substitute for relationships in your life?
- Max sought attention in the wrong ways and doing so became very destructive.
- How have you sought attention in the wrong things? What were the results?
- Spider-Man had a moment where he could have helped electro-Max stop hurting people and get himself under control—because he understand what Max really wanted. Max didn’t want to hurt anyone; he just wanted people to be seen/noticed. That moment was ruined when other people treated Max like a villain and fought him as if he was an enemy. When they did that, Max became the enemy. Negative attention was still attention, for Max.
- When someone else is seeking attention in the wrong ways, how might you help? Do you think there might be something you could do to make the situation better and/or to help the person stop seeking attention in the wrong ways?
- When someone is seeking attention in the wrong ways, how do people’s reactions sometimes make the situation worse? Have you seen this in your own life?
- People often live up to what we expect of them. Max became the enemy when everyone treated him like he was the enemy.
- What do you think other people expect of you? Do you more often live up to those expectations or defy them?
- How powerful do you think it is for other people that you have positive expectations of them? Do you have negative expectations you could/should change into positive ones—for others and/or for yourself?
- Although it’s not clearly shown, we get the feeling that Max was bullied all his life. People (and corporations) may have used him for his brains but they didn’t value him as a person. This had a lot to do with how he reacted when he got powers. He finally felt he had the power to change things and there were things he was desperate to change.
- How do you think Max might have handled his super-charged powers differently if he hadn’t been bullied but had been valued throughout his life leading up to that point?
- Do you know people that are bullied? How might their bullying be setting them up for something explosive in the future?
- How might your kindness to someone who has been bullied help them handle things when their circumstances change?
- Part of Max’s problem (and it’s a definite theme throughout the movie) is that he idolized Spider-Man. When he felt that his idol had failed him (and it wasn’t hard for Spidey’s enemies to make it look like he had), Max was furious. Much of his destructive behavior was due to his anger that Spider-Man failed him in some way.
- You may not feel that you have idols in your life, but what are the things you have put your hope in? What are the things you have up on a pedestal—the things (or people) that you would be crushed by if they failed you?
- Have any of your “idols” ever failed you? How did you respond?
- What do you think is the line between honoring and admiring something and worshipping something (which is what we do with idols)?
- Have you ever felt like anyone put you on a pedestal? How did it feel?
- God says HE will never disappoint you. He also says that you are to have NO gods (or idols) before Him. Why do you think that is so important? Do Spider-Man and Max help you understand the importance of not worshipping anything other than God a little better?
- People, like Max, just want to be seen.
- Do you think the “nobodies” around you would say that you see them, or would they say they were invisible to you? If the latter, how can you change that?
- If you feel like you are a “nobody”, how would you like for the people around you to treat you differently?
- Max was amazed that out of all the people in the world, Spider-Man saved him.
- Have you ever been amazed that out of all the people in the world, God saw you, loved you, saved you?
- How many people in the world do you think might have Max’s response if they knew that God loved them and died to save them?