The Unexplored Depths of Spider-Man 3 – Facing the Dragon of Grandiosity

The Unexplored Depths of Spider-Man 3 – Facing the Dragon of Grandiosity

Hey, I’m gonna be swinging in from over there, so you know where to look. Give ‘m a good show. When Spider-Man 3 came out
it was met with a lot of negativity; mostly based on the overabundance
of villains and the campy tone that felt somewhat outdated after Nolan successfully gave the
superhero genre a more gritty change of direction. But what I’m more interested in is how perhaps
because of this, its thematic content and place in the trilogy have gone largely untouched,
which is a shame, because despite its faults, I believe there is still a lot to uncover,
especially regarding the discussion of grandiosity; generally defined as an inflated
sense of self-importance. Who is it that breaks your fall, puts out the flames and saves your children? – Spider-Man! They love me. In his book Facing the Dragon, Robert Moore
presents an in-depth study on grandiosity as a powerful energy burning fiercely in the
heart of every human being; an energy that can lead to destructive narcissism. This kind of grandiosity has been present
in the previous Spider-Man films, but in my opinion doesn’t really reach its conclusion
until the third one, and therefore deserves closer investigation. So today, let’s dive into the unexplored
depths of Spider-Man 3; examine the nature and dynamics of grandiosity in
Peter Parker’s journey, and reflect on how it gives deeper meaning to Sam Raimi’s trilogy, and the superhero genre as a whole. Before we get into the discussion on grandiosity,
we first have to understand the nature in which it exists in the Spider-Man trilogy,
and for that we have to address the specific way in which Sam Raimi deals with the notion of evil. Most superhero films today don’t present
evil as a force of its own; instead they often construct it based on sociological, philosophical or political conflict in which evil becomes either the absence of goodness, a product of a specific environment, or an emotional response to a traumatic experience. In the Spider-Man trilogy however, we see
a different representation of evil; one that exists as a force of its own; a separate entity within the psyche that battles for dominance against our normal self. Sam Raimi makes this spiritual warfare explicit
as we see Norman and Harry struggle with the Goblin, Dr. Octavius with his mechanical arms,
and Peter with Venom. It seems to like you. The conflict that arises out of this kind
of evil relates more closely to a premodern, mythological notion of evil, summarized by
Robert Moore in 10 characteristics: Evil is a reality with an agency of its own. It disguises itself as innocent or justified. It creates false perceptions of reality. It is seductive,
and contagious. It’s present long before you realize it. It erodes your personal and social life;
Corrupts your creativity and vitality to service itself. It denies mortality and all human limitations,
and; As an active force it shows its effects on
everyone around it. What do you want? To say what you won’t, to do what you can’t,
to remove those in your way. The reason Robert Moore brings these traditional
understandings of evil to our attention is because they relate directly to contemporary
psychoanalytical studies of pathological grandiosity. Of course, there are many different schools of thought on this subject, each with their own variations, but what it comes down to, at least for the purpose of analyzing Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, is that there’s an energetic driving force within us that is separate from the normal human self or ego, and how we relate to it is an important determinant for our mental health and overall wellbeing. There is something huge, there’s something
great in you that is not I, that is not the I. Now that we have a better understanding of
the nature of grandiosity in the Spider-Man trilogy, let’s examine what exactly it entails
and how Peter has been affected by it. After Peter becomes enveloped by Venom and
embraces the power it gives him, it’s clear how his grandiosity becomes
a force of destruction, a relentless narcissism redirecting all his energies into anger, vindictiveness and cruelty, He despised you. If you do this, I will lose everything. You were an embarrassment to him. ultimately damaging all those around him. But the Venom only serves as a catalyst of
Peter’s grandiosity; It amplifies characteristics of its host. It’s a way to visualize Peter descending
into destructive narcissism, but like the insidiousness of traditional evil that takes
root long before you realize its danger, Peter’s grandiosity too is already present before
Venom enters the scene. In fact; I think we can trace it all the way
back to the first film; to the moment where Peter is given his powers; an inner dragon
that seduces him with superhuman potential, but also immediately shows its capacity for
destruction when left unregulated. Robert Moore explains how trouble arises when
we begin to identify with this great energy, which Peter essentially does by becoming Spider-Man. The bad news is when those great energies,
when they manifest in you and you don’t recognize, number one, that they’re not
you, or if you think they’re you, the kind of destructive phenomena will begin and a
lot of collateral damage will be damaging to you, but will also be damaging a lot of
those around you. In this sense; the Spider-Man persona is the embodiment of Peter’s grandiosity, and indeed; much of the film is centered around the way Peter relates himself to his powerful alter ego. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility. It is interesting that he resolves his struggle
by sacrificing his relation with Mary Jane; because although he believes he’s making
the responsible choice, it could also be argued that he’s actually giving in to his grandiosity
by identifying himself as Spider-Man. Who am I? I’m Spider-Man. Pizza time. You’re late. This seems to be the case when we jump ahead
to Spider-Man 2. Here we find Peter struggling to maintain
his personal and social life as a result of being the city’s beloved hero. Please, I need this job.
– You’re fired. Parker, hello, you’re fired. Thereby becoming an almost perfect example of Robert Moore’s definition of grandiosity; Very simply, “grandiosity” means you have larger fantasies and wishes for yourself than your real life experience can support, so they either make you manic, running around
trying to keep up with their demands, or they make you depressed because your desires are
so high and unachievable that it soon seems useless to try to do anything at all. Again, Peter ultimately ends up embracing Spider-Man, but this time, he also gets the girl, and she too embraces Peter as Spider-Man. And so when Spider-Man 3 begins, and everything
seems to be going well, things are actually taking a turn for the worse as Peter has now
completely identified himself with being Spider-Man, thereby turning his grandiosity into a pathological
issue, in which; Your ego becomes so inflated that you act
as if you thought you were God. I don’t know I guess I’ve become something
of an icon. Now we’re truly entering the realm of destructive
narcissism, as shown by the growing selfishness and lack of empathy that start eroding Peter’s
relationships; It’s over.
– No, please, please don’t say that. But this grandiosity is also revealed by a fragility towards anything that challenges this inflated sense of self. Peter faces such a moment when he discovers
the actual killer of his uncle; I have no intention of settling down, this
man killed my uncle and he’s still out there. It’s a direct attack on his self-image;
a reminder of his human limits, resulting in defensive behavior that only drives him
deeper into his grandiosity. I know that you made a mistake and that you
feel guilty but, I want to be here for you. Okay, I get it, thank you, but I’m fine,
I don’t need your help. When someone treats you like a human being
and does not worship you, to the extent that you are overidentified consciously or unconsciously
with a grandiose exhibitionistic self-organization, you will have a rage response and a “grandiose
retreat” into isolation. It is here that Venom overtakes him and we
get to know Peter at his most narcissistic. I actually admire Sam Raimi for not holding
back in showing Peter’s behavior as obnoxious and appalling; it emphasizes clearly that
we’re not dealing with a mere character flaw, or an inner anti-hero. We’re dealing with something truly ugly that does not deserve to be romanticized. This is also reflected in Peter’s actions
as he, unbeknownst to himself; lets his vengefulness and aggression become the main driving force
for conflict in the remainder of the film. This brings us back to the beginning of our
discussion. To recap our progress so far, we can break
Peter’s grandiosity down as follows; in the first film it is awakening, in Spider-Man 2 it turns chaotic, and in Spider-Man 3 it becomes destructive. Now, before we continue into a discussion
on how Spider-Man 3 resolves Peter’s struggle, I think it’s important to also address some
of the other characters in the trilogy, because Spider-Man is not the only one dealing with grandiosity. If we take another look at the villains of
Spider-Man 1 and 2 for example; we see a similar pattern leading towards destructiveness. Both Norman Osborn and Dr. Octavius start
out as a men with high ambitions and noble intentions; You will witness the birth of a new fusion-based energy source. Safe, renewable energy, and cheap electricity for everyone. And both of them identify themselves with
these visions of greatness to such an extent that when they are confronted with the reality
of their situation; they are left vulnerable to the seductive power of their inner dragon that ends up destroying them. But more interesting is the case of Mary Jane, which shows a more nuanced and perhaps more relatable side of the presence of grandiosity. In Spider-Man 1 we meet her as the popular girl struggling with a low self-esteem as the result of her abusive father; You’re trash, you’re always gonna be trash, just like her.
– I have to go to school. a feeling of worthlessness that keeps haunting her in her subsequent relationships and professional life; I look at these words, and it’s like my father wrote them. It is therefore understandable that she too
begins to fantasize of being more, of being valued and cared for. A dream that she projects on her savior Spider-Man. He saved my life twice and I have never even seen his face. – Oh, him. This becomes especially interesting in Spider-Man
2; where Mary Jane is engaged to a man who seems like a perfect gentleman, and yet, she
still holds on to the fantasy of being with Spider-Man; or more precisely; to the fantasy
of having a fairytale romance. What about that perfect kiss you said you
had once? The guy you believed in? That was a fantasy. that’s all he is. She attempts to deny and repress her dream,
but as Robert Moore points out; this only reveals the presence of her grandiosity; I hate to disturb anyone’s good day, but a really humble person may be having more trouble with grandiosity than someone who thinks they’re pretty hot stuff. If you get depressed a lot because you think
you are worthless, struggle it indicates a mighty with this little god within. As with Peter’s struggle in Spider-Man 2;
Mary Jane’s grandiosity also turns her life into one of chaos and confusion; making her
unable to make sense of her personal relationships; should she hold on to the idea of perfect
romance? Or make the responsible choice and marry John? Or is this too a part of her grandiosity? An illusion of love to mask her insecurity? Perhaps it is the boy next door who really
is her true love? In the end, she also gets to have it both
ways; it turns out her best friend is actually the superhero she’s been dreaming of and
now gets to live the fantasy she always wanted. Go get ‘m tiger. Except, that’s not really what happens. As we come to learn in Spider-Man 3, being
in a relationship with Spider-Man really means being in a relationship with a grandiose Peter
whose growing narcissism makes it increasingly difficult for Mary Jane to connect to him
on a human level. You just gotta believe in yourself and you pull yourself together, you get right back on that horse Don’t give me the horse thing.
Try and understand how I feel. And so the fairytale romance with her hero,
turns out to be not so romantic after all. ‘Go get ‘m tiger?’ The main point of all this is to show that
everyone struggles with grandiosity; everyone has to deal with their inner dragon that wants
more for itself, that wants to live out grandiose fantasies. It’s especially easy to surrender ourselves
when we are feeling weak and vulnerable, and this great energy promises us power and salvation. Even when grandiosity seems completely absent, as Spider-Man 3 briefly explores when Harry is dealing with memory loss; It’s a weird feeling not knowing who you are. Bump on the head and I’m free as a bird. The dragon eventually resurfaces, confirming
once more there’s no escaping or repressing it. This is also why I prefer to approach the
Spider-Man trilogy from a psychoanalytical point of view rather than a psychological
one which frames narcissism as a personality disorder, and not necessarily as something
that is present inside all of us and part of our developmental process. Now for the big question; how does Peter come
to terms with his grandiosity? Because even though we’ve seen him struggle
with his Spider-Man persona, is this not also what gives him the power to do good? Is it not also the source of his greatness? Is this inner dragon not the same powerful
energy that makes us courageous? That pushes us to be better,
to become more than we are? Are we not allowed to dream? To strive for what we want? Am I not supposed to have what I want? What I need? Robert Moore indeed acknowledges that this
is what also drives our inspiration, our vision and our creativity, and that when we face
these energies consciously, they reflect in us the illuminating power of what he believes to be a divine presence. I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble. But how do we get there? The first thing we must acknowledge it that this is not an issue to be resolved, this is a lifelong project; Remember, there is no such thing as a person who has completely transformed his or her own narcissism. There are only people who acknowledge their
grandiose energies and try to learn how to relate to them consciously and regulate and
optimize their contacts with them intelligently. It all comes down to what we chose to identify with. If we identify ourselves with our grandiosity,
things will end badly. We see this in the journey of Eddie Brock,
which mirrors that of Peter. He too has great ambitions which lead him
down a path of self-destruction; he loses his job, loses his girl, and at his most desperate
moment; surrenders himself to his grandiosity
and becomes Venom. But Eddie never faces his dragon; never relates
to it from a healthy distance, and ends up becoming consumed by it. At the height of his narcissism, completely
identified with Venom Spider-Man, we see Peter heading down a similar path. But when he lashes out at Mary Jane, he realizes
he has lost his true self. Who are you? I don’t know He sheds his Venom, which appears to be the end of it. But like we established before; the Venom
merely served as a catalyst of his grandiosity, it was not the main source of it. So what really happened? First; he disidentifies himself from the energy
that has been fueling his destructive narcissism and recognizes his limits as a human being; You said; a husband’s gotta put his wife before himself. I’m not ready. Secondly; after Mary Jane gets kidnapped in the final act of the film, he realizes he can’t save her alone and turns to Harry, who has been struggling with his own dragon,
but is also the one person who could help him. I need your help, I can’t take them both. Not by myself. In short; he learns true humility, and that
is exactly what the grandiose self hates; There is such a thing as humility, however,
and we must learn the true humility that consists of two things: (a) knowing your limitations
and (b) getting the help you need. That is all humility is. It has nothing to do with any ascetic personal
style or with being self-effacing. It is simply knowing your limitations. When Harry eventually comes to Peter’s aid,
and even sacrifices his life to save him; we find another revelation: our grandiosity
is not our normal self. It may live inside us and take us over,
but it never fully becomes us. Whatever comes our way, whatever battle we
have raging inside us, we always have a choice. By becoming aware of his grandiosity and choosing
to relate to it in a more healthy and conscious way, Peter not only helps himself, but becomes more understanding and empathic to others as well; I’ve done terrible things too. I forgive you. But ultimately; Robert Moore argues that;
The greatest antidote to pathological narcissism is a relationship with a real person. And this is what Peter too seems to realize
as the film comes to its conclusion; this time not with an impressive display of Spider-Man triumphantly swinging between the skyscrapers of New York, or with a spectacular chase after a fairytale romance, but with Peter Parker and Mary Jane, two human beings who, after being hurt and having suffered, are ready to give each other another chance. There’s one more issue left to discuss;
and that is the meaning of all this to the audience. Like many of you, I was still a kid when the
Spider-Man films came out, and as I’m sure many of you secretly did as well; I too dreamed about being a great hero and saving damsels in distress, mostly portrayed by whatever girl I happened to have a crush on at the time. So what message does a film like Spider-Man 3 have for us by showing us this dark side of our beloved hero? Of our beloved fantasy? There have been other superhero films that
showed their heroes as flawed, but they rarely truly make us question the fantasy; never
really deal with our grandiosity in this matter. Maybe it’s even part of the reason why Spider-Man
3 is generally disliked; maybe we just don’t want to deal with this part of ourselves, this potential for ugliness, maybe we rather remain unaware, comforted by fantasies ensuring us we’re the hero, we’re the good guys. In this sense; Sam Raimi made a bold move
to show that even our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man struggles with grandiosity; is
vulnerable to its destructive potential. But maybe Spider-Man, being arguably one of
most relatable superheroes, is exactly the one who needs to teach us about
facing this dragon and relating to it in a healthy, mature way. Because growing up also means learning how
to let go of grandiose fantasies, because the truth is we’re not meant to be superheroes,
we’re meant to be human, and to not only acknowledge that,
but also to choose to act accordingly, that is being heroic, that is taking responsibility. And I think that’s where we find
the hidden beauty of Spider-Man 3; it’s not about indulging us in the fantasy,
it’s about fixing broken relations. I never should have hurt you… said those
things. It’s about showing us how to be our best self,
to be strong and responsible, to be kind and forgiving,
to not be prideful and selfish. It’s about teaching us what it truly means
to be a hero.

Randy Schultz

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42 thoughts on “The Unexplored Depths of Spider-Man 3 – Facing the Dragon of Grandiosity

  1. Like Stories of Old says:

    I would never have guessed this would be my longest video yet; what started out as a pretty simple character study slowly became an extensive evaluation of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Coming out just before Marvel and DC locked course into their respective universes, it’s just such a fascinating and unique set of superhero films. And yes, after having rewatched them all back to back in one day, I can still say they’re among my favorites.

  2. Max Henn says:

    no its just a shit movie

  3. Vini Sampaio says:

    Sam Raime's Spiderman deserves more love

  4. Enrique VIII says:

    An outstanding analysis, It really cuts close to the bone personally. Thanks, really…

  5. Exetical says:

    Song names?

  6. Mateus Balotin says:

    Fuck man, one day I really wanna met your personally and talk to you. It fells like you talk the talk and walk the walk.
    Thanks for the video!

  7. dat Rasta says:

    Love your videos dawg, dope to see you point out things in movies I’ve notice overtime since i was a kid and it means even more to me now with the things i know. Your pretty woke 🙂

  8. Seeker Oz says:

    wow man… thank you so much for this incredible video. it helped me understand so much…

  9. werewolf435 says:

    God you make me think Spiderman 3 might actually have been a good movie and that I might need to take a second watching….. What kind of monster are you?!

  10. Cortney S. Young says:

    Fantastic analysis. Thank you for some revelation!

  11. Clarence Dankerlui says:

    Man the movie analyses of this channel are always so deep and mindblowing! You and Jordan Peterson truly understand the human psyche and behaviour. You should work together sometimes. 👏👏👏

  12. Em Nonymous says:

    Great job.

  13. Andy Ling says:

    I swear youtube just took a comment i sent, digested it and fed me this to watch. Thumbs up. The potential singularity of ai can harmonize the chaos of humanity.

  14. Jasurbek Ergashov says:

    Damn! The best thing I watched today.

  15. Лео Молина Лопез says:

    This theme appears also in Joker.

  16. Mothman Prophet says:

    Thank you for this. I wrote off Spider-Man 3 as a victim of the sequel problem "bigger, louder, more of everything". This video made me realize that there was probably something much deeper going on in this film than what I thought.

  17. Carlos Castanheiro says:

    Thank you, but I'm a super hero…Just kidding. Lol

  18. elijah caballero says:

    Can you examine Excalibur, 1981.

  19. Averon God of fire says:

    Another thing is to learn to change yourself and to mature I’m always afraid of loosing my ego and pride because those are all I’ve had to move on in life but now I’m afraid of leaving some of that behind I’m afraid of taking a piece out of my self and than I’ll fall apart and loose myself yet I’m also afraid of not gaining more through this maturity and how I may better myself or add to my life and I’m still battling with this idea of maturity and preservation

  20. Andrès Lohlé says:

    I love your videos man…

  21. R Melo says:

    Muito bom!

  22. Joel Prentiss says:

    I grew up loving Spiderman. I even have a tattoo of him on my leg. This video has changed how I see my childhood hero into a much deeper and more meaningful level. Thank you.

  23. Linas Marcinkevičius says:

    GOD Bless you! Thank you for the video!

  24. fightsports66 says:

    I still hate Spider Man 3 but this video, like your others, is astonishing.

  25. Exetical says:

    What songs plays in the Chapter 3?

  26. No Labels says:

    Giving up the girl is what Joseph Campbell taught us! The women are dangerous to
    The hero’s journey. And everyone knows the hero is more important than the womenfolk!

  27. Howard Dixon says:

    This is brilliant. Wow

  28. Josh Morris says:

    Damn, dude. You're, like, some kind of preacher. Really good stuff. I'll never look at Spider-Man 3 the same way.

  29. LOTI9 IM says:

    Simply an amazing video.

  30. 별빛달빛 says:

    A hero does not see himself as a hero.
    A star, not blinded by it's own radiance shall light up the night.

  31. Hector Martinon says:

    I didn’t expect to tear up. Thank you for this analysis.

  32. Dig Dug says:


    Thank you….

  33. sparhopper says:

    At 2:50 is not only a list of Evil's characteristics, but of H.

  34. SaltyJedi says:

    This man just made Spiderman 3 look good.

  35. Brandon Zetina says:

    Great video!

  36. Fernando Bedoya says:

    Came for pizza time

    Stayed for the grandiosity of this analysis

  37. A common man says:

    To the creator of this video…
    May GOD bless you 😇.

  38. A common man says:

    You showed us all… the hidden beauty and morals in spider-man 3.

  39. James Freeman says:

    When I first watched these films I thought it was comical and goofy I didn't know it was that deep of a film so props to the director.

  40. Kyle Baggett says:

    another beautiful video by this guy. every hero must face themselves. spider man 3 is so applicable to each and every one of our lives as we all battle with these things and they will drive you down some crazy roads especially if you are a damaged person. getting lost like that is not a pleasant experience but if you become reconciled it's worth every second of pain you had to endure to get there.

  41. Daniel Cavanagh says:

    Not only a great video about humility, but inspiring and entertaining too. Please keep making videos

  42. Luca Barton says:

    Spiderman 3 FTW!!!

  43. Человек-паук. Размышления о кино says:

    Thank you

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