Peter interrupts Doctor Strange’s spell so many times that it goes wrong, drawing in every person across the multiverse who knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. This adds an extra layer to the movie’s theme of second chances, as not only is the film about Peter’s desire for a second chance at a normal life, but actors from previous iterations of the Spider-Man franchise get a second chance to reprise their roles. Alfred Molina, Willem Defoe, and Jamie Foxx return as their villainous characters. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield get second chances to play their version of Spider-Man. Thus, the theme of second chances applies not only to Peter, but also to different actors and, ultimately, the fans.
A second chance is different for each of the film’s characters, though. For Peter, it is an opportunity to regain a normal lifestyle, and to help his friends get into college. The villains get a second chance at life itself, as Doctor Strange’s spell brings them into Peter’s world moments before they were to die in theirs. This also gives them a new opportunity to fulfill their plans, whether it is to seek vengeance or power. Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man is haunted by the grief of not being able to save the love of his life, so he seeks a chance at redemption in this foreign universe.
We All Need to Be “Fixed”
What about you? Is there an event in your life you wish you could do over? Is there a missed opportunity you would take or a painful life event you would prevent? Maybe you believe that second chances are unnecessary or even impossible. Or maybe you believe that your life is fine the way it is, even if you’ve suffered failures and challenges they have formed you into the person you are, so you wouldn’t change a thing.
Regardless of what you think about second chances, the truth is that we all need one. In No Way Home, Peter decides he cannot simply return the villains to their worlds and leave them to their fate. He seeks to rehabilitate them, even though the villains reject the idea that they need to be “fixed.” Many of us feel the same way. We aren’t villains. We aren’t insane or evil. We’re fine just the way we are. But if we stop and are completely honest with ourselves, we will become aware of our faults and flaws. We’ll begin to see the wrong things that we’ve done—the times that we have lied, cheated, or hurt others. We’ll recognize the pain and broken relationships we wish we could heal. And we might also see the missed potential that we’ve allowed fear or doubt to suppress.
The Bible also tells us that we are each spiritually broken and need to be “fixed.” Humans were created as God’s image-bearers, and we are called to steward and to care for his creation. We were designed for healthy relationships with God and with each other, but our sin has broken that. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jeremiah 17:9 tells us our hearts are “deceitful” and “desperately sick.” The worst part, however, is that we cannot heal ourselves. This does not mean there is no hope. Jesus tells us the cure for our brokenness: we must be born again (John 3:3). Jesus does not simply point us to the cure—Jesus is the cure. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). He is the Resurrection, the Way to be brought back from spiritual death to life (John 11:25), a life filled with joy (John 15:11).
A second chance may not guarantee that life will be without its struggles, though. The villains all get “fixed,” but we do not learn their fates once they return to their worlds. Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man gains the personal redemption he needs by saving this world’s M.J., but this act does not bring back his love, Gwen. The world does not just forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, they forget who Peter Parker is completely. He is a stranger to his friends. His Aunt May is dead. At the end of the film, Peter is totally alone.
Even if we can work through our internal problems, it does not always change our circumstances, and it certainly does not change our past. We still have to face the consequences of bad decisions. We may carry pain and scars from negative experiences the rest of our lives, similar to how Jesus still bore the holes in his hands and side and after his resurrection (John 20:27). It may be difficult, but God will give us the strength to persevere through our suffering, and the grace to lessen our pain over time.
Likewise, being born again will heal our deepest wound, our broken relationship with God, even though we will still face great hardships in this life (John 16:33). In fact, following Christ may cause even more problems or suffering (John 15:20, 2 Tim. 3:12). But Jesus is our ultimate Hope. No matter how difficult our lives are now, we are promised an eternity with Christ where there is no more pain or suffering (Rev. 21:4). All of the brokenness of this world will be healed for good.
Like many other superhero films, Spider-Man: No Way Home uses outlandish characters and events to tell stories about basic human experience. Like Peter Parker, we have events in our lives we wish we could do over. We all have faults and flaws that need to be fixed. And ultimately, we all need a second chance. Jesus Christ is greater than any superhero. He came to save us from our biggest problem: our sin. Just as the characters learn in No Way Home, a second chance does not mean a perfect life or an escape from all pain and hardship. It is a new beginning. And the ultimate second chance will come as God remakes this world into a new Heaven and Earth, where there will be no sorrow or pain ever again.
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