Film Theory: The Spiderman 2 Mystery! Why Spiderman Lost His Powers!

  • Published on: 2019-01-10
  • Old-timey super hero theme music "Does whatever a theorist can" "Spots details, with his eyes" "He's got stories to theorize" "Look out!" "Uses words, doesn't fight" "He has memorized Mario's height" "In the theories (???)" "(???) the character's dead" "Look out!" "Here come the Theory- MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN! *Old-timey episode intro music* Mat: HELLO INTERNET, Welcome to Film Theory, where today can we just stop to appreciate What a great year 2018 was? Oh, no not for me. For SPIDERMAN! His PS4 game crushed! And was nearly Game Of The Year! Venom was way more enjoyable than most people expected and earned nearly a BILLION dollars, and Into the Spider-Verse was literally the best animated movie that I have seen in YEARS! I mean sure, he got dusted out of existence and all that, So that was a bit of a low point, but STILL, pretty solid year on the whole, and sure we may have lost one Spidey, Press F to pay respects,{ F} but heck Spider-Verse gave us another 6 to root for. They're multiplying like flies or spiders.. I guess. You know what else it gave us though? An incredible tribute to the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy The one that redefined what superhero movies were in their darkest days The trilogy responsible for the superhero Renaissance. The movies that did the Thanos snap 17 years before it became a spicy meme. Sure, those references at the beginning of Into the Spider-Verse were just that: references to those past movies. This Peter Parker is not the same one as the one from those older movies, but it did get me eager to go back and revisit that original trilogy. For those of you who haven't seen these classics in some time, you know the basic premise: bobblehead Tobey Maguire gets himself bitten by a genetically altered spider, "Great power great responsibility" blah blah blah your standard Spider-Man, but upon re-watching them there was one mystery that was never explained in movies. One that has remained unsolved for the last 17 years and a mystery that today I think I can finally answer. You see in Spider-Man 2, largely considered to be one of the best superhero movies of all time, Peter Parker loses his powers They just stop working. No explanation, no nothing. Just pooping out at the times that he needs them the most. Peter: Why is this happening to me? MatPat: Good question Peter. That's what I intend to answer today. Taking this as a sign, Peter briefly gives up the mask to focus on his personal life. Later, when the threat of the super-powerful Doc Ock emerges, Spidey's dragged back onto the scene and wouldn't you know it, his powers just conveniently come back the moment that he needs them. And of course all this is probably just for plot convenience But you know how I roll. If there's an explanation that goes beyond "well, it was important to the theme of the movie" that I'm gonna find it and I think I have. I believe that there is a legitimate, scientific explanation for this seemingly random plot thread in Spider-Man 2. One that not only fills the narrative gap AND gives us greater insight into the movie's themes, but also gives us a bit more information on the nature of Peter's spider abilities So to truly understand what's happening We have to first rewind to Spider-Man 1. So in the first movie, running parallel to Peter's spider-puberty, is the story of Norman Osborn His best friend's father, who does some sciencing on himself to gain laboratory induced superpowers with just a dollop of madness *Osborn laughing* As the newly-born Green Goblin, Norman does all the usual villain stuff: menace New York, turn people into spooky scary skeletons, dress as an old woman, and star in terrible Broadway musicals. Oh man the stories I could tell you about that show And yes that character with the inflatable t-rex coming out of his chest is the lizard. "Give that man a Tony" anyway The film comes to a dramatic climax when Norman drops both the tramcar and Mary Jane off the Roosevelt Island Bridge. Spidey manages to save them both - get DUNKED on Andrew Garfield! *thud* but in the course of the final battle, ends up killing Norman Norman: "Godspeed, Spider-Man" *Osborn in pain* Unsurprisingly this takes a mental toll on Peter. After Norman's funeral, he rejects the advances of Mary Jane: Peter: "All I wanted was to tell her how much I loved her" "I can't" And listens to his best friend Harry swear vengeance upon Spider-Man: Harry: "I swear on my father's grave, Spider-Man will pay" It's shortly after that that we see Peter's powers start to fail So looking at the events of the first movie and how they impact Peter in the second It's my theory that Peter's power loss is directly tied to him suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD Let's look at the facts. The anxiety and depression Association of America, or ADAA for short, lays out four categories of diagnostic criteria for PTSD and Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2 qualifies in each and every one. The first set of criteria relate to the trauma itself. To pass diagnosis in this category a patient needs to have gone through one of the following: either directly experiencing a traumatic event themselves, witnessing, in person, a traumatic event, or learning about traumatic events occurring to a close family member Peter doesn't just hit one of these; he hits all three. In the first movie, Peter, in a matter of months experiences two indescribably traumatic events, both of which involve the death of father figures. First Uncle Ben and then Norman Osborn, a man who claims: Norman: "I've been like a father to you" and not only to both men die, and not only does he witness both of those deaths, but they are both dead BECAUSE of the action or inaction of Peter. He doesn't stop the robber, which directly leads to Sandman shooting Uncle Ben and after some brutal psychological warfare from Norman: Norman: "The Goblin killed. I have nothing to do with it. Don't-don't let him take me again!" "I beg you, protect me" Spider-Man jumping over the glider finishes off his other other father. And all of this is without even mentioning his childhood love getting kidnapped because of her association with Peter. It's pretty much unquestionable that Peter has every reason to be suffering some level of PTSD But is he really? Well, to know for sure we have to move on to the second category of criteria which looks at any lingering psychological effects of the trauma and whether memories of it are intruding into everyday life. Of the following, patients must be experiencing at least one to be diagnosed as suffering from PTSD. That list includes: unwanted memories of the event interrupting the day, having dreams related to the trauma, psychological distress when exposed to cues that remind you of the event, or physiological reactions to those same cues. Throughout Spider-Man 2 we see memories of Uncle Ben intruding into Peters everyday life. Ben's oft-repeated mantra "with great power comes great responsibility" drives Peter until he ultimately tells his uncle: Peter: "I can't live your dreams anymore" We also know that Peter is having difficulty sleeping He's suffering from repeated dreams of these traumatic events as he reports to his doctor you say you can't sleep and as dr Conner says whoa is a parings Austin in short Peter checks off each and every one of these qualifiers and remember only one is necessary for a diagnosis of PTSD the third criteria required for an official diagnosis looks at the traumas effects on a patient's emotional life and self-identity of the Massive list that you see on screen right now Only two are required to move into the final stages of diagnosis But Peter checks off a solid six eighth sinister six if you will if by sinister six were replacing team Man sure with persistent feelings of detachment. Well the first two negative beliefs about the world and blaming yourself for the trauma arc Disorder. Okay, absolutely hundred percent true in Peters case There's no doubt that he's isolating himself from the rest of the world as both MJ and Harry complain about how hard it's been to see Peters where he been powered our internal comms He's self sabotaging at his job. We're looking for you all morning Wanted to put your phone bill struggling to pursue the activities in life that he wants to enjoy Or were you headed Parker to your class? My class is over And slowly eroding the most important relationship in his life. Do you love me? Missing Mary Jane's performances in her new play and when he sees her pulling away into the arms of other people would you know it but that's when his powers truly start to falter the powers appear to be tied to Peter's mental health but to know for sure we have to move on to the final diagnostic category changes in arousal That sort of arousal the way you react to stimuli in the world around you and once again in this final category Pete checks Practically every item off the list problems with concentration Problems with sleep easy to startle unlike the first film spider-man becomes far more hyper vigilant in the second movie staying up all night Listening to the police radio. Just hoping for something to come up But where this theory really shines is in explaining why Peters powers come back in the movie They just sort of reappear Mary. Jane gets kidnapped. Boom. They're back It is never addressed but it can't just be Peter reacting heroically in the moment He's already done that with a child trapped in a burning building earlier in the movie and his powers didn't come back then No, there's something deeper here something more psychological it plays You see? Well, it's not perfect and certainly not clinical heater does manage to give himself some rudimentary? PTSD therapy in the movie after some advice from a very chill doctor most of a choice Peter gives up his costume and starts focusing On his normal life again. He gets his job under control He's back to his studies full force Jiri engages with his friends again seeing Mary James play reconnecting with Aunt May Even reaching out to his neighbor in a beep lot romance that you think is going somewhere but then gets totally forgotten about despite her Being totally available totally into Peter and totally making mean chocolate cake Hashtag justice for a neighbor girl this behavior on the part of Peter Parker correlates to the type of work that you'd be doing in IPT or interpersonal psychotherapy which specifically has the patient resolving lingering issues with people around them in order to get more control over their life in order to attain a Support network and ultimately come to handle their past trauma through these interactions in the movie Peter is forced to confront some major questions about his relationship with Uncle Ben and his behaviors as spider-man which in turn helps him come to terms with both Ben and Norman's deaths mix all of that in with a healthy amount of outdoor exercise and an overall healthier lifestyle both of which are regular recommendations for anyone struggling with a mental health Disorder and Peter has really done some heroic work only this time not for the city of New York, but for himself Finally after all these years why Peters powers disappear makes sense He's dealing with the impact of emotional trauma Trauma that he never had the chance to properly address and deal with in his life when he was having to double a spider-man The powers only return when he's able to step back give himself the self care that he needs and help himself Before he reaches out to continue helping others the saddest thing about this is that it's never explicitly addressed in the film that spider-man in addition to serving as a role model of physical strength could have also been shown as a role model of Psychological strength of living with and handling not just goblins and demons out the real world But the even more dangerous and seemingly unstoppable ones that lived inside his own And at the end of the day this theory just goes to show that everyone including superheroes have their own issues and that battling against depression or the effects of trauma not be as Visually exciting as a battle against tentacle doctor over here But it's a battle. That is far more real far more scary and far more important than any of the ones that you see happen in spider-man 2 and that sometimes the most maroa k-- action you can do is Taking the time to rescue yourself before you try rescuing someone else and with app There are no more mysteries left in the Sam Raimi trilogy well Except for how a woman born in Brooklyn has a British Accent its water over the dam or under the bridge or wherever you like it I'm on to you and me but hey, that's just a theory Oh film theory and cut
  • Runtime: 12:26
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  • Mr. Romaro

    The real question in the movie is can you make and deliver 8 extra large deep dish pizzas across 42 blocks in New York in 29 minutes

  • Oliver Coulter

    Didn't Stan Lee die in 2018? The guy who made spiderman. I don't think it was THAT good of a year for Peter.

  • TheAura Murderer

    Somebody make an exrended version of the Theory Man theme and send me the link

  • DarX Nightcore

    I though it was due to mental issues/ emotions as soon as i got the “clues” at the start

  • - PnThrZ -


  • Alfa Maj

    He should really have used that random woman with the violin on the street in spider Man 2 to the intro

  • Amalie Gaarder


  • Nick Butler

    Aftef watching this...i think i need to go to the doctors

  • Carolina Marchese

    I watched this movie when it came out (I was 9 yrs old) and I knew that the reason behind his power loss was stress... 🤷🏼‍♀️

  • DrStarfucker

    okay for the first time the intro was unbearable, loved the video, but the intro was annoying