Hollywood films appeal to a wide variety of audiences because they make a direct appeal to our emotions. We like to see movies because they make us feel something. Most of the time, the feeling that we’re looking for is a feeling of excitement like being thrilled. A lot of movies are focused on action and adventure because they can give us this sense of thrill. We like to think like we are in the place of the superhero and we can help fight the bad guys in the world. Even though we only usually think of the thrill part of why we like to go to the movies, there are other ways they can make us feel. This helps us to understand more about our own human nature and explore some of our own feelings. Some of the most joyous moments in life are when we make a breakthrough, discover something and wonderful about ourselves, or break through old barriers. One of those moments of joyous discovery is shown in the car theft scene in the film Spiderman.
Although the scene can be passed off as being not very meaningful to the overall story, it is actually a highly significant moment for the hero. Peter Parker has already been bitten by the spider that gives him his special powers. He’s also learned enough about himself to know things such as his super-agility and his ability to climb walls. He’s created a costume for himself and he’s decided to put his superpowers to work in the name of justice. Through all of this, he knows he cannot tell anyone who he is, which is frustrating when he is finding out so many exciting things about himself. When this scene takes place, Peter is trying out his new web development as he stops a car thief from committing his crime. After exploring how well his new invention works in detaining the criminal, Spiderman makes his escape from the police in a way that allows him to discover a new, more exciting way to travel.
The scene starts with the valet driver backing the car into its space and the car thief breaking into the car as soon as the valet runs away. Spiderman is sitting in the back seat and stops the thief from breaking into the steering column. The thief tries to get out a few times by opening the door, but Spiderman uses his web to yank it shut again. The car thief crawls out the window and Spiderman meets him outside. The car thief pulls a knife on Spiderman and Spiderman uses his web to pin the knife, and the car thief’s hand holding the knife, to the wall behind them. When that works so well, Spiderman plays with it, pinning the guy’s other hand to the wall, pinning his crotch to the wall, then playing like a gun fighter and shooting from the hip and over his shoulder. The criminal gets upset with him and Spiderman can’t help but tell him about his new invention since he hasn’t been able to confide in anyone else yet about his own skills. But the criminal interrupts him so he can’t continue to enjoy his invention. Spiderman sends a web to close off the man’s nose and mouth, but he doesn’t go back into how clever he was about inventing his web. He does remove enough of the web to let the guy breath, but he lets the guy sweat it for a minute first. His inability to resist playing with it and his need to tell the criminal about how he just invented it both demonstrate the excitement of invention.
However, Spiderman has more to discover still and that joy goes even beyond his thrill at having invented a successful web. This occurs when the police show up at the site and pull a gun on Spiderman instead of on the criminal. Spiderman starts to fight with the police man for a moment, offended that the police man would pull a gun on him when he’d just been doing the police man’s job, but then a lot more polite show up and Spiderman needs to get away. He plans to use his usual skills by running and jumping into the back of a pickup truck and then climbing up and over it onto a bigger semi-truck, but the police are close behind him. He uses his web to grab onto a nearby light post and swings off the truck and around to under the bridge. He crashes into the front of a bus and then bounces along the sides as he stays connected to his web. He falls in front of a taxicab and needs to get out of the way of traffic quickly so he uses his web again to swing up onto the bridge. As he swings, he realizes he can use the regularly spaced bridge supports to keep him up in the air. In sudden joy and exhilaration, Spiderman has just basically learned how to fly.
The moment of joyous discovery is one that is only experienced a few times in life, but in this one short scene, the film is able to show not just the joy of invention but also the joy of discovery of a new skill. Spiderman has found out that his new invention really works and works as well as he might have hoped. Then he discovers that it also gives him an entirely new ability, the ability to fly. These two moments of discovery and joy excite us in a completely different way than the action itself and inspires us to explore our own ideas and limits to see what we can really do when we put our minds to it.