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The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 179: ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’

The Arkham Sessions, hosted by Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward, is a weekly podcast dedicated to the psychological analysis of pop culture, including Batman: The Animated Series, Steven Universe, the MCU, and Doom Patrol. Nostalgic, humorous, and even a little educational, each episode promises to lend some insight into the heroes, villains, and classic stories of the Dark Knight and more!

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 179 – Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man Homecoming (2017) centers on a coming-of-age Peter Parker, a fairly normal high school student who is beginning to navigate his new role as a superhero. (That part’s not so normal.) Parker not only glamorizes the “Avenger lifestyle” but yearns to take the life-altering leap into the Spider-Man suit, full time. Distracted by fantasies of what his world could be alongside Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, et al., Peter overlooks the daily freedoms and fun of his youth.

Homecoming is a celebration of youthhood, an invitation to find gratitude for our younger days, and to remember what it was like before things got …complicated. The film articulates the tension between childhood and adulthood, the push and pull, the strain we feel when we want to grow up fast. Peter’s youthful and carefree spirit is, in many ways, representing what many of the Avengers did not have. As a youth, Peter Parker is already so many things. Bright, witty, sharp, humble, and caring, he has it all. He also has one ability called interoception. He is easily able to tune into his internal sensations. This in-the-moment ability — noticing bodily experiences, reactions and emotions in real-time — allows him to synthesize information and execute swift and effective actions. In fact, his “spidey sense” is the superhero version of interoception.

It’s Parker’s spidey sense that leads to his struggles with emotional maturity; he knows deep down that he’s not quite ready to step into adulthood. Dr. Drea points out that some early life experiences do accelerate a teenager’s psychosocial growth and maturity, including ones that offer autonomy, self-sufficiency, increased responsibilities, and worldly exposure. Entering the workforce (e.g., recruitment into the Avengers) almost always kickstarts the transition into adulthood.

Tony Stark (Iron Man) plays a pivotal role in Homecoming. He is exploring his own sense of maturity, toying with a novel gadget, the ingenuity of parenthood. He gives Peter the resources, technology, advice–and warnings–a loving parent would offer, feeling himself proud of his ability to set boundaries and build the healthy guardrails he did not have as the son of brilliant inventor Howard Stark. But how much of this “recruitment” resembles a repairing of Tony’s own brokenness, and what are the costs to Peter?



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