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Alissa at the apex: choice is a superpower

Maybe you don’t have to have superpowers to understand the power of choice.
Campus+Editor+Alissa+Van+Dress+reflects+on+the+poignant+messages+of+the+first+Spider-Man+trilogy.
Marvel Comics
Campus Editor Alissa Van Dress reflects on the poignant messages of the first “Spider-Man” trilogy.

Thanksgiving Break is not so much a break as it is a week to catch up on or get ahead of homework. As I am sure this happened to most of us, our stomachs engorged with a delightful, home-cooked Thanksgiving meal. While it was tempting to leave the piles of schoolwork to sit untouched, I successfully had a productive Thanksgiving Break. Never did I imagine that I could go a full day finishing novels or typing away at papers, but my days consisted of homework grinding over break.

To prevent myself from burnout, I took breaks in between my studying and set boundaries. I tried to end my studying around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. so that I could decompress with a movie. Upon scrolling on Netflix, Toby Maguire found his way on my TV screen, slinging webs and solving quantum equations as Peter Parker, otherwise known as Spider-Man. After watching the trilogy, I knew what I wanted my column to focus on—and no, it’s not Bully Maguire.

To remind myself of the column’s topic, written on my palm for a couple days were the words “the power of choice.” All three movies feature Peter Parker faced with difficult choices about his future. The first movie follows Parker as a grieving nephew where he must decide if he uses his powers for selfish reasons or to save New York City. As Uncle Ben professes a quintessential line that drives Peter’s purpose as a superhero, I started perceiving the quote differently than before.

The second movie shows Parker in a similar situation, but this time it’s to decide if he must sacrifice his life as Peter Parker to continue to be Spider-Man. He discovers that, with balance, he can have both—he is both. The movie’s conflicted antagonist, Dr. Otto Octavius, drops one of the most striking lines: “intelligence is not a privilege, it’s a gift. And you can use it for the good of mankind.” This is yet another line that inspired me to persevere as a college student.

Onto “Spider-Man 3,” the theme of choice is solidified. In the final installment of the trilogy, Peter Parker’s ego flares due to fame. With the help of an alien specimen, Parker turns rogue. Eventually, he forgives not only himself for succumbing to villainy, but his enemies as he realizes that everyone has a choice to turn good; even the criminal who hurt his own family is worthy of forgiveness.

While I expected to watch these movies for pure entertainment, I finished the trilogy with a refreshed perspective. As I watched Peter battle using his power for good, a lesson was delivered: power is nothing worthy of celebration unless it’s used for good. Power is only a gift when it is used for good. Otherwise, it is a curse that wreaks havoc.

As Uncle Ben says it best, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Choosing good is the real superpower and a testing choice to make in certain situations.

With finals just around the corner, each assignment can feel like weights. Nonetheless, I will listen to Uncle Ben and choose good despite the harrowing season of finals.

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About the Contributor
Alissa Van Dress, Campus Editor
Alissa Van Dress is a junior English major from Amherst, Ohio. She has a concentration in professional writing with minors in business, creative writing and Spanish and Hispanic Studies. Previously, Alissa served as the copy editor at The Carroll News. In addition to her current role as campus editor, Alissa is a JCU football and basketball cheerleader, a writing consultant at the JCU Writing Center, works as a digital engagement ambassador for the JCU Carroll Fund, and serves on the visual arts committee for The Carroll Review. Also, she is honored to have co-founded the Theatre Club at John Carroll University. Other than writing, some of Alissa's favorite hobbies include musical theater, vocal performance, fashion, dance and cheerleading/acrobatics. After graduation, Alissa plans to write for children's entertainment.

To contact Alissa, email her at [email protected].

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