Most of us are familiar with movie metaphors. We all know that the Narnia movies are full of Christian allegories, that Alien is bursting with rape symbolism, and so on.
But it's easy to forget that almost every movie has some kind of subtext. Writers love that shit, so they work it in wherever they can -- even if they're writing about a cyborg that punches people.
As a result, these half-coded messages turn up in movies you'd never expect.
6Spider-Man: Peter Parker's Man Juice
What You Think You're Watching
Another superhero movie. This time, it's about a shy teenager named Peter Parker who discovers that a genetically engineered spider bite has given him superpowers.
We have jokingly alluded to this before, but Spider-Man really is all about semen. Or puberty. Whatever.
We tend to find Spider-Man easier to identify with than other superheroes. He's not an alien, like Superman, or the son of a major Norse god, like Thor, or a Canadian, like Wolverine. But that's not all we have in common with Peter Parker: His superhero birth-trauma story is one with which we're all painfully familiar -- puberty.
Those were dark years.
At the beginning of the 2002 Spider-Man movie, Peter Parker is timid, puny and closer to his aunt and uncle than to girls his age. That is until one day, when Peter is taking a picture of a pretty classmate, Mary Jane Watson. While gazing, enchanted, at her beauty, he's bitten by a spider. Peter reacts to this event by running home and staring at his bare torso in the mirror, confused.
The next day, Peter's body has changed, and he has developed muscles in new places. But that's just the beginning. Peter's body starts producing, uh, sticky white stuff.
This movie defines subtlety.
The audience watches with vague feelings of discomfort as this teenage boy spends a long time trying to figure out exactly how to produce the newly discovered fluid, nervously telling his aunt to go away when she knocks on the door.
If the superpowers-as-puberty message wasn't intentional in the recent movies, it sure was back when they were being developed. For most of Spider-Man's 49-year history, Peter Parker lacked the ability to shoot webs out of his own body (heh), instead relying on a pair of mechanical shooters that he built himself and attached to his wrists.
This new power of Spider-Man's is prominently featured in an unused script written by James Cameron in 1991. If you still have any doubts about the subtext that's going on here, check out this scene from Cameron's version, in which a newly spiderized Peter Parker wakes up in bed:
Something is causing the sheet to stick to him. He lifts it, revealing a sticky, white mass completely covering him, gluing him to his bedding. It is some silky substance webbing him into the covers. He cries out in dismay ... struggling to free himself from the gluey strands. Where did it come from? He notices his wrists. ... They are oozing a pearlescent white fluid from almost invisible slits about a quarter of an inch long.
See, it could have been much, much worse. It's pretty clear that this metaphor was a deliberate one. Either that, or Cameron has a few things that he needs to work through with his therapist.
5RoboCop: All Praise Be to Robot Jesus
What You Think You're Watching
A fun sci-fi romp through a near-future dystopian Detroit. Peter Weller plays a good cop who is murdered in the line of duty and is therefore the perfect candidate for inaugurating the RoboCop program. As the first RoboCop, RoboCop does many robocoppy things, including single-handedly robocopping the city's crime element, and robocopping corruption within the corporation that robocopped him.
Also, whatever you call this.
RoboCop is actually RoboJesus.
Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop, much like The Matrix, The Day the Earth Stood Still and other movies all strangely connected to Keanu Reeves, uses its hero as a metaphor for Jesus Christ. Let's start with the obvious: The story of Christ is that Jesus is alive, then he's wrongfully killed, then he's resurrected. The story of RoboCop goes like this: Good cop is alive:
Then he's wrongfully killed:
Then he's resurrected as RoboCop:
OK, now let's get into the iconic scene, in which Detroit policeman and RoboCop-to-be Alex Murphy is tortured and killed by a gang of bad guys. First, his arm is spread out in a cruciform position. Next, the gang leader blows off his right hand with a shotgun -- a modern, gore-amplified version of being nailed to a cross. Finally, he receives a deadly gunshot wound to the head (the crown of thorns, durrrr).
Not convinced? Near the end of the movie, in his final showdown with the crime gang that killed him, RoboCop is shown moving across ankle-deep water, almost as if he's walking on top of it.
"Ask and it will be given to you -- in bullets!"
Oh, and if you're still not convinced, director Verhoeven actually confirmed the whole theory in a 2010 interview, saying that he fully intended to portray Murphy as a Jesuslike figure.
"It is about a guy who gets crucified in the first 50 minutes, and then is resurrected in the next 50 minutes, and then is like the supercop of the world."
Verhoeven also pointed out that the character's somewhat un-Christlike violence was deliberate, since RoboCop was meant to be an American Jesus.
And we're sure Verhoeven will tell us what the fuck Basic Instinct was about one of these days.