Do we have free will?
Christians have debated the answer to this question for centuries, forming into two primary camps: predestination believers and free will believers. Predestination believers tend to believe that all is controlled and determined by God. Free will believers tend to believe all is determined by one’s free will. In a free will believer’s worldview, there could be numerous paths a person could make out of his/her life. These multiple paths are almost like…multiverses.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse presents the multiverse throughout the story. There are many versions of Spider-man/woman, whether that person is Peter Parker, Gwen, or Miles. There are hundreds of variations, including ones that are not human, such as Spider-cat. All of these versions meet together in a super secret organization intent on keeping each universe separate and closing the holes in the multiverse.
One villain intent on opening up the holes is Spot, a creature that was once human whose holes enable him to travel to other worlds. Originating in Miles’s universe, Spot is determined to have others recognize his powerful and terrifying ability. As he rips holes through reality, Miles seeks the join the organization in order to stop him, and meet up with his crush, Gwen.
But is the organization as determined to keep Miles’s free will, or do they desire to control him? To “predestine” him so to speak?
This is the premise of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
[slight spoilers ahead]
When Miles finally joins the mysterious organization, he finds out that he has unintentionally ruined the timeline of another Spider-Man, Pavitr. According to Miguel, the leader of the organization, there are specific points in time, predestinations if you will, that each Spider-Man or Spider-Woman must experience in order to become who he/she is meant to be. For example, a loved one (usually Uncle) must be killed. Almost all of the Spider-Men and Spider-Women, including Gwen, agree that these events should not be shifted. After all, if they were, the entire Spider-Verse could fall apart. But does Miles agree with such an idea? Of course not! Events aren’t predestined, or fated, he states. We have free will! Free will to change our fates/destinies.
This is a hopeful outlook, but is it Biblical?
I am by no means a Biblical scholar, and I don’t want to take sides one way or another on the side of predestination or free will. Instead, I want to present Bible verses to you and have you decide which you believe.
On the side of predestination are these verses (I have selected only a few):
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
-Romans 8:28-29 NIV (the bolded words are used by those on this side to justify predestination)
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
-Ephesians 1:4-6 NIV (the bolded words are used by those on this side to justify predestination)
On the side of free will are these verses (I have selected only a few):
“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
-Joshua 24:15 NIV (the bolded words are used by those on this side to justify free will)
“Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him…’”
-John 7:16-18 NIV (the bolded words are used by those on this side to justify free will)
There are numerous Bible verses that support either side, but I imagine, if Miles was here, he would be on the side of those who believe in free will and Miguel would be on the side of those who believe in predestination. Because of the cliffhanger at the end of this film, fans of the animated Spider-Man will not know whether free will or predestination wins the debate until the next movie.
As for you and your house, what will you choose? One, the other, or both?
Language: Two uses of “a—,” one “h—,” one “d—n.” Multiple fake cuss words, such as shoot, oh my gosh, jeez, heck, crap, and Go to Helvetica, Spider-Man.
Sexual Content: Gwen leaves her sweater at several Spider-Man’s homes, implying there is a relationship between them, but nothing is shown. Gwen has a poster that says “Protect Trans Kids” and her father, a police officer, appears to have a trans flag badge on his uniform.
Violent Content: There are multiple scenes of comic book action, such as destruction of buildings, punching, kicking, and shooting guns at one another. Miguel has a vampiric appearance with claws and pointed teeth that tear at things around him. A father watches his daughter disintegrate in his arms. No blood is shown, but there is plenty of flashy, action-packed imagery.
Rating: PG according to IMDb
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a fun, heart-pounding adventure from beginning to end. With unique, multi-faceted animation, the movie is almost psychedelic in its colors and visuals. In fact, it was often hard to follow the story and the characters because of it, and it was disappointing that this movie ended in a cliffhanger. That being said, the characters were compelling, and once the convoluted plot was unraveled, it made me want to buy a ticket for the next one. Maybe then you and I will be answer the question: which is better, fate or free will?
M.H. Elrich is a Christian Fantasy author, reader, otaku, and teacher who wears too many hats. In her spare time, she watches T.V. with her husband, rides horses, and travels to places with lots of trees. Her work has been featured in two separate books: Finding God in Anime and Where Giants Fall, and her stories have won several awards at the Kern County Fair. She is currently writing and publishing the Daughters of Tamnarae series.