Identifying Themes in Spider-Man and the Seven Motivations for Giving

9, 10, 11, 12

Students will identify themes in Spider-Man, the reasons that people choose to give to their communities, and why Spider-Man chooses to do so.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo to Four Fifty-Minute Class Periods (depending on whether the movie Spider-Man is shown in class) Instructor Note: Besides the blockbuster movie, there are several VHS and DVD animated media alternatives to obtain for your class.

The learner will:

  • write two theme statements for the movie or the original comic Spider-Man.
  • understand the seven motivations for giving and serving and identify any additional ones.
  • explain Spider-Man's motivation for giving to his community.
  • discuss altruistic motivations for clarity of understanding.
  • Spider-Man video or DVD starring Tobey Maguire (Columbia Pictures) and original comic story available at (click on "Origin of Spider-Man") See Bibliographical References.
  • The Seven Motivations for Giving and Serving(Handout One)
  • Written Responses to Spider-Man Discussion(Handout Two) Spanish version (Handout Three)
Home Connection 

For homework, have students respond in writing to the questions in Attachment Two: Written Responses to Spider-Man Discussion, adding any further questions you deem important.



File, Karen Maru and Russ Alan Prince. The Seven Faces of Philanthropy: A New Approach to Cultivating Major Donors. San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1994. ISBN: 0787960578

Official site from Marvel comics.

Spider-Man (DVD) , 121 min., Columbia TriStar, 2002.

Spider-Man—The Ultimate Villain Showdown (Animated Series, 1994) ASIN: B0000633UA


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Explain to students that they are going to watch the movie "Spider-Man" and read the original comic, and that as they watch/read they should think about the theme of the story and be prepared at the end to write a theme statement.

  2. View the film Spider-Man and read the original comic. You may also obtain the following collection of four animated films from the 1990's series. The last one is a 1967 production cartoon on the origins of Spider-Man and the roots of his philanthropy. In viewing and by reading, great comparisons of themes and topics can be developed. Spider-Man—The Ultimate Villain Showdown (Animated Series, 1994). ASIN: B0000633UA

    • Have students write a theme statement for the story/films or video and discuss.
    • Read Attachment One: "The Seven Motivations for Giving and Serving" and discuss each motivation. Explain that although the Motivations were written referencing people with a lot of money to give, it can be applied to anyone. Discuss how each motivation could apply to a high school student. Add any other motivations that students brainstorm.
    • Discuss Spider-Man's motivations for service to his community, discussing specifically the repetitive theme, "With great power comes great responsibility."
    • For homework, have students respond in writing to the questions in Attachment Two: Written Responses to Spider-Man Discussion, adding any further questions you deem important.

Evaluate students' theme statements for Spider-Man, and their written responses to the discussion questions (Attachment Two: Written Responses to Spider-Man Discussion).

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss and give examples of why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
    2. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.7 Identify contemporary factors in society that can shape or affect how society views philanthropic giving.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.