Someone once said that not all heroes wear tights.
However, in the case of SpiderMable, we see that one can still wear the costume but that’s not what makes her a hero.
Directed by Kelly Wolfert, the new documentary SpiderMable follows the powerful (and adorable) journey of Mable Tooke, a 6-year-old cancer patient who dreams of being like her favourite superhero, Spider-Man. Battling for her life, Mable receives a ‘wish day’ that lets her step into the web-slinger’s tights as she fights the forces of evil around the city. However, when the wish day is over, Mable’s fight continues. As she grows up, Mable uses her inspiring attitude and selfless spirit to step into the role of advocate for other kids who are struggling as well.
In Mable, Wolfert has a subject well-worth following. This child is rare due to her ability to remain engaging and authoritative while carrying an innocence and sweetness that is infectious. (Seriously. When was the last time that you’ve seen a 6-year-old lead a press conference?) As a result, Wolfert simply steps back and lets Mable take control of her own story. From a young age, Mable’s cancer journey has shaped her life but her ability to process the challenges in front of her is almost staggering. As she fights for her life, she has an incredible grasp of her situation and learns to take in stride. (For example, this self-awareness is particularly visible as she draws a connection between Spider-Man’s radioactive blood and her own chemotherapy treatments.) As a result, Mable also exhibits a maturity and courage that seems well-beyond her years. With every task that she accomplishes, those around her (including the viewer) can’t help but watch with amazement at the maturity and joy within this young woman. Whether it’s flying from the heights on a zipline or calling the corporate world to support her charity, Mable dives into any situation with a confidence well beyond her age.
Though she may only be pretending to defeat the evil Mysterio, there’s such courage within this child that lets one believe that she could defeat anything.
Admittedly though, what’s most powerful about Mable is that this young woman actually becomes a hero worth admiring. She may not be able to shoot webs or climb walls but her story serves as an inspiration to the world. (This may sound like an exaggeration but the film highlights the global impact that she has had.) Despite her young age, Mable and her battle with cancer becomes a symbol of strength and courage to everyone with whom she comes in contact. From the Mayor to the Edmonton Oilers or even Stan Lee himself, Mable’s journey captured everyone’s hearts and showed them that there’s hope.
If that doesn’t sound like a superhero, I don’t know what does.
Of course, while SpiderMable may be the character that the film is built around, Wolfert wisely lets the story continue long after that fateful day in Edmonton. As the viewer watches Mable grow up, she slowly begins to put down the mask that the world knew and step into the limelight as herself. In this way, the film feels even more real as she begins to fight for something that matters: supporting kids who have struggled with cancer just like she did. For her, that becomes the real battle.
For her, that’s the war to win.
To say that there’s a joy inherent to SpiderMable would be an understatement. Filled with life-affirming charm, Mable’s story serves as much more than an entertaining sideshow on an Edmonton Monday morning. Instead, Wolfert’s film is both lovable and a call to action. As Mable leans into her situation with courage and affability, she proves that real heroes don’t require the secret identity or special costumes. Instead, they merely require the passion to help others.
To hear our conversation with director Kelly Wolfert, click here.
SpiderMable is available on VOD on Tuesday, April 27th, 2021.